Chicago restaurants herald spring with fresh dishes and outdoor settings

To paraphrase poet Alexander Pope, our hopes for spring are eternal here in the middle of the country as sudden chilly winds toy with our sunniness. We're fairly sure that minimum 65-degree temps are here to stay and even if they're not, scads of robust Chicagoans don sandals and shorts sans shivers. We can explore the outdoors on lush patios and any of the burgeoning rooftops that restaurants and hotels open as the first crocus and daffodils push through the warming earth. Offering the season’s first bounty on the plate and in the glass, a clutch of eateries work overtime via food, location and service to serve the season through all the senses. 

Terraces and rooftops transport diners from the cacophony of the streets to a happy place of laughter, great bites and sips. Noyane,  Streeterville Social, Cabana Club  and Upstairs at The Gwen  fit the prodigious bill. Those preferring their spring dining closer to earth but still outdoors should pencil in stops at The Patio at Cafe Brauer, the venerable Tavern on Rush,  City Mouse  and Shore Club. Revel in unparalleled, unpretentious service in a country French ambience at George Trois  where Chef Michael Lachowicz uses innovative techniques to take dining to an artful level minus the heaviness of traditional French cuisine.  

Bring on the ramps. morels, asparagus and fiddlehead ferns! 





A restaurant smack dab on North Avenue Beach? Yes, please! Shore Club features unobstructed views of Lake Michigan when dining in the restaurant, the outdoor patio or lolling in a cabana on the Oasis. You'll enjoy floor to ceiling glass windows...  Read More



Mahalo is a tropical-inspired destination in the heart of Wicker Park that just uploaded new spring menu items perfect for warmer weather. Launch with Dip Duo, a mash of house-made pineapple salsa and chunky guacamole, served with crispy wonton...  Read More



We Midwesterners cherish the months when we can bare our shoulders and worry about SPF levels instead snowfall. Otherwise known as "we love our restaurants with rooftops. The Gwen hotel launches new spring menus for its outdoor terrace and...  Read More

Gold Coast


At the first buzz of bumble bees, songbirds' melodies and the Cubs and Sox hitting 'em out of the park, homo sapiens emerge from the nest and onto outdoor patios. Tavern on Rush, on the corner of Rush and Bellevue Place, is a perfect perch to...  Read More



Cabana Club, atop the boutique Robey Chicago, anticipates Chicagoans' anticipation of summer this spring with a backyard pool party look and a reimagined menu. And get a load of the 180-degree views of the skyline. You'll recall childhood...  Read More



Although known for croissants and foie gras, French food is also light and fresh - like a spring day - if you go to George Trois. Chef Michael Lachowicz uses innovative techniques to take dining to an artful level without the heaviness and...  Read More



One of West Loop's hottest restaurants, City Mouse is Ace Hotel Chicago's signature eatery. Chef Jason Vincent and his team from the critically praised, Giant, opened in August 2017 to pretty much immediate acclaim. City Mouse offers indoor...  Read More



When the The Patio at Cafe Brauer opens, it's officially spring. A few steps south of the main grounds of Lincoln Park Zoo, Café Brauer is an historic Prairie School-style edifice that overlooks a pond at the park's Nature Boardwalk. You'll...  Read More



Expect s casually chic environment, inventive bites and refreshing beverages at The Bistro at Streeterville Social, open daily (weather permitting) with views of the unmatched skyline. Warmer weather menu highlights include Clam Stuffies –...  Read More



Noyane ("hidden rooftop" in Japanese), on the 21st floor of the Conrad Chicago, stands apart from proliferating rooftop restaurants. Combine eye-popping views with a roster of shareable maki rolls, barbecue items plus fun desserts and you have...  Read More


Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky