Although it was a slow start, we promise summer is here, 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 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.
One N. Michigan Ave., Millennium Park
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., Avondale
The Patio at Café Brauer
Located just south of Lincoln Park Zoo’s main grounds, The Patio offers unparalleled views of a restored prairie ecosystem and is one of the city’s ultimate vantage points for taking in our breath-stealing skyline. This year they introduced a Kids Corner with tables, chairs, games puzzle and coloring books, making it an ideal respite for kids of all ages. Visit Tues.-Thurs., 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., to enjoy your dinner with a side of live acoustic music.
2021 N. Stockton Dr., Lincoln Park
The nation’s largest rooftop, Offshore has opened at Chicago’s Navy Pier. This stunning, chic 36,000-square-foot, all-seasons and all-weather venue offers Chicagoans a full-service luminous bar and world-class kitchen, terraces, seven cozy fire pits, an entertainment and gaming area, and multiple large social gathering spaces. Now through Labor Day, guest can experience Navy Pier’s fireworks on Wednesday and Saturday evenings with Offshore’s unobstructed and unparalleled views.
1000 E. Grand Ave., Streeterville
Oh là là! Enjoy French-inspired cuisine and terrace in the heart of the Gold Coast neighborhood. Bistronomic offers a children’s menu daily and a happy hour perfect for an early family dinner from 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
840 N. Wabash, Gold Coast
This summer Avli Taverna constructed a 75-seat patio that features a large pergola which forms a private and shaded seating area decorated with lights and planters. Bring along your pup, because it’s pooch-friendly.
1335 W. Wrightwood, Lincoln Park
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 daughter Calliope, sitting at Volo’s backyard garden or sidewalk patio. Private cabanas are available outside, a dreamland of a space featuring paver bricks and wood beams.
2008 W. Roscoe St., Roscoe Village
90 Miles Cuban Café
The Gonzalez family took the American Dream to heart and created three authentic Cuban restaurants. They are full of authentic favorites, 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.
Locations in Logan Square, Roscoe Village & Lincolnwood
There’s so much to love about River Roast. . . where to start? The unbelievable city views from your seat overlooking the Chicago River will have you falling in love. The concept, if you can’t guess by the name, is roasts. Not the type smothered in gravy. . . not that we’d turn our shoulder to that. Think more like a roasted chicken. There are meat, fish and veggie roasts that live on the menu every day and one rotating roast a month. The coolest part? They carve your dinner right at the table.
315 N. LaSalle St., River North
The pickiest of eaters can usually find something on the menu at El Cid. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas—it’s all here. 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., Logan Square
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., Bridgeport
Casati’s is known as being the “healthiest pizza in Chicago” with 90% less fat, carbs and gluten than traditional pizza, but now it offers a patio and a newly launched kids menu and Kids Eat Free promotion. And, if that wasn’t enough, it’s dog-friendly. Kids under the age of 12 eat free, Mon.-Fri., 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m. with the purchase of an adult entree per child.
444 W. Fullerton Pkwy., Lincoln Park
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 Parkway Bank Park, Rosemont’s entertainment and dining epicenter.
5500 Park Pl., Rosemont
Located in Logan Square, Osteria Langhe has a 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
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
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 pasta, hand-tossed pizzas and made-from-scratch sorbet and gelato at this award-winning lively restaurant.
464 N. Halsted St., Logan Square
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, Bridgeport
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Honey Butter’s huge outdoor patio is the ultimate spot for family dining—especially because of their family-friendly 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.
3361 N. Elston Ave., Avondale
— Wendy Altschuler