Go Alfresco!

Roof at the Wit

(Photo: Roof at the Wit)

Ahh, summer in Chicago. After another brutal, seemingly endless winter, it's 75 and sunny outside. Although you still have to toil away in your overly air-conditioned office, you can take comfort in knowing that your favorite beer garden or outdoor dining spot awaits you when the work day is over. This summer, why not mix it up a bit and try some of Chicago's newest alfresco options? From rooftops to sidewalk cafes to hidden back patios, make this your checklist for the perfect alfresco summer.

M Burger

Few things can perk up the work day like lunch outside. With very minimal seating inside this counter-service burger joint, the new, canopied patio at M Burger is scheduled to open along Huron Street this month. Wash down your burger and fries with a refreshing peach iced tea--and rays of glorious sunshine.

Franks 'N' Dawgs

Another reason to get out of line at Hot Doug's and into Lincoln Park's Franks 'N' Dawgs: a secluded back patio on which to enjoy your gourmet dogs. After ordering your grub and picking out your favorite celebrity to dine with (diners are asked to choose from laminated pictures of Tina Fey, Snoop Dogg and Michael Jordan, among others, to take to their table), head out back and grab a seat at one of the tree-shaded picnic tables. You can even bring a few beers or a bottle of wine (Trader Joe's is across the street) and settle in for a while, as this place is BYOB.


In case this massive restaurant wasn't big enough for you already, a 3,000-square-foot rooftop deck--with "epic" views of the city, specialty cocktails and its own menu--will open this spring. This could become quite the see-and-be-seen destination for the downtown suits and skirts.


A very welcome addition to the neighborhood, Fountainhead features craft beers, updated pub fare--and a rooftop patio, set to open this summer and decorated with English-inspired streetlights, green space and a fountain. With staff from Bar on Buena and Sheffield's on board (two of my favorite outdoor drinking establishments), expectations are--pardon my pun--through the roof.

Big Star

Finally, a chance to get your hands on Paul Kahan's tacos without worrying that someone else's hand...or elbow...or hair...is going to get to it first. This always-crowded Bucktown hot spot is more than doubling its capacity with a new outdoor patio, so if you haven't been there yet, now may be the time. In case it's still filled to brim (which it very well may be), there's always the handy take-out window and the nearby Wicker Park in which to enjoy your pork belly.