5 of the Best Outdoor Dining Spots in Chicago

Shed that heavy coat and dig those sunglasses out of the bottom of your bag because it's finally patio season. Chicago has countless decks, rooftops, gardens and curbs where you can grab a bite under the fleeting summer sun. Here are five of the best spots in Chicago to dine al fresco.

Ada Street
Ada Street is an American-Mediterranean restaurant and cocktail bar with an amazing backyard. Its candlelit courtyard, covered in artificial turf and surrounded by brick walls, feels like an incredibly chic barbecue, complete with outdoor games and music. But it's the moderately pricey food that makes this outdoor spot everyone's favorite. The small plates menu and cocktails list make it perfect for a date or group gathering.

Parson's Chicken & Fish
Nothing says outdoor dining perfection like fried chicken and frozen cocktails on picnic tables. Logan Square restaurant Parson's Chicken & Fish has a sprawling patio perfect for a low-key summer day. Whether chicken, fish, hush puppies or all of the above are your thing, you won't be disappointed by the menu. And ordering the much-lauded frozen Negroni is practically mandatory to help wash down the food.

River Roast
Feel the refreshing water breezes while dining along the Chicago River at the River Roast restaurant. The picturesque views of the water and downtown make the already-delicious contemporary pub fare taste even better. The vibe is laid-back but dressy, and the live music and extensive menu make it a great spot for a date or group party. Outdoor seating likely will require some extra wait time, but it's definitely worth it.

Live outdoor dining life to the fullest at Cindy's, located on the top level of the ritzy Chicago Athletic Association. The rooftop restaurant and open-air terrace boasts views of Chicago's downtown, the lake and beyond. The menu mostly consists of shareable plates that are well-portioned for a group. The bar gets busy, especially on peak nights, but the bartenders work hard to keep up with the demand. Keep in mind you'll be paying for the view, and the view isn't cheap.

Bang Bang Pie Shop
There's pie, and then there's pie on a picnic table in a rustic yard surrounded by greenery and twinkle lights. Bang Bang Pie Shop provides the latter. Enjoy a slice or three on the Logan Square restaurant's huge, comfortable patio. And don't overlook the rest of the menu. The biscuits, pot pies and other sweet and savory items are worth the carb indulgence.

Mary Daly is a journalist from Chicago. She thinks food tastes better when you're outside.