Hidden outdoor eateries
These beer gardens and patios fly under the radar.
You overheated while backpacking in Rome and jumped into the Trevi Fountain. This summer, relive that Italian experience by escaping to the pastoral yard at Anteprima (5316 N Clark St, 773-506-9990). House-grown vegetables and herbs enhance the rustic, seasonal fare. So do glasses of crisp prosecco. But if even the wine doesn’t cool you down, there’s a bubbling fountain near the ivy-covered coach house. You know what to do.
Even the most tireless twinks need a break from Boystown’s party scene. The garden at Arco de Cuchilleros (3445 N Halsted St, 773-296-6046) gets the job done with towering trees, sparkling lights and soft Spanish music. Indulge in tortilla Española, mussels or the cod loins sautéed in olive oil, white wine, garlic and cayenne. Wash it down with a pitcher of potent sangria before heading back out into the madness.
Fish oil, beef liver and egg yolks offer tons of vitamin D. Luckily for vegans, so does sunlight, which they can get copious amounts of on the back patio at Lakeview’s meatless mecca Chicago Diner (3411 N Halsted St, 773-935-6696). Order a black-bean burger and a seasonal beer and chill in the outdoor space, which owner Mickey Hornick is considering enclosing in colder months.
If there’s a place where eating a juicy (read: messy) blue-cheese burger can be romantic, it’s the revamped Jury’s, now Copper House (4337 N Lincoln Ave, 773-935-2255). As the sunlight fades, the hanging lights take over, casting a warm yet dim glow over you and your lover. Everybody looks good in this light—even with beef juice running down their chin.
Make it a pub crawl by hitting both Ten Cat (3931 N Ashland Ave, 773-935-5377) and nearby Long Room (1612 W Irving Park Rd, 773-665-4500), where dozens of imported and domestic craft brews will keep you sated on patios teeming with flowers, ivy, prairie grass and other flora. But don’t think about the garbage-lined alleys just over the wall.
The patio at Enoteca Roma (2144–46 W Division St, 773-342-1011) doesn’t feel so much like Rome as it does the Italian countryside—wisteria, geranium, impatiens and bountiful trees surround you while you dig into insalata caprese, bruschetta and salmone. It’s enough to start you daydreaming about moving to Italy and becoming a gardener.
You have to work, but if you can snag a “working from home” day, take it at West Town coffee shop Sip (1223 W Grand Ave, 312-563-1123). There, you can do all your e-mailing on the sun-drenched patio (thanks to the free Wi-Fi) and down mug after mug of Intelligentsia. Take a break to watch birds peck at the handcrafted feeders or play a round of Scrabble or Monopoly. And if you need another day of fresh air? Call in sick and say you got bird flu.
When the Loop’s grind gives you a headache—and screaming kids at the Crown Fountain make it worse—escape to the Garden Restaurant’s patio at the Art Institute (111 S Michigan Ave, 312-553-9675). Enjoying a niçoise salad with a glass of wine next to the Carl Milles “Fountain of the Tritons” at this urban Eden will make you feel human again.