40+ outdoor spots to get your drink on and enjoy the weather outside
We don't like being stuck inside working on a gorgeous day anymore than you do.
But if you're like us, there's one thing you're looking forward to: throwing back a cold beer or sipping a fine martini post-work today. We've rounded up a list of 40+ of the city's best outdoor drinking spots to enjoy today's hot weather in all its glory:
Abbey Pub: Most people don’t end up at this hard-to-get-to music venue unless they’re seeing a live show, but the adjacent pub is actually worth a visit on its own. Sunday night’s traditional Irish jam session lends support to the woody pub’s Emerald Isle vibe; ditto for the respectable shepherd’s pie. Cheapskates can seek out a spot on the patio and hear the indoor shows for free. 3420 W Grace St (773-463-5808). El: Blue to Addison. Bus: 82 Kimball/Homan, 152 Addison. Mon–Fri 3pm–2am; Sat 9am–3am; Sun 9am–2am. Average beer: $4.
Chief O’Neill’s Pub: When two Irish-American musicians open a pub, you’d better believe they’ll pay attention to the tunes. Aside from the Sunday-night traditional Irish jam session, you can pretty much count on sipping your stout to some sort of bagpipe-driven sounds. In nice weather, the massive back patio doubles the capacity, with towering hedges muffling the sounds of Elston Avenue and dishes like classic fish-and-chips, shepherd’s pie and slow-cooked corned beef transporting you to the Emerald Isle. 3471 N Elston Ave (773-583-3066). El: Blue to Addison. Bus: 77 Belmont, 152 Addison. Mon–Thu 4pm–2am, Fri noon–2am; Sat 9am–3am; Sun 10am–2am. Average imported beer: $5.50.
Ham Tree: Though the name is a head-scratcher, this no-frills pub is a friendly Jefferson Park retreat. A faded mural promises 101 beers, but even though that number has dwindled to a modest 15, the regulars—middle-aged dudes and their frosted-hair babes—probably couldn’t care less. The trees in the adjacent beer garden don’t bear any ham, but they will make for a shady spot come summertime. 5333 N Milwaukee Ave (773-792-2072). El: Blue to Jefferson Park. Bus: 56, 81, 85. Sun–Fri 10am–2am; Sat 10am–3am. Average beer: $3.
Jackhammer: A construction theme dominates this Rogers Park gay bar, where a grab bag of leather dudes, street-tuff trannies and Boystowners out for adventure cram the dance floor on weekend nights. If you can lure yourself away from the constant porn, a beautiful outdoor patio beckons with a psychic on hand to predict that the guy you’re about to take home is probably not the same one you’ll be introducing to your parents one day. 6406 N Clark St (773-743-5772). Bus: 22, 36, 155. Mon–Thu 5pm–4am; Sat 5pm–5am; Sun noon–4am. Average beer: $3.
Big Chicks: Don’t let the name fool you. It’s practically all guys in here and calling them “big” could get you slapped. Andersonville’s queer den mother Michelle Fire decks out her bar with choice selections from her impressive art collection, a good back-up plan in case there’s a lack of other eye candy. 5024 N Sheridan Rd (773-728-5511). El: Red to Argyle. Bus: 151 Sheridan. Mon–Fri 4pm–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am–2am. Average cocktail: $5. Cash only.
Charlie’s Ale House: Like a gay Cheers, everybody knows everybody’s name here. A long winding bar, amber lighting, dark wood and green leather booths make for a tavern-y spot to sip one of the gajillion beers or two dozen wines by the glass. TVs show sports, but older locals are focused on their grilled chicken Caesars, and the lesbians are too busy flirting to notice. 5308 N Clark St (773-751-0140). El: Red to Berwyn. Bus: 22, 50, 92. Mon–Thu 11:30am–midnight; Fri 11:30am–1am; Sat 10:30am–1am; Sun 10:30am–midnight. Average beer: $4.
The Granville: Anvil On weekends, the small crowd at this dodgy, dimly lit man’s bar can make it feel downright convivial. Otherwise the faded watering hole is surely where Edgewater’s gentrification will hold its last stand. Lonely? Drop a few quarters in the jukebox and pour your heart out along with Dolly as she begs Jolene not to take her man. 1137 W Granville Ave (773-973-0006). El: Red to Granville. Bus: 147, 151, 155. Mon–Fri 9am–2am; Sat 9am–3am; Sun noon–2am. Average cocktail: $5.
In Fine Spirits: Maybe it’s because we can get plenty of wine next door at the shop of the same name, but we’re more into the cocktails at this comfortable, bi-level wine bar than the vino. Don’t miss the “Swedish Mary” (a Bloody made with aquavit) or the signature G&T (Fever Tree tonic and North Shore gin) 5420 N Clark St (773-334-9463). Bus: 22, 92. Mon–Thu 4pm–midnight; Fri, Sat 3pm–2am; Sun 3pm–11pm. Average cocktail: $10.
Joie de Vine: A wine bar this charming has no business being hidden on a quiet residential street. The location might be why you’ll often have the place to yourself. The wine list has some tasty values (both New and Old World) and the small-plates menu has bites like artisan cheeses to offset a nasty wine hangover. 1744 W Balmoral Ave (773-989-6846). Bus: 22, 50, 92. Sun–Fri 5pm–2am; Sat 5pm–3am. Average glass of wine: $8.
Jury’s: For one of the best tavern burgers in town (try the blue cheese, medium-rare) and a classy beer garden, this is the spot. Umbrella-topped tables, a wooden privacy fence, ivy-covered brick and a superbly stocked bar complete the package. 4337 N Lincoln Ave (773-935-2255). Bus: 11, 50, 78. Mon–Thu 11am–10pm; Fri 11am–11pm; Sat 11:30am–11pm, Sun noon–9pm. Average beer: $5.
Green Eye Lounge: When you start and end every day at the same bar, you have a problem. Unless that bar is Logan Square’s Green Eye. Intelligentsia coffee and Red Hen pastries in the morning, Goose Island draft at night and a prime spot right next to the Blue Line makes this place easier to drop into your routine than sleep. 2403 W Homer St (773-227-8851). El: Blue to Western. Bus: 49. Mon–Fri 3pm–2am; Sat noon–3am; Sun noon–2am. Average beer: $4.50.
Big Star: The bar that took over the Pontiac space is just that: a bar. With whiskey shots, cheap beer and quick cocktails. Of course, if you can just drink and not partake in Paul Kahan’s tacos, you have more restraint than us. Braised lamb and pork belly have our names on them—but since each is about $3, you can afford to try them all. Which just about makes this the best thing to happen to Six Corners in some time. 1531 N Damen Ave (773-235-4039). El: Blue to Damen. Bus: 50, 56, 72. Sun–Fri 11:30am–2am; Sat 11:30am–3am. Average beer: $4.
The Boundary: Opened by the team behind Wrigleyville’s Trace, this enormous new drinkery brings a taste of the prototypical Lincoln Park sports bar to Division Street. The generic tan interior means that your attention will undoubtedly fall to one of three things: the busty bartenders and servers, the football game on the flat screens or—and this would be our choice—the 50-bottle-strong beer list. 1932 W Division St (773-278-1919). El: Blue to Division. Bus: 50, 56, 70. Mon–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 10am–3am; Sun 10am–2am. Average beer: $4.'
Bucktown Pub: At first glance, it didn’t seem any different from other dark-wood neighborhood taverns. But then we noticed the psychedelic posters lining the walls, the bottomless baskets of free popcorn and the old man in the corner laughing his ass off at nothing. Is this bar high? 1658 W Cortland St (773-394-9898). Bus: 9, 50, 73 . Sun–Fri 3pm–2am; Sat 3pm–3am. Average beer: $4.
Handlebar Bar & Grill: The multiple bike racks out back are packed with every kind of two-wheeler imaginable no matter the time of year at this biker bar (and by biker, we mean bicycle-r). Eco-minded folks chat over tasty vegan fare (the barbecue seitan is great), check out each other’s rides and sample from the ample list of diverse drafts. 2311 W North Ave (773-384-9546). El: Blue to Damen. Bus: 49, 50, 72. Mon–Thu 10am–midnight; Fri 10am–2am; Sat 10am–2am; Sun 10am–midnight. Average beer: $4.50.
Hideout: The fact that a bar this incredibly difficult to get to via the CTA is packed almost every night with those who actually take the CTA is a testament to the Hideout’s devoted following. A lone house sidled by warehouses and railroad tracks, this is as juke joint as Chicago gets. We love the cheap beer, live local country-rock and DJs dropping nostalgia from Prince to Devo. 1354 W Wabansia Ave (773-227-4433). Bus: 72, 73. Tue 7pm–2am; Wed–Fri 4pm–2am; Sat 7pm–3am; Sun, Mon for special events (call ahead). Average beer: $2.
The Beetle: New owners closed the spacious, low-key Black Beetle for two weeks of renovations, reopening as—simply—the Beetle. The space itself came out relatively unscathed: Its wood-paneled bar and antique taps retain a sense of authenticity. It’s the menu that has moved into new territory, particular this beast called the “Elvis” burger. The patty itself is underseasoned and a tad mushy, but you won’t notice: The thing is topped with sweet plantains, awesomely crisp bacon and a dangerously delicious layer of peanut butter. Believe it. 2532 W Chicago Ave (773-384-0701). Bus: 49, 66. Mon–Thu 4pm–2am; Fri, Sun 11:30am–2am; Sat 11:30–3am. Average beer: $5.
Clutch: Two things about this new West Town bar will remind you that it used to be housed in a gas station. One: Four draft beers are tapped from an antique gas pump behind the bar. Two: The menu hawks a burger covered in a sheet of cheddar cheese and some fishy fish tacos, neither of which would be acceptable anywhere besides a gas station. 459 N Ogden Ave (312-526-3450). El: Blue to Chicago. Bus: 9, 65. 11am–2am daily, except Sat 11am–3am. Average beer: $5.
Happy Village: A gurgling goldfish pond, picnic tables galore and a lush lawn all around is the scene at this West Town dive. But when it rains (or at 11pm, when the garden closes), pack up the ciggies and head back inside, where the smell of whiskey and cheap beer hangs in the air, and the jukebox coughs out the Cars and Madonna. 1059 N Wolcott Ave (773-486-1512). El: Blue to Division. Bus: 50, 70. Mon–Fri 4pm–2am; Sat 3pm–3am, Sun 4pm–2am. Average beer: $3.
Blue Frog: Three things reign supreme at this long-standing good-times spot: karaoke, board games (from Scrabble to Operation) and electric-hued cocktails that the matronly bartender claims will “mess you up.” Don’t believe her? The signature Blue Frog has vodka, gin, rum, melon liqueur, blue curacao, sour and Sprite, enough crap to convince you the patio is floating. 676 N LaSalle St (312-943-8900). El: Red to Grand. Bus: 22, 156. Mon–Fri 8am–2am; Sat 8am–3am (closed Sun). Average beer: $4.
The Boss Bar: Guys, don’t even bother. This River North hangout has plenty of tables to nosh on a burger and a big, circular bar with plenty of stools to put down your pints. But after work it’s crowded three-suits-deep with men trying to flirt with the gorgeous bartenders, so only a woman could get lucky here. 420 N Clark St (312-527-1203). El: Red to Grand. Bus: 22, 36, 65. Sun–Fri 11am–4am; Sat 11am–5am. Average cocktail: $5.
Brehon Pub: Rumor has it that crooked politicians were busted for taking bribes at this Irish pub in the late ’70s, but as far as we can tell, these days the unpretentious spot is packed with the law-abiding and superfriendly. The homey, neighborhood joint has survived a couple dozen St. Patrick’s Days and probably twice as many Irish impersonators. 731 N Wells St (312-642-1071). El: Brown to Chicago. Bus: 66, 156. Mon–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11–3am; Sun noon–2am. Average beer: $4.50.
Bull and Bear: There’s something ironic about a posh stock market–themed bar opening in the midst of an economic crisis, complete with a menu titled “The Wells Street Journal,” with bottles of Dom and Cristal listed under “Liquid Assets.” The specialty cocktails and upscale bar food like truffle fries with lemon aioli are well executed if you have the cash to burn, and make sure your credit card is ready for one of the buzzed-about booths with tableside beer taps—you might get carried away if you’re the one doing the pouring. 431 N Wells St (312-527-5973). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Merchandise Mart. Bus: 11, 65, 125, 156. Sun–Fri 3pm–2am; Sat 3pm–3am. Average cocktail: $12.
Citizen Bar: This minimalist bar, decked out in sleek red and gray tones, might seem pretentious. But don’t let the sophisticated look fool you. As the name suggests, the vibe here is warm and welcoming and makes you feel as if you belong, especially during the summer, when crowds pack its expansive deck. Join “Jimmy D” (the bar’s owner) for ladies’ poker school on Tuesday nights, or hit the rooftop when you can most enjoy it: Sunday morning for a brunch of steak and eggs or amaretto French toast. 364 W Erie St (312-640-1156). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Chicago. Bus: 66, 125. Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat noon–3am. Patio closes at 10:30pm weeknights and 11:30pm weekends. Average cocktail: $5.
HC: When the Hunt Club was revamped (and renamed) a few months ago, the sports-bar feeling was the first thing to go. In its place, three levels of plush, mocha-toned cocktail lounge were installed (the second floor is more suited to dining than the others). But Bears fans need not worry: The plasmas are still here. It’s just the sticky floors that left. 1100 N State St (312-988-7887). El: Red to Chicago. Bus: 22, 36, 70. Mon–Fri noon–4am; Sat 11am–5am; Sun 11am–4am. Average cocktail: $6.
Joe’s on Weed: Even with 120 TV screens, it’s mind-boggling that this quintessential sports bar manages to pack all 20,000 feet of its warehouselike space with people—on nights when the Illini are playing, you can’t even move. When the game’s not on, musical acts (Tone-Loc is still considered music, right?) and an outdoor patio keep the place buzzing. 940 W Weed St (312-337-3486). El: Red to North/Clybourn. Bus: 8, 72. Mon–Thu 5pm–2am; Fri 5pm–4am; Sat noon–5am; Sun varies (call ahead). Average beer: $4.
Juicy Wine Co.: Walking into this wine bar—so warm with wood tones yet impeccably contemporary, a meat-and-cheesemonger working passionately to complete orders, a wall of well-chosen, well-priced wines—is like walking into the coolest wine bar in London, or the coolest wine bar in New York…only guess what? It just happens to be the coolest wine bar in Chicago. 694 N Milwaukee Ave (312-492-6620). El: Blue to Chicago. Bus: 56, 66. Mon–Thu 4pm–1am; Fri 4pm–2am; Sat 4pm–3am (closed Sun). Average glass of wine: $10.
Bice Bistro: There are two types of people who drink in this classic bar, which is full of dark wood and brass: tourists staying in the Talbott Hotel who don’t know anywhere else to drink, and locals who know that anywhere else isn’t half as classy. 20 E Delaware Pl (312-944-4970). El: Red to Chicago. Bus: 36, 66, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151. Sun–Thu 8am–1:30pm; Fri, Sat 8am–2am. Average cocktail: $7.
The Cedar Hotel: We could try to scare you away from the Cedar Hotel. We could tell you the host has arms bigger than our legs. Or that we threw down $14 for a 24-ounce “keepsake” cocktail that came in a plastic cup we most certainly did not want to keep. Or that the “Fifty/50 signatures”—like sliders and burgers—were nothing we’d ever sign our name to. But the people-watching is so damn mesmerizing we might just be back ourselves. 1112 N State St (312-944-1112). El: Red to Clark/Division. Bus: 36, 70, 151. Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am. Average cocktail: $14.
Harry Caray’s Tavern: Bringing a Harry Caray’s Tavern to tourist haven Navy Pier is almost as long overdue as a Cubs NL pennant. But this chain outlet does so many things right, even locals should feel at home. The bar is big and handsome, the beer list includes brews from Half Acre and Bell’s, and the Holy Cow Potato Chips arrive warm with blue cheese crumbles. Plus, there’s this pro tip for the IMAX theater crowd, courtesy of one of the friendly bartenders: “Depending on who’s working the theater, they’ll let you take drinks in with you. And we have to-go cups.” Navy Pier, 700 E Grand Ave (312-527-9700). Bus: 2, 29, 65, 66, 120, 121, 124. Sun–Thu 11am–10pm; Fri–Sat 11am–midnight. Average beer: $5.
Avenue Tavern: It’s got the requisite menu of fried food and burgers, televisions in every corner and a shot-and-beer–loving clientele. But the surroundings—stone walls, glass facade—lend this Lakeview sports bar a sensibility so laid-back and inviting that even the least sports-enthusiastic people can get into it. 2916 N Broadway (773-975-7000). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Diversey. Bus: 22, 36, 76. Mon–Fri 3pm–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am–2am. Average beer: $5.
Buck’s Saloon: There aren’t many outdoor options in Boystown, so if the chic upper deck at Sidetrack isn’t your thing, try this more peaceful patio. Weave through the front of the joint (with, yes, dead animal heads on the walls) to emerge on the back porch where, except for the bar, it feels just like you’re hanging out at an older gay guy’s backyard barbecue with beer guzzlers in frayed jean-shorts. 3439 N Halsted St (773-525-1125). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Belmont. Bus: 8, 22, 77. Mon–Fri noon–2am; Sat noon–3am; Sun 11am–2am. Average beer: $4.
Jack’s Bar and Grill: Couples and small groups flock to this dimly lit Lakeview spot (situated next to 404 Wine Bar; they’re connected inside) to cozy up by the fireplace or in one of the überhigh, black leather booths. That’s not to say you can’t go alone—just be prepared to sip your Sam Smith up at the bar. 2856 N Southport Ave (773-404-8400). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Diversey. Bus: 9, 11, 76. Mon–Fri 5pm–2am; Sat 5pm–3am (closed Sun). Average beer: $4.
Alcocks: We promised the owners we wouldn’t go into specifics about what goes on at this trader bar every last Thursday afternoon of the month. But let’s just say that if you’re straight, male, carrying a few singles in your pocket and not doing anything else at 3:30pm, you’ll be happy. Very, very happy. 411 S Wells St (312-922-1778). El: Brown, Orange, Purple (rush hours) to Quincy. Mon–Thu 11am–Mid; Fri 11am–2am. Average beer: $3.
Beer Bistro: Doing its part to keep the West Loop from succumbing to all the glitz and glamour of Randolph Street is this tavern, which carries upward of 100 beers, including Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Lindemans’ Framboise lambic on draft—both of which you can witness guys downing during Sunday-afternoon football. 1061 W Madison St (312-433-0013). Bus: 8, 19, 20. Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am. Average beer: $5.
City Pool Hall: The standard liquor lineup and menu (eggs and pancakes in the morning, burgers and quesadillas in the evening) won’t wow you. But the provisions here are just periphery to heated games of eight-ball going down on a dozen pro-quality tables (hourly rates; free on Saturday). Many of the swaggering stick slingers don’t drink at all. But us amateurs, we always play better after a couple of beers. 640 W Hubbard St (312-491-9690). El: Blue to Grand. Bus: 8 Halsted, 65 Grand. Mon–Fri 9:30am–2am; Sat 9:30am–3am (closed Sun). Average beer: $4.
Hawkeye’s Bar and Grill Chicago: Come for the pitchers, stay for the pizza—or something like that. Hawkeye’s doesn’t really impress in either department (unless you like your Miller lite and your pies plain), but when you’re rolling deep in a pack of Phi Kappa Psis out on the prowl and you’ve managed to catch the eye of one of the well-endowed waitresses, it doesn’t really matter what she’s carrying to your table, now does it? 1458 W Taylor St (312-226-3951). El: Blue to Racine. Bus: 7, 9, 12, 60. Sun–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 11am–3am. Average beer: $4.
Jefferson Tap: This bar looks like a familiar North Side baseball-crazed, watered-down pub (and if transplanted above Division Street, we’re sure the endless flat screens would serve it well) but feels a whole lot friendlier. The vibe’s got less to do with sports and more to do with West Loop urbanites chasing their work blues with pint upon pint, hella-delicious bar fare and downloaded jukebox tunes. 325 N Jefferson St (312-648-0100). El: Green, Blue, Pink to Clinton. Bus: 8, 20, 56. Sun–Wed 11am–2am; Thu, Fri 11am–4am; Sat 11am–5am. Average beer: $4.
Bobby G’s: Sometimes it’s the little things that win over our cocktail-loving hearts. In the case of Bobby G’s, it’s the nicely chilled vodka that gets poured into frosty martini glasses, the freshly sliced fruit wedges, the flickering candles, the little Snickers bars in a basket in the restroom, and a bartender who takes such time and care in mixing a tasty Bloody Mary that you’d think she was making it for herself. 6843 W Archer Ave (773-586-1724). Bus: 55A, 55N, 62, 62H. Sun–Fri noon–2am; Sat noon–3am. Average beer: $2.75.
Jimmy’s Grill: On weekends, the gigantic patio is almost always packed to the brim. And everybody from badass bikers, crotch-rocket pretty boys, loud college kids and even normal folks (shocking, we know) apparently wants a seat. It offers about the best people-watching experience in the ’burbs. 245 S Washington St,, Naperville (630-548-2500). Sun–Thu 11am–1am; Fri–Sat 11am–2am. Average beer: $4.
Bernie’s Tap & Grill: For those experiencing Cubby withdrawal, here’s a place to liquor up while looking longingly at Wrigley Field across the street. During baseball season, you could book one of two private rooms, each with a small bar, 15 seats and five TVs, and order some burgers, corn dogs or pulled-pork sandwiches while watching the game. Or do it now and watch a video of winning games. 3664 N Clark St (773-525-1898). Bus: 8, 22, 56. Mon–Fri 10am–2pm; Sat 10am–3pm; Sun 11am–2am. Average beer: $3.50.
Casey Moran’s: Can’t snag a bleacher seat at the Friendly Confines? Don’t fret. Bathed in dark woods and brimming with beer, burgers, apps and wraps, this surprisingly friendly bar just a stone’s throw north is the next-best place to park your tush on game day. With 25 HD plasma-screen TVs, you’ll catch every angle without catching a single harmful UV ray. 3660 N Clark St (773-755-4444). El: Red to Addison. Bus: 8, 22, 152. Sun–Fri 10am–2am; Sat 10am–3am. Average beer: $5.
John Barleycorn: When young college grads move to the city, this Wrigleyville sports bar/dance club is their first stop. The TVs blasting sports, greasy bar food and weekend dancing upstairs can rival any campus bar on a good Thursday night. In fact, the only thing missing is the line for keg stands. 3524 N Clark St (773-549-6000). El: Red to Addison. Bus: 22, 152. Wed–Fri 5pm–2am; Sat 5pm–3am. Opens two hours before Cubs home games Mon–Sun and one hour before Bears games Sun. Average beer: $4.