Say “hello” to sunny days outside at a beer garden. And don’t forget to take your kids! Yep, sippy cups and steins happily coexist at a slew of places across the city and ‘burbs. We tracked down your best bets, from a motorcycle-themed hangout to a pizza joint you can’t miss. Cheers!
As if the enormous beer garden that seats more than 200 wasn’t enough, there are also outdoor bocce ball courts available on a first-come, first-served basis. Enjoy a meal that’s the Bomb — no really, the Bomb Sandwich is a spicy beef and pork sausage served on a bun with pepper jack cheese, BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion — or indulge in any one of the many kid-friendly wraps, sandwiches, salads, sides and fries. And if beer os the real reason you’ve brought the family out, Kaiser Tiger will not disappoint with a draft menu that includes brews on tap, in cans and in bottles.
1415 W. Randolph St., West Loop
The Dec Rooftop Bar
This is where Ritz-Carlton Chicago guests, plus lots of locals, let down their hair. Set high above Michigan Avenue, families can feast outdoors on burgers, salads and more. The drink menu is extensive and of course, you’ll also take dessert — cheesecake, anyone? It’s currently closed for renovation, but set to reopen in July.
The Ritz-Carlton Chicago
160 E. Pearson St. at Water Tower Place, Downtown
Nineteen beers on tap. Delicious Chicago-style pizza. Smoked meats. If you’re not ready to head on over to Big Bricks to cop a squat on the outdoor patio with the fam on the next warm day, you might not have Chicago blood running through your veins. The folks behind Bricks Pizza in Lincoln Park opened Big Bricks in Northcenter to pay homage to the city’s culinary heritage, with slowly smoked brisket, pulled pork or baby back rib platters, classic mouthwatering pizzas, sandwiches, sides, desserts, and an expansive beer and wine list.
3832 N. Lincoln Ave., Northcenter
photo: Chief O’Neill’s via Yelp
Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant
Chief O’Neill was a father of 10, so have no fear, your brood won’t rattle the fine folks here. This classic Irish pub offers everything from Shepherd’s pie to yummy meatloaf to fish ‘n’ chips. And of course, like any respectable pub, there’s an ample drink menu complete with whiskeys, crafts, drafts, bottles, wines and drink specials. And when the weather warms up, hang out back in their lovely garden, where Chief O’Neill’s proves that grass can grow in the city.
3471 N. Elston Ave., Avondale
Iron Horse Ale House
This place is more than just pizza. It’s all about family friendliness, from the huge menu that has tons of even-your-kids-will-eat-that foods, to a drink list complete with drafts, bottles, cans, spirits, specialty drinks and wine. Oh, and did we mention that you can eat all this, drink all this, and be as merry as you want from the outdoor patio when Mother Nature cooperates? Well, if that’s not enough, did you know there’s an area for kids to make their own pizzas? Yeah, we thought you’d like that.
6158 N. Northwest Hwy., Norwood Park
It might look like a scene from Sons of Anarchy, with a skeleton riding a motorcycle spinning on top of the roof, but this place is tons of family fun. The menu has plenty of kid-approved dishes like burgers, po’ boys, and yes, you can ask for grilled cheese. However, the real gem is the rooftop deck, which was Chicago’s first ever, complete with loads of seats overlooking the city’s stunning skyline. Top the whole trip off with drinks like a Road Rash Mary & Beer Back or a Smokin’ Selma (a scotch-based drink named after Salma Hayek) and you’re in for a real treat.
501 N. Ogden Ave., West Town
Like a beautiful butterfly, the Monarch knows you need to spread your wings when warm weather hits Chicago. That’s why the outdoor seating is so inviting — like a secret garden away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Bring the family out back and check out the brunch, dinner, drinks and dessert menu that even includes Dirt ‘n Worms — a delicious combo of cocoa powder, bittersweet chocolate pudding and whipped cream.
1745 W. North Ave., Bucktown
Mrs. P & Me
Since 1902, Mrs. P and Me has stood the test of time — it even lived through Prohibition. These days, families come for house specialties like Elmer’s ribs and BBQ chicken, and stay for little extras like the awesome outdoor patio. With an endless menu packed with burgers, wraps, salads, kids’ meals for those 12 and under, desserts, and of course, drafts and imports, you might want to bring some crayons and coloring books for the kids … you’re going to want to stay awhile!
100 E. Prospect Ave., Mount Prospect
Smylie Brothers Brewing Company
Growing up on backyard family BBQs, the five Smylie Brothers were bound to form a foodie bond that they’d eventually share with the world through mouthwatering wood-fired pizzas, smokehouse BBQ, entrees and regional brews. And with an awesome outdoor patio to enjoy the best of their best, including a kids’ menu that has pulled chicken or pork sliders, mac ‘n’ cheese, burgers, fries and more, your family will be transported back to the days of those backyard fire pits, except mom won’t have to help clean up after dinner.
1615 Oak Ave., Evanston
photo: Fiammé via Tim H on Yelp
No, you’re not in Italy — it just tastes like it! Especially when you dine with the kids alfresco on the outdoor patio in the glow of flickering torches. While Fiammé gets major bragging rights for the wood-fired pizza, they are also known around town for having tasty apps and drinks, plus gluten-free pizza and pasta. If that doesn’t make you want to say mangia, what will!?
19 N. Washington St., Naperville
Belly up for a fresh salad or sandwich at this lovely beer garden, located right across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and down the block from Millennium Park. If you can make it between 3-6 p.m., any day of the week, you can enjoy $8 bites and pours from a select menu and all draft beers are half off! Valet parking is available or you can park at the underground garage (or take the Metra train!).
130 S. Michigan Ave., Streeterville
— Wendy Altschuler & Jo Aaron