Punxsutawney Phil may have seen his shadow this year, but that shouldn't stop you from daydreaming about where you'd like to dine al fresco as soon as Chicago thaws and the patio furniture gets pulled out of storage. From rooftop gardens to hidden, sun-dappled oases, here are six bars and restaurants with outdoor gardens worth exploring this spring.
This Italian hideaway is no stranger to "best patio" lists, and for good reason: its lush garden patio might just be the prettiest (and greenest!) spot to enjoy a meal in Chicago. During the warmer months, the expansive dining area is littered with lush trees and plants that provide just enough shade to enjoy rustic pasta dishes and antipasti galore over wine without the sun beating down on you. 464 N. Halsted St., 312-421-0077
Back in 2008, the 2,500-square-foot rooftop farm at this sustainability-driven resto earned bragging rights as the first certified organic rooftop farm in the United States. Today, it's still in full operation, and boasts planter boxes and earth boxes brimming with everything from sweet and hot peppers to okra, chives, tarragon, and sage, as well as beehives that provide both pollination for the garden and honey for the menu. Head to the patio to enjoy dishes packed with the farm's bounty. 1401 W. Devon Ave., 773-465-9801
Nestled in the heart of Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood, the quaint, brick-paved patio of chef Art Smith's restaurant is the perfect place to linger over dishes brimming with the season's bounty. The outdoor space flourishes with trees and potted plants, and even comes equipped with heaters for those chilly spring nights. 52 W. Elm St., 312-573-4000
Foodie terms like "farm to table" and "garden to glass" take on new meaning at this cozy rooftop concept above Roots Handmade Pizza, as it boasts a 3,000-square-foot organic garden (also on the roof), as well as vertical hanging gardens and myriad planters filled with vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Hyper-local is the name of the game, and while the menu changes based on the seasonality of ingredients, you can enjoy meals here year-round, thanks to a 65-seat enclosed portion of the restaurant. 1924 W. Chicago Ave., 773-332-2354
This Bridgeport gem is worth whatever effort might be required to get there, especially when the experience in waiting involves rotisserie duck devoured out in the gastro tavern's clandestine backyard. Vegetable and herb gardens grow around the yard's edge, and events like pig roasts and pizza parties are held here regularly when the weather is nice. 2701 S. Eleanor St., 312-724-8811
This charming dive bar has over half a century of business under its belt, due largely in part to its all-seasons beer garden prime for imbibing inexpensive beer with your pals. Seating is first come, first serve, and string lights and ample greenery make the space feel more like a neighborhood-y oasis than an urban watering hole. 1059 N. Wolcott Ave., 773-486-1512