Now Playing

Fresh ‘n’ Alfresco

As the great outdoors beckon this spring, kick back at one of Chicago’s many happening spots.


The Terrace at The Peninsula Chicago

Even by our hardened Midwestern standards, this winter was a long, cold one—which makes the burgeoning warm weather even more enjoyable. Along with jogs along the lake and trips to the Lincoln Park Zoo, celebrate the rebirth of the city at these new or revamped outdoor spots.

1. Azzurra
Enjoy dining under azure skies at Wicker Park’s newest Italian destination, from the team behind Andersonville faves Ombra and Anteprima. Visitors can reward themselves for scoring one of the 12 rustic patio seats along this buzzing stretch of Milwaukee Avenue with a prosecco spritz and delicious grilled, stuffed calamari. Azzurra offers some prime people-watching to boot. 1467 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773.278.5959

2. CH Distillery
How better to enjoy a stiff drink than at the very distillery at which it was crafted? This spring Chicago’s only distillery cocktail bar unveils its cozy 20-seat patio lounge. Beat the heat with boozy snow cones and crisp, clean ice-cold vodka shots served in the Russian tradition. 564 W. Randolph St., 312.707.8780

3. Tony Mantuano Project
Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the historic Reid Murdoch building that houses it, the former Fulton’s on the River space is scheduled to come back to life, this time with celebrity chef Tony Mantuano at the helm. Mantuano won’t be serving his trademark Italian fare here, however, but rather rustic American cuisine—which countless patrons will no doubt enjoy on the best-in-class riverside patio. 315 N. LaSalle St.

4. Sportsman’s Club
This masculine new antler-adorned, wood-paneled spot from Heisler Hospitality is a great place to challenge a pal to a game of tabletop checkers while sipping a glass of scotch. The patio, scheduled to open this spring, is equally appealing for guy’s guys, with a backyard fire pit, cocktail kegs and a whole-animal Sunday barbecue series. 948 N. Western Ave., 872.206.8054

5. I|O Urban Roofscape

Located atop the new Godfrey Hotel, this 15,000-square-foot lounge is named for its breezy indoor-outdoor design. Beyond the plush banquettes of the bar and through a sliding glass wall, the space features a sprawling video screen, gleaming fire pits, water elements and a state-of-the-art retractable roof to take in the southern skyline. 127 W. Huron St., 312.649.2000

6. Table, Donkey and Stick
This whimsical Brothers Grimm-inspired spot nestled in Logan Square is known for its hearty, Alps-influenced dishes and mountain-flower-infused cocktails. New this spring to the homey 20-seat wood-fenced patio is a monthly barbecue hosted by chef Scott Manley. 2728 W. Armitage Ave., 773.486.8525

7. The Dawson
Named for late brothers William and Henry Dawson who once operated a booming fireplace mantle company in the neighborhood, this buzzy new spot strives to deliver fare of equal caliber craftsmanship. Enjoy kicky bites like Sriracha anchovy deviled eggs and red apple miso smoked chicken on the sizable 150-seat outdoor garden patio. At night, settle in for a drink in the glow of the handsome stone fireplace. 730 W. Grand Ave., 312.243.8955

8. The Terrace
This iconic alfresco dining destination at The Peninsula Chicago launches the summer season with a theme of The Secret Garden, expressed through an exciting series of surprise cocktails, a herb garden and a sampling of the chef’s secret family recipes. Settle into a spot on one of the posh red-canopied sofas to unwind amid breathtaking city views. 108 E. Superior St., 312.337.2888

9. Yum Cha Dim Sum
Backed by Intrestco, the team behind Mount Prospect hot spot e+o Food and Drink, chef Rodelio Aglibot’s new Lake Shore East concept promises to be a can’t-miss destination for dim sum-lovers. Take a seat at the wraparound patio with views of Millennium Park and snatch bites from one of the carts zipping by. 333 E. Randolph St.

10. Plein Air Cafe
A partnership between entrepreneur Soo Choi and restaurateur Kevin Heisner, this eagerly awaited cafe in the heart of University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus is scheduled to open this spring. The menu features simple, European-inspired dishes to pair with the cafe’s rotating seasonal artisanal coffee selection. Named after the French expression for painting outdoors, the cozy 40-seat patio is the perfect spot to spend an afternoon with a paperback and a cup of pour-over. 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.