This content was originally published by The Hop Review, a digital magazine that joined the Hop Culture family in March 2020.
This piece was written by Jack Muldowney.
As patio season unofficially begins again in Chicago (we hope it’s here to stay), the chance to have an al fresco beer is again top of mind. So, we found it fitting to resurrect our list of 40 spots in the city to best enjoy a beer and some fresh air.
Below is The Hop Review’s list of these outdoor patios, rooftops, sidewalk cafés and backyards. We list ’em in no particular order and include what you oughta have in hand at each location.
So get to it, a warm week is ahead of you…
We’ll start out strong, and obvious. Hopleaf is Chicago’s craft beer mecca. And it’s tiny back patio is the perfect city respite from bustling Clark St. out front – if you can snag a seat. We recommend right after the lunch rush.
You’re drinking: Pater 6 from St. Bernardus.
5148 N Clark St – Andersonville
Don’t mind the uneven pavement of The Bar on Buena’s sidewalk café. This Buena Park joint boasts one of the city’s most underrated beer menus, from the folks behind Fountainhead.
You’re drinking: Weissenheimer Hefeweizen from Destihl.
910 W Buena Ave – Buena Park
3. SPOKE & BIRD
This modest café inside a city park building only boasts six taps, but rest assured, they’re all damn good. And, the patio is a massive swath of this quiet part of the neighborhood.
205 E 18th St – South Loop
A reputable rock venue? Yes. An underrated rooftop space with sweeping views of the skyline, the L and plenty of room to set up shop? Yes. Grab a cold can and head outside.
You’re drinking: Daisy Cutter from Half Acre
1375 W Lake St – West Loop
5. KAISER TIGER
Head around the corner to this Randolph St. anchor and grab a pint from this bar cousin to Paddy Long’s. An impressive biergarten with communal seating (and bocce!), and a front sidewalk patio.
You’re drinking: American Pale Ale from BrickStone Brewery
1415 W Randolph St – West Loop
Tucked behind a park district building, this is Edgewater’s lakeside secret. Not an impressive menu by any means, but score one of their few craft beers and take in the views. It’ll save you a trip to the Northwoods.
You’re drinking: All Day IPA from Founders
6219 N Sheridan – Edgewater
Easily the city’s most beautiful bar space with a beautiful view. If you are willing to wait in line at the CAA, this view can be yours too, for the price of a $9 beer. Trust us, it’s worth it.
You’re drinking: Steeped Emperor’s Lemon Saison from Moody Tongue
12 S Michigan Ave – Loop
This private-feeling rooftop on the North Side is one of our go-tos. Everything about it just seems…right. And this gastropub does not disappoint.
You’re drinking: 27 Blocks from Lake Effect Brewing
1970 W Montrose – Ravenswood
The Boulevards’ favorite gravel beer garden gets its use during these warm days. Don’t skip this trendy spot – just skip the food and grab beers under those striped umbrellas.
You’re drinking: Anti-Hero from Revolution
2952 W Armitage – Logan Square
10. Dryhop brewers
One of only three breweries on our list, DryHop is an al fresco A+. Even if you can’t score a spot on the small sidewalk patio, the open-front space always allows for some sun and fresh air.
You’re drinking: Shark Meets Hipster from DryHop Brewers
3155 N Broadway – Lakeview
11. THE LONG ROOM
There’s a good chance you’ve been to the Long Room a handful of times and never been on the patio. It’s tucked back there though, we promise. Order from the impressive tap list and go take a seat out back.
You’re drinking: Overrated IPA from Surly Brewing
1612 W Irving Park – Northcenter
A must-visit beer garden for anyone in Chicago. The neighborhood pub’s outdoor space fills fast, especially on Cubs game days. And heads up, the better beer is inside.
You’re drinking: Two Hearted from Bell’s
3258 N Sheffield Ave – Lakeview
13. THE ABERDEEN TAP
A neighborhood favorite to those in the West Loop-West Town area, Aberdeen Tap sports a great curated beer list – as well as some of the best bar food around. And a sneaky view of the Sears Tower.
You’re drinking: Cane & Ebel from Two Brothers
440 N Aberdeen – West Town
14. TWISTED SPOKE
Head to this West Side biker bar for their modest rooftop overlooking Ogden & Grand. When you get your share of sun, head down for some whiskey at the bar.
You’re drinking: Anchor Steam from Anchor Brewing
501 N Ogden Ave – West Town
15. RESI’S BIERSTUBE
One of Chicago’s best kept secrets, this biergarten is barely advertised and feels like your grandma’s backyard. Fittingly, the interior might also look like your grandma’s basement. German beers here.
You’re drinking: Hefeweizen from Erdinger Brauerei
2034 W Irving Park – Northcenter
Sadly, this space is pretty tacky and devoid of any character whatsoever. But, you simply can’t beat this view and people watching on the new Riverwalk.
You’re drinking: Blanche de Bruxelles from Lefebvre
55 Chicago Riverwalk – Loop
Sausage and beer. Beer and sausage. And rooftop. This is Lincoln Square’s best bet for a warm day. Not so surprisingly, you’ll be having German beer, in cans.
You’re drinking: Krombacher Pils from Krombacher
4750 N Lincoln – Lincoln Square
18. THE PROMONTORY
This sharp South Side spot is not actually that close to Promontory Point as the name might suggest. Still, even without lake views, the patio is calm and relaxing.
You’re drinking: Krank Shaft from Metropolitan Brewing
5311 S Lake Park – Hyde Park
One of a few new additions to Lincoln Square to hop on the craft bandwagon. Although fairly no-frills, this patio is large and sunny with just the right amount of canopy shade. And, there’s BBQ.
You’re drinking: P2 from Penrose Brewing Co.
4535 N Lincoln – Lincoln Square
Atop the Rafaello Hotel, this posh bar is classic Chicago. Although cocktails are their forte, it’s worth it even to grab a beer or cider just to see this former penthouse space in the shadows of the Hancock.
You’re drinking: Blue Gold from Vandermill Cider
201 E Delaware Pl – Streeterville
21. TEN CAT TAVERN
Lakeview – You’re drinking: Old Style by Heileman’s
22. BANGERS & LACE
Wicker Park – You’re drinking: Ghost of L’ectricity by Around the Bend
23. BREHON PUB
River North – You’re drinking: Smithwick’s by Guinness
Andersonville – You’re drinking: Grapefruit Sculpin by Ballast Point
25. BILLY SUNDAY
Logan Square – You’re drinking: Maiden Voyage by Aquanaut Brewing Co.
26. THE ORBIT ROOM
Avondale – You’re drinking: Grapefruit Radler by Stiegl
South Loop – You’re drinking: Alpha King by Three Floyds
28. JACK & GINGER’S
Bucktown – You’re drinking: Matilda by Goose Island
Lakeview – You’re drinking: Rua by Ale Syndicate
31. UNCOMMON GROUND
Edgewater – You’re drinking: Monk’s Libation by UC’s Greenstar Brewing
32. HOWELLS & HOOD
Streeterville – You’re drinking: Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ by Lagunitas
33. SPORTSMAN’S CLUB
Humboldt Park – You’re drinking: 16 Bit by Tallgrass
34. HAPPY VILLAGE
Ukrainian Village – You’re drinking: Hamm’s by Hamm’s
35. VILLAGE TAP
Roscoe Village – You’re drinking: Tripel Stamp by Begyle Brewing
36. THE MATCHBOX
River West – You’re drinking: Schlitz Tall Boy by Schlitz
37. MOODY’S PUB
Edgewater – You’re drinking: Sir Dunkel Dark by Berghoff
38. COMPASS BAR
Lincoln Park – You’re drinking: Mourning Wood by Local Option
West Loop – You’re drinking: Mathias Imperial IPA by Haymarket
River North – You’re drinking: Chicago Gold by Rock Bottom
Editor’s note: This piece was originally published August 13, 2015 to mark the final 40 days of summer. But, we still stand by the suggestions here, so happy drinking, Chicago.