10 Hidden Alfresco Dining Spots in Chicago

Sidewalk dining has its charms, but secret gardens are far better places to eat and drink outdoors in the city.

Ada Street   Photo: Lenny Gilmore/Redeye

Ada Street

    

1664 N. Ada. Industrial Corridor. 773-697-7069
Mediterranean-inspired small plates. Once you get past the unlikely industrial location, this young, hip boîte offers solid sour-salty-spicy gastropub food, starting with fried black-eyed peas. Seared diver scallops with ramps and chimichurri shows off seasonality. The patio out back has synthetic grass, an herb garden, and a small fire pit.
D Mon–Sat. Br Sun. Wheelchair accessible, outdoor dining, high noise level, will seat past 11 p.m. (Fri, Sat). $

Anteprima

    

5316 N. Clark. Andersonville. 773-506-9990
Italian. This neighborhood charmer explores the rustic richness of regional Italian fare, from bucatini with ahi tuna crudo to wood-grilled bison flank steak. Silky lemon panna cotta and affordable Italian wines provide perfect foils to the meal. Beat the noise on the beautiful wood-planked deck.
L Sun, D nightly. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, high noise level. $$

Antico

    

1946 N. Leavitt. Bucktown. 773-489-4895
Italian. At this cozy trattoria, Brad Schlieder showcases the milder side of the Italian table, eschewing red sauces and cheesy standards for, say, a classic veal milanese or a breezy Bolognese over tagliatelle. A plate of fried zeppole makes a bold finale. Herbs grow all around the romantic walled yard.
D Tue–Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$

Bistro Campagne

    

4518 N. Lincoln. Lincoln Square. 773-271-6100
French. Satisfy your bistro longings with mussels in Belgian ale or a caramelized onion strudel. Yes, there’s steak frites, but also a savory socca Provençal—classic Nice-style chickpea crêpes filled with vegetables and melting goat cheese. Sit outside and pretend you are in a French garden.
D nightly. Br Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$

Chef’s Station

    

915 Davis, Evanston. 847-570-9821
Continental. Those who prefer the pre-small-plate era of fine dining will appreciate dishes such as pan-seared duck breast, scallops with celeriac and apple, salmon over lentils, and rack of lamb. And soufflé, bien sûr. Trellises and flower boxes surround the lovely patio.
D Tue–Sun. Wheelchair accessible, free dinner parking (garage at Benson and Davis), outdoor dining. $$

Chez Joël Bistro

    

1119 W. Taylor. Little Italy. 312-226-6479
French. Loyalists know the restaurant’s big secret: bold French flavors served at palatable prices by an au fait—yet unstuffy—staff. The lamb shank is fork tender, and the requisite coq au vin delivers. Even the charming tables set outside the chez sport white linen.
L Tue–Fri, D Tue–Sun. Br Sat. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$

Mon Ami Gabi

    

Belden-Stratford, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West. Lincoln Park. 773-348-8886
French steak house. Ten variations on steak frites set the theme for this turn-of-the-century Parisian bar look-alike. Pristine oysters, onion soup, chicken liver mousse, and boeuf bourguignonne offer all the comforts of a Gallic home. So does the gated, shrub-filled front lawn.
D nightly. Wheelchair accessible (side entrance), child friendly, outdoor dining, high noise level. $$

Nightwood

    

2119 S. Halsted. Pilsen. 312-526-3385
American. This eclectic outlier thrives on spontaneity, offering Japanese mackerel fried in foie fat one day and simple spit-roasted chicken another. The wine list rocks, as does the exemplary butter cake. For a greenhouse effect with votives, request terrace seating.
D Mon–Sat. Br Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, high noise level. $$

North Pond

    

2610 N. Cannon. Lincoln Park. 773-477-5845
Contemporary American. Bruce Sherman exploits the seasons with beef and mushrooms for the cautious crowd and squid and watermelon for the daring, but always with a fresh dimension. The old warming house turned restaurant sits at the north tip of the pond in Lincoln Park. Technically, you dine inside, but with the French doors flung open, the bucolic setting belongs to you.
D Tue–Sun. Br Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly. $$$$

Piccolo Sogno

    

464 N. Halsted. West Town. 312-421-0077
Italian. Homemade pastas and high-quality ingredients—think earthy fettuccine and roasted veggies—roll out of Tony Priolo’s kitchen to convivial customers in the hip dining room and on the fab patio in summer.
L Mon–Fri, D nightly. Free parking (lunch only), wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, high noise level. $$$

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