Best Chicago Steakhouses for Al Fresco Dining...and Sometimes Horse Racing


When you think of steakhouses in a meat-and-potatoes city like Chicago, what probably comes to mind is a dark, wood-paneled, leather-bound palace of protein. But take all that outdoors and you have a totally different atmosphere and feel.


Several Chicago steakhouses now offer alfresco patio dining, and because we Chicagoans have such a long winter, we like to be outside whenever it’s not life-threatening.


Here are five of Chicago’s best steakhouses for al fresco dining…and sometimes horseracing. Did we get your attention? Please read on.

3Forks Chicago


RL. RL, the grill attached to the chic Mag Mile location of Ralph Lauren’s casual fashion empire, is making some changes to their patio; they’ll be open in early May. When they do, you will dine there to find that that you’ll be treated to not only the best people-watching in the city but also some of the best steak. Filet mignon, New York strip and bone-in ribeye are all prime Angus beef. Order one of these beautiful pieces of meat, sit back and enjoy the beautiful people on parade.


ALK. Opening its brand-new patio for the first time since the restaurant launched in October 2018, About Last Knife now offers street-level café dining affording beautiful views of Millennium Park. Serving from the full menu on the patio, there are a bevy of happy hour special beverages. ALK’s first large-format cocktail, St. Germain Spritz, in a pitcher, is ready to make the whole group happy. When it’s time for dinner, there’s the beautiful steak: ALK Hangar Steak with ALK Sauce, 16 oz. ribeye with Bearnaise, and, of course, the legendary beef Wellington by the slice.

Smith & Wollensky


Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse. One of Chicago’s best steakhouses, Smith & Wollensky also occupies some of the very best restaurant real estate in the city. Along the Chicago River, with beautiful views of the city panorama up and down that water way, Smith & Wollensky provides locals and tourists alike with a truly memorable “Chicago Experience.” And then there’s the steaks, including USDA prime boneless New York strip, bone-in Kansas City Cut sirloin, and bone-in ribeye. The steaks are fantastic, and you may order another just to enjoy the view a little more.


Tavern on Rush. They call it the Viagra Triangle, but it might as well be called the Red Meat Mecca, given the plethora of steak protein available in this near northside neighborhood. Tavern on Rush is part of that group that serves some of the best steak around, and you can sit on the street and watch all the action. To go with your voyeurism, there’s a menu full of excellent steak, like USDA prime filet, strip, dry aged ribeye, two sizes of porterhouse, and even the rarely seen Chateaubriand for two.


III Forks.  If you’ve read this far, you’re probably starting to wonder “so where’s the horse racing?” When Derby Day rolls around in the spring, III Forks is staging a special Derby Day Soiree, with mint juleps, lots of seersucker suits and many, many awesome hats. If it starts to get chilly, the cabanas have built-in heaters…so you can warm up and order a juicy steak. III Forks lays out many delicious options, including USDA prime flat iron ribeye and tomahawk. Oh…and on Derby Day, there’s a simulcast of the big race and lots of themed cocktails. Even if you’re not holding a winning ticket, you’ll feel just great about spending Derby Day at III Forks.

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