It’s the first 70-degree day in months and you have visions of a perfect outdoor dining experience with the fam. There’s no time to research in between playdates, soccer matches and diaper changes. But we’ve got you covered thanks to crowdsourced recs from trusted parents. These dining dreams promise good food, great patios and enough room for the whole clan. In a city that loves to eat, narrowing the list to a few is challenging, but here’s our best effort for family-friendly dining on all sides of the city.
[Related: You can make eating out with your kids actually enjoyable]
Flo & Santos South Loop; 1310 S. Wabash Ave., floandsantos.com
Food: Pizza, pierogies and beer
Al fresco highlight: A spacious beer garden nestled just off of the El tracks makes this a cozy neighborhood hangout for the entire family, including Fido.
Pro tip: Live acoustic music on the patio on Thursdays
Café Selmarie Lincoln Square; 4729 N. Lincoln Ave., cafeselmarie.com
Food: Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner
Al fresco highlight: Tucked in the heart of Lincoln Square, the outdoor seating and European pastries give off old world vibes, plus kids can run around in the square next to the seating.
Pro tip: Don’t leave without a baked goodie.
Nella Pizza e Pasta Hyde Park, 1125 E. 55th St., nellachicago.com
Food: Pizza, Italian
Al fresco highlight: Sleek, sophisticated outdoor seating for simply excellent Italian dining
Pro tip: Order anything. Reviews argue it’s one of the best Italian spots in the city. Debate ignited.
Easy Street Portage Park, 3750 N. Central Ave., easystreetpizzachicago.com
Al fresco highlight: Enjoy the patio and the big game with flat screens outside.
Pro tip: Before you dig into your pizza, try the cheese curds.
[Related: Chicago date-night ideas that go beyond dinner and drinks]
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits Logan Square, 2051 N. California Ave., & Ravenswood, 4947 N. Damen Ave., bangbangpie.com
Food: Breakfast/brunch, bakery
Al fresco highlight: At the Logan location, the casual, stylish patio more than doubles the seating on a warm day, and the facing patio doors provide ’Gram-worthy shots.
Pro tip: Pie and biscuits are included in the name for a reason. Try both!
The Waterfront Cafe Edgewater, 6219 N. Sheridan Rd., waterfrontcafechicago.com
Food: American, seafood
Al fresco highlight: Live music most evenings in the summer. The perfect urban oasis if you need a quick getaway from the real world.
Pro tip: Take the CTA (Red Line: Granville), bike or walk to avoid parking challenges.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken Avondale, 3361 N. Elston Ave., honeybutter.com
Food: American, chicken
Al fresco highlight: The spacious yet comfy patio on a warm summer night makes you feel like you’re hanging in your bestie’s backyard. Plus, there are always activities for the kids.
Pro tip: Come for the chicken, stay for the pimiento mac & cheese.