Chicago's Best Steakhouse Patios
At long last, the fickle April weather is leveling off and warm weather is here to stay — hopefully. Until next winter at least. Naturally, Chicagoans are hankering to get outside and make the most of the season by dining and drinking on patios all over the city. With so many options to choose from across the city, we’ve helped whittle down the list to a few standout selections.
III Forks Prime Steakhouse: Outfitted with cozy cabanas on the expansive rooftop terrace, this Lakeshore East steakhouse makes for one of the best surefire hits of the season. The spacious lounge provides panoramic vistas of the glistening nearby skyscrapers, hotels, and residences, which is a nice backdrop for enjoying New York strip steaks, flatbreads, filet skewers, cocktails, and wine. Just in case it gets chilly, the terrace is equipped with fireplaces.
Tavern on Rush: One of the most iconic patios in Chicago, the al fresco scene at Tavern on Rush is serious business, and a legit pastime for outdoor diners in the Gold Coast. The restaurant features a massive outdoor area that winds around its entire exterior. Between the steaks, the pizzas, the Manhattans, and the ambience, Tavern on Rush can’t be beat, especially during these prized warmer months.
Swift & Sons: Located behind the Fulton Market restaurant, surrounded by the immaculate Google building, the patio features a tasteful and comfortable mix of tables with Swift & Sons-branded planters bursting with lush greenery.
Smith & Wollensky: Nestled right alongside the Chicago River, with prime views of the bustling Riverwalk, the patio at Smith & Wollensky is a Chicago institution in and of itself. The outdoor space isn’t quite as fancy as the restaurant’s opulent interior, but that’s just because the appeal and focus is clearly on its illustrious surroundings and its unparalleled views. Open during lunch, happy hour and dinner, the patio peddles the same menu as the dining room, with the likes of rib-eye carpaccio, tuna tartare, filet mignon sliders and more decadent dishes like a new Snake River Farms American Wagyu sirloin, served on Himalayan salt blocks with togarashi hollandaise, pickled radish and shiitakes.
Erie Cafe: This River North standby is adjacent to a peaceful, secluded park, with views of the Chicago River. It's a nice quiet respite from the more frenzied areas where all the other steakhouses are located. Food-wise, your best course of action is to start by ordering a few rounds of appetizers, especially mussels marinara, a dozen baked clams, Italian sausage with peppers and classic Caprese salad.
Chicago Cut Steakhouse: The massive 100-seat outdoor patio at this riverside mainstay lines offers a more secluded setting in which to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner; at least, secluded by downtown standards. Watch the boats and water taxis drift by as you nosh on organic egg white omelets or a sandwich stuffed with scrambled eggs, smoked Applewood bacon, white cheddar and tomatoes. Come dinner, enjoy BBQ ribs, a shellfish bouquet or spinach fettuccine with summer vegetables.
Maple & Ash: While the steakhouse itself doesn’t have a patio off its main dining room, its casual Eight Bar features a gorgeous al fresco alternative in the Gold Coast. Look for boozy cocktails and casual American comfort food (burgers and fried chicken are particularly exemplary), along with plenty of rosé in the sunny months to come.