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2014 Chicago outdoor dining and drinking preview

45+ new patios, rooftops and sidewalk cafes debuting this spring and summer

  • IO Urban Roofscape
IO Urban Roofscape (RedEye photo illustration…)
May 20, 2014|By Lisa Arnett and Kate Bernot | RedEye

So, winter of 2014, right? That's all we have to say about Chiberia, snowpocalypse, polar vortex—whatever it was we all just lived through. Patio season is always highly anticipated in Chicago, but this year we may see stampedes to the first rooftops and sidewalks cafes open for business.

Thankfully, this summer promises plenty of brand new outdoor spots, from fourth-floor cocktail gardens to European-style sidewalk seating. Keep an eye on these 45-plus new sunny spots debuting this spring and summer. Raise a glass on a rooftop—we made it, Chicago.

See new patios mapped by neighborhood 

IO Urban Roofscape
127 W. Huron St. 312-649-2000
IO—that stands for indoor/outdoor—Urban Roofscape offers multiple areas for socializing on The Godfrey Hotel's fourth floor: tents, lounge chairs and a waterfall to one side of the video bar, plus an outdoor fireplace flanked by wooden benches, clusters of cabanas and more. Bottle service and cocktails by the pitcher encourage you to come with a group, and a retractable roof covers the outdoor bar when the weather won't cooperate.
ETA: Open now, weather permitting
We're picturing: Laid-back lounging during the day turning to bottle-service boozing by night

The Dawson
730 W. Grand Ave. 312-243-8955
Because it opened at the extreme tail end of last year's outdoor season, The Dawson's 150-seat patio didn't get the shine it deserves. A stone fireplace, communal tables and border greenery make the space a surprising escape from the busy intersection of Grand, Milwaukee and Halsted where it's located. Beverage director Annemarie Sagoi has new cocktails in the works including a margarita, a frozen mai tai and boozy freeze pops. >>Read our review of The Dawson
ETA: Open now, weather permitting
We're picturing: Finding every excuse possible to meet up with friends for mezcal freeze pops

Nico Osteria
1015 N Rush St. 312-994-7100
The latest hot spot from One Off Hospitality (The Publican, Blackbird, Big Star, to name a few) is about to get even hotter with the debut of umbrella-topped sidewalk seating around the restaurant's perimeter along Rush and Bellevue, plus more tables by the Thompson Hotel's entrance on Bellevue. The added seats—about 80 in total—should make it a bit easier to get a taste of pastas and seafood from chef Erling Wu-Bower and decadent breads and sweets from pastry chef Amanda Rockman. >>Read our review of Nico Osteria
ETA: Now open, weather permitting
We're picturing: Popping bottles of rose and savoring plates of crudo

Sportsman's Club
948 N. Western Ave. 872-206-8054
Partner Jeff Donahue likes to refer to the Ukrainian Village bar's forthcoming rear patio as a backyard. "Some of the trees back there are really old and create a nice canopy," Donahue said, and referenced plans for communal tables, a fire pit and earlier weekend hours (opening at noon) to facilitate Sunday afternoon DJ sessions. A satellite bar will serve refreshing cocktails, cans of beer and bottles of rose, with table seating for 40 people.
ETA: Open now, weather permitting
We're picturing: A laid-back hangout hip enough to rival Parson's patio

118 W. Grand Ave. 312-222-9700
This lively Peruvian restaurant and bar in River North is prepping its indoor-outdoor rooftop for a spring debut. A staircase near the main entrance will lead straight up to an indoor bar area seating 30-35 and an outdoor space with seating for about 100 surrounding a skylight that looks down to the dining room below. A smaller-scale food menu will be available, and similar to downstairs, a cebiche (Peruvian ceviche) chef will slice raw fish to order on the second floor. >>Open now, weather permitting
We're picturing: Pretty people sipping pisco sours

671 N. St. Clair St. 312-642-1800
At this Italian stunner in Streeterville, a massive sidewalk cafe wrapping around Erie and St. Clair streets will feature seating for 100 at traditional tables and lounge furniture shaded by bright orange umbrellas. A summery cocktail menu is in the works for a June debut. >>Read our review of Cicchetti
ETA: Now open, weather permitting
We're picturing: An escape from the terror of Mag Mile tourists

111 W. Hubbard St. 312-828-9000
Just as elegant as the first- and second-floor bars at this River North cocktail lounge, Celeste's English garden-inspired fourth-floor rooftop will feel like a cozy, tucked-away oasis thanks to two brick walls that block views of downtown traffic. Frozen drinks and carbonated cocktails are planned for the outdoor bar surrounded by plush, cream-colored Victorian couches, vines creeping up the brick and oversized wooden mirrors. Owners plan to cap seating at 65 people to keep the space feeling airy and uncrowded. >>Read our review of Celeste
ETA: End of May
We're picturing: Hiding away with bubbly cocktails when we're looking to relax, not rage, on a rooftop

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