It’s finally getting warm(ish) in Chicago, which means one thing: patio drinking!
Chicagoans are unique in our zest for dining outdoors, especially during those early, not-quite-warm-enough days of spring. Parson's Chicken and Fish is ground zero for this type of behavior, and last week, the Logan Square staple opened its newly renovated outdoor area. Along with more seating (inside and out), the space includes a larger kitchen, which should make for fewer of the bar's notorious two-hour waits.
Of course, patio season comes with its own set of bad behaviors and potential pitfalls. To avoid them, we asked three Parson's staffers—chef Hunter Moore, beverage director Charlie Schott, and GM Eric Houser—for their pet peeves and tips for drinking at the Logan Square hotspot.
Mind your pooch
The Parson's patio is dog friendly, but all pups are not created equal. “There’s tons of other dogs and smells and chicken bones and people and servers,” says Moore. “If your dog is high anxiety, take that into consideration.” Adds Schott: “You wouldn’t take your friend somewhere if all he did was yell all the time.” Lastly: Take fido for a pre-patio spin to make sure he’s done his business.
Go on a weekday afternoon
Parson's has a reputation for crowds, but that’s really only true on weekends and evenings. If you don’t work a nine to five—or you’ve got some vacation days to burn—consider a weekday trip to Parson’s. “I dare you to find a wait here on, like, a Tuesday,” says Schott. Plus, the new renovation means Parson’s will serve brunch every day of the week, until 3 p.m.—reason enough to play hooky.
Don’t ask to charge your phone
If you don’t post a selfie from the Parson’s patio, were you even there? Should you want to, come with a charged phone. It’s not that the staff doesn’t want to plug yours in, they’re just using all their outlets blending frosty, high-octane drinks.
No creeping, please
Parson’s is unique in that it boasts day-party atmosphere but also attracts families. “Not everyone’s here trying to pick up a person—they’re here to hang out with their friends,” says Houser. Adds Schott: “Don’t be spitting game if no one wants you spitting game.” A nugget of wisdom applicable to all situations.
You don’t have to get the chicken
Everyone loves the Parson’s staples—fried chicken, hush puppies, and Negroni slushies—but if you want to keep your arteries intact, consider something lighter. Schott goes for the Veggie Club and grilled chicken. And don’t be afraid to explore the drink menu. Post-renovation, the bar has more room for slushie machines, which means more of its drinks will come in ice form.
It's a marathon, not a sprint
As gung-ho as Chicagoans are about outdoor seating during the spring, Moore says we’re over it by late summer. “In April, it’ll be 47 degrees and people will call the restaurant, like, ‘I have my dogs, is it okay to come sit on the patio?’” But by September, he says, Chicagoans get picky. “You’ll have days that are gorgeous, sunny, and 60 degrees, and people aren’t here.” We’ve only got so much warm weather each year in Chicago—remember in September how gleeful you were for it in May.
Spread the love
So the Parson’s wait is simply too long—fear not. There are plenty of outdoor backups a short walk from the chicken spot. The Parson’s guys recommend the Best Intentions backyard, the brand-new Moonlighter patio, Dos Urban Cantina for fancy margaritas, Land and Sea sister restaurant Lonesome Rose, and Estero, a half-mile walk up Humboldt Boulevard. Armitage slashie Go Tavern is a favorite of the Parson’s staff in particular. “Especially if you like Marvel comics, Sci-Fi, and the Cubs,” says Houser.