Al Fresco Seasons Heats up in Chicago

Life goes on post-winter. This is best evidenced by the surging al fresco scene in Chicago, as more and more restaurants and bars roll out patios in eager anticipation of consistently warm weather. And we couldn't be happier. Here's where to eat and drink outside this season while basking in Vitamin D. 

(Cicchetti's patio will look something like this)

Cicchetti: Opening May 12, Cicchetti's sidewalk patio promises 100 extra seats in both sit-down and lounge styles. The ample sidewalk spread will wrap around Erie and St. Clair in the Streeterville 'hood, bedecked in sultry stingray umbrellas that will make you feel like you're relaxing in Venice. 

NoMI Kitchen: For a patio with an impressive view, it's hard to beat NoMI Kitchen, a seventh floor oasis overlooking Chicago's Magnificent Mile. The NoMI Garden is where the al fresco bliss takes place, ideally accentuated with sushi, yakitori, and housemade milkshakes. 

Chuck's: A Kerry Simon Kitchen: A brand new summer patio is in the works at this hip Michigan Avenue gastro-haunt. The custom-built sidewalk patio rolls out on May 1, immersed in burgundy florals and greenery, providing a cozy oasis in the heart of Chicago's downtown melee. Great setting in which to enjoy caprese burgers and white peach sangria. 

Tanta: Tanta's hotly anticipated second floor patio and pisco lounge is an indoor/outdoor respite launching next month. With 35 seats indoors, 85 outdoors, and a bar loaded with pisco-focused cocktails, this is the place to linger this summer. There's also a cool skylight in the floor of the patio that looks down into the main dining room. 

The Boarding House: The perfect zen getaway from the hustle and bustle of River North is The Boarding House's quaint patio along Superior Street. Surrounded by flowers, the hushed enclave includes 25 seats, making for the perfect space to lounge with rose, charcuterie, pizza, and Riesling. 

DryHop Brewers: Lakeview's hopping brewery, DryHop Brewers, welcomes warmer weather with a brand new patio. Nestled on fast-paced Broadway at the nexus of East Lakeview, this 16-seater makes for prime people-watching, beer-imbibing, and burger-bingeing. 

Frontier: The 2,500 square foot beer garden at Frontier is ready for all your al fresco eating and drinking needs. The enclosed space is open year-round, but windows retract to unveil open air and sky for warmer, sunnier days. With ample seating for 100, the space also features a full-service bar, a fireplace, and mutiple televisions. 

Doc B's Fresh Kitchen: Doc B's takes a genius approach to the al fresco experience. The Gold Coast nook features a massive 20-foot long airplane hanger-style window in front, which can retract instantly to bring a bit of the outdoors inward. This is helped along by the addition of suspended greenery strewn across the ceiling. Once warm weather is consistent, the restaurant will also launch its sidewalk patio on Walton. 

- Matt Kirouac