Spring has sprung, summer is coming and there is a restaurant patio seat with your name on it. Alfresco dining is the highlight of any Chicagoan’s season, so let your kids in on the fun. We gathered the top spots for outdoor family dining and found some obvious choices (in front of the Bean) and some secret ones (a Cuban gem in Logan Square). Read on and bon appétit!
After making silly faces at the Bean, playing at Maggie Daley Park or splashing through the Plensa fountains, scoot over to the Park Grill’s huge outdoor patio. It sits right below the fabulous mirrored Cloud Gate sculpture and right aside Michigan Avenue, making it the most bustling and interesting place for outdoor dining in the Loop. On the menu: soups, salads and sandwiches. If you have an adventurous eater in the family, order Chocolate Orange Crème Brûlée for dessert.
One N. Michigan Ave.
Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant
This Irish hangout is named after a Gaelic flute player that fled to the sea to avoid being a priest and ultimately ended up in Chicago working on the police force. While that might make questionable bedtime-story material, your kids will love the look, feel and food at this homey spot. For starters, it has a lovely garden patio with actual grass and room to roam. All the basics are covered on the special Little People Menu, including hamburgers, grilled cheese and chicken tenders. Twice a week everyone in your brood can clap along to live music, usually a traditional Irish band.
3471 N. Elston Ave.
Volo Restaurant Wine Bar
Chef and partner Stephen Dunne not only whips up delectable meals but also he rides a motorcycle and is married to a former Windy City Rollers roller derby star. You’ll probably see his wife, along with their baby daughter Calliope, sitting at Volo’s backyard garden or sidewalk patio. Adults can indulge in fancier options at this bistro, like shrimp and octopus ceviche or duck confit. Meanwhile, kids fill up on sweet pea flatbread, cheeses, housemade gelato or a number of affordable options priced $4-$12. Private cabanas are available outside, a dreamland of a space featuring paver bricks and wood beams.
2008 W. Roscoe St.
90 Miles Cuban Café
The Gonzalez family took the American Dream to heart and created two authentic Cuban restaurants, plus a new suburban one on the way. They are full of authentic favorites, including Guajirito sandwiches, Puerco Rostizado (pork marinated overnight with bacon and guava) and Masas de Puerco (fried pork chunks, and coffee drinks and Latin sodas. The best part: They have spacious, casual front and back patios with breezy atmospheres and lively weekly flamenco shows (at the Armitage location). Your kids will enjoy the vibrant culture and the entertainment while sipping a tropical shake.
2540 W. Armitage Ave.
3101 N. Clybourn Ave.
Lincolnwood location opening soon!
The pickiest of eaters can usually find something on the menu at El Cid. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas — it’s all here. Every week, your little ones can dance along to live music performed by local and traveling musicians. Fresh-air seekers will love El Cid’s small but lively front sidewalk patio and the roomy backyard space — one of the city’s hidden gems.
2645 N. Kedzie Ave.
Does your family think green? This spot, one of the South Side’s gems, serves local, sustainable and organic food — and it’s family owned, to boot! In a sun-dappled space with an open kitchen, exposed brick walls and rotating art by local talents, families hunker down for together time. In fact, family-style supper is available every Sunday and includes a house salad, mac ‘n’ cheese, farm fried chicken and dessert. In terms of their patio, it’s a small strip that runs the length of the sidewalk. Always convivial, it’s perfect for relaxing and listening to your kids chat and giggle under the moonlight.
3267 S. Halsted St.
Five words: Kids eat free on Tuesdays. Modeled after the famous Hofbrauhaus in Munich, this massive German microbrewery, restaurant and beer garden is surprisingly totally family friendly. Check the website for tons of events and activities like magicians, balloon artists and musicians. Kids can order mini pretzels, hot dogs or noodles off. Parents can get what they came for: beer. The patio is a great place to soak up the energy of MB Financial Park, Rosemont’s entertainment and dining epicenter.
5500 Park Pl.
This modern, super-charming taqueria is located in a historic 1925 that was once Hinsdale Theatre. Today, it’s a hotspot not only for food, but for live music. Kids order from a special “para chicos” menu, and adults sip handmade margaritas (they even make a watermelon one) on the outdoor patio, adorned with strung lights and hanging stars.
29 E. First St.
For excellent city views and interesting art, The Gwen is your spot. Total bonus that it’s located within walking distance to Chicago’s Navy Pier, the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Chicago River.
521 N. Rush St.
Near North Side
Located in Logan Square, Osteria Langhe has a new private “Giardino Segreto” (secret garden) that is quaint and intimate for special occasions and celebrations. Your family will enjoy Piemontese cuisine, created by Chef Cameron Grant, in a lush and secluded environment (available through reservations only).
2824 W. Armitage
Logan Square is coming through for us again with Piccolo Sogno, serving up rustic, Italian cuisine for diners at their large and bright patio, which is full of trees and lush vegetation. Families will love the house made pastas, hand-tossed pizzas and made-from-scratch sorbet and gelato at this award-winning lively restaurant.
464 N. Halsted St.
The Duck Inn
Hit up The Duck Inn for cured wild salmon, a salty and rich crumbled duck egg, or a sweet corn funnel cake with blueberries. The casual and family-friendly patio makes this spot a cool community treasure. The Duck Inn offers off-the-hook flavorful food, an intriguing well-designed interior and a passionate crew. Plus it’s B.Y.O.V. (Bring Your Own Vinyl)!
2701 S. Eleanor
James Beard award-winning Chef Tony at Bar Toma has created delicious wood-fired pizzas and appetizers that are ideal for families. Kids can even do a pizza-making class to learn how to toss and cook the perfect pie. Kids will love the Monkey Business, a pull-apart garlic parmesan bread with marinara dipping sauce. The large patio, decorated with stringed lights, is excellent for families and it offers a great view of the Water Tower.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Honey Butter’s huge outdoor patio is the ultimate spot for family dining—especially because of their family-freindly details like the outdoor magnet wall, which keeps kids busy. The Honey Buddies Meal, made exclusively for kids, comes with chicken strips, a side of pimento mac ’n cheese, honey butter and a sticker sheet.
What is YOUR favorite place for outdoor dining with the kiddos? Let us know in the Comments!
— Wendy Altschuler