With patio season well underway, restaurants are breaking out the string lighting and we’re breaking down Wicker Park’s top 5 rooftops, courtyards, and beer gardens for libation-fueled lounging. Read up, drink up, repeat as needed. You earned it this winter.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken | 3361 N Elston Ave
Quick-serve outfit furnishes fried poultry, craft beer & cocktails in rustic digs with a patio.
50 seat interior, 100 seat back patio: the numbers tell you flat out that the HBFC folks want you to soak up the sun and sop up the gravy al fresco. like the namesake chicken recipe, the interior is simple done delightfully well. Reclaimed barn wood, custom pine furniture, and craftsman-made hexed benches for the outdoor space. Patrons are encouraged to decorate the mondo magnet wall outside. If you’re self-conscious about your artistic acumen, give it a second — and a second coriander sangrita. You’ll be at it in no time.
Did someone say “French toast topped with fried chicken and bourbon-maple syrup”? No? Okay, well: french toast topped with fried chicken and bourbon maple syrup. As for the mid-afternoon or dinner move, the choice is obvious. How the signature recipe came to be? Less so. Word has it the crew behind Sunday Dinner Club happened upon a keeper of a recipe when, at a supper six years ago, a tray of honey-buttered corn cakes happened to spill over on a plate of fried chicken. Our gain. Unfortunately, probably literally. But shh. A chicken platter will net you two pieces of white and/or dark meat, corn muffins, and three sides. Go with our runaway favorite: the Kale and cabbage slaw with dried pomegranates and yogurt cumin dressing. We did just lather honey butter on fried chicken, after all…
Off-Site Bar | 2657 N Kedzie Ave
The Longman & Eagle’s adjacent micro-bar has a funky garage vibe, cinder-block walls & shared patio.
Adjoined to the back patio of Longman & Eagle (perenially regarded as one of the US’s top whiskey bars, we should mention) is the Off Site Bar, a 16-seat room with all the vintage motorcycle garage decor of the Motorcycle Diaries set & none of the Che Guevara revolutionary subtexts (phew!). When the weather’s cooperating, they’ll fling open the retractable garage doors and let foot traffic flow fluidly between the interior booths and outdoor patio. Not that traffic is flowing much at all when they pack the house for the Sunday donut pop-up shop.
L& E’s Cheap Thrills & Old Mils party extends to the OSB on Monday evenings, and with that, their weekly Monday Snack Attack menu items become fair play (think less corn nuts, more pork belly tacos with cotija cheese). If you’ll recall, the Off Site Bar is the same venue hosting the Saturday sausage stand and Sunday donut pop-up we featured over on our foodie finds. Having given the edibles enough words, we’ll focus our attention on the 140+ whiskies. Our fav flight? The namesake L&E Flight (three single barrel selections: Berheim Wheat Whiskey, Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve 9yr, and a Willett 21yr). If the garage vibe already put enough hair on your chest, opt for something a bit lighter. Go green with the “Regarde La Terre”: Niesson 105, Niesson Agricole, Lime, Sugar Cane Syrup, Fortified Parsley Juice.
Parson’s Chicken & Fish | 2952 W Armitage Ave
Low-key fried chicken & fish stop with hip tunes dishes up cocktails, salads, sandwiches & sushi.
This is turning into a longman and eagle love-fest and we didn’t even intend it. oh well: well-executed restaurants deserve to be lauded, and evidently this management group has it figured out. There’s seating for 215, an iconic diner interior complete with a handmade-tile bar, and an oversized patio sporting 15 whitewashed picnic tables. What really steals the show? The patio bars made from hollowed-out shipping containers. A pre-fab architectural trend that has been all the rage in Williamsburg and Manhattan, it’s about time we brought the sexy corrugated metal look to the midwest. Rounding out the outdoor space is a novel bit of American nostalgia: a custom 1977 Chevrolet El Camino. Just don’t dare touch the interior with your greasy fingers.
The menu’s divvied into three sections: Fried (cod fritters, ham hock, and cream cheese hush puppies), Fresh (smoked trout salad, chilled Spring onion soup) and Raw (oysters with a citrus mignonette). Call us a bad influence, but we’re going with the signature fried chicken seasoned with garlic, morita chiles, cayenne, and smoked paprika, diabolically dressed with a little coleslaw and Texas toast. As for the dessert you’re gonna pretend is for the kids: funnel cake covered in honey, powdered sugar, brown butter, and green peppercorn brittle. Bingo. For a backyard brew, Parson’s has Hofbrau and Brickstone on tap alongside a slate of 20 local and import brews, including large format options from Pipeworks. Feeling a bit more festive? We’ve got 200 words dedicated to the Negroni slushie. Yes, of course the carafe. Which part of the 10-piece chicken-funnel cake ensemble left the impression we were practicing restraint here?
Table, Donkey, & Stick | 2728 W Armitage Ave
Upscale comfort fare & drinks from Europe’s Alpine regions served in a rustic, minimalist setting.
Vintage axes, saws, and copper pots dot the brick walls of the former Bonsoiree space. Table, Donkey and Stick is all about the Alps with independent wines and Bavarian beers, a menu so very evidently inspired by the mountainous regions of France & Germany — even the cozy layout & back porch fire pit imitate the rustic lodges housing Alps hikers. The alps inn motif is fitting, after all, for a restaurant named for a Brothers Grimm tale.
The old-timey nostalgia doesn’t stop at the fairytale-inspired ambience; fortunately, it extends to the price of a brew. On $5 Mondays, you score with 50 cent PBRs and Taleggio funnel cakes. And earning a dual-nomination for our favorite entree & the most creative repurposing of gingersnaps is the veal sauerbraten: served over braised red cabbage, bubespitzle (a southern German pasta), and — yes, actually — crushed gingersnaps. So long as we’re staying on-theme, we advise a brandy flight for the cocktails, for a little fire in the belly to match that in the patio fireplace.
Orbit Room | 2959 N California Ave
Dark, cavernous watering hole with a tiki patio offering old-school cocktails & clever takes on familiar bar food.
A neighborhood dive with a retro interior and a Tiki-style patio. The interior hums with low red lights, faint garage music, and a welcoming and unpretentious crowd. The decor is fun – retro, but not kitsch (wish we could say the same for our second bathroom). We were admittedly incredulous of the self-proclaimed best tiki patio in Chicago (an already suspiciously qualified superlative), but this place earns its village keep and then some.
Boy is it refreshing when the ‘daily specials’ are, indeed, special — not just a clearinghouse for what’s piling up in the kitchen. The Wednesday mac and cheese took us by storm — and surprise — the menu certainly didn’t mention the Sriracha: a welcome, albeit fiery addition to the advertised topping of farmer’s market formaggio. Dive bars are the last gentrification-free holdout we’ve got in this city, so let’s extend the pretense-free zone to the beverage domain. Our pick: Chicago’s own Metropolitan Krankshaft. How’s that for a gratifying $6 food & drink tab. To think our five dollar foot-long made us feel frugal just yesterday.