The tried and true
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1664 N Ada St, Chicago, IL 60642, USA
330 E Ogden Ave, Westmont, IL 60559, USA
151 W Erie St, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
508 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
25 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
113 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
159 E Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60601, USA
10 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
2118 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
Athena: This open courtyard at this Greektown mainstay was renovated recently, adding a retractable roof over the 150-seat space, so that sudden sprinkles don't cause chaos. Pretty, east-facing downtown views and solid Greek food make this place one for your short list. 212 S. Halsted St., 312-655-0000.
Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse — Oak Brook: The brilliant design of this steakhouse's 200-seat outdoor patio includes tall landscaping that blocks the unattractive view of Oakbrook Center; an elaborate flagstone waterfall that mutes traffic noise; and retractable shade that can battle sudden sprinkles or blazing-hot sun. In one corner, a shaded bar has flat-screen TVs for sports fans; on the opposite end are pretty gas-fire tables. The space is beautiful. 2105 Spring Road, Oak Brook, 630-954-0000.
Maya Del Sol: This cheerful Mexican restaurant treats its outdoor-dining customers right. The restaurant will supply sunglasses if it's very sunny, blankets if it's cold — or you can sit by the open fire pit or huddle under the many propane heaters. The margaritas are well made, the ceviche lively, and the rest of the menu is short on surprises but long on value. 144 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, 708-358-9800.
Piccolo Sogno: This Italian restaurant sits on a corner of a very busy six-way intersection (Halsted Street and Grand and Milwaukee avenues), but you'd never know it once you're ensconced in the backyard patio, shielded by tall fencing and surrounded by uplit landscaping. One of the prettiest urban oases around. 464 N. Halsted St., 312-421-0077.
Sola: My favorite sidewalk cafe in the city sits on a tree-lined stretch of Byron Street, steps away from Lincoln Avenue yet preternaturally calm. Although frankly, it's Carol Wallack's food that I'm most fond of. 3868 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-327-3868.
The Southern: Sitting in the fenced-in patio next to this open-air (weather permitting) restaurant, digging into fried green tomatoes, hush puppies and crawfish, it's easy to imagine you're in New Orleans, or some spiritual kin thereof. And later in the evening, when the upstairs cabanas fill up and the music cranks up, it's like Bourbon Street, without the bad behavior. 1840 W. North Ave., 77-342-1840.
The hurry-up soon
Estate Ultra Bar: By day and weekday evening, this riverside newcomer is a small-plates restaurant with reasonably imaginative food and plenty of drink options. Weekend nights, Estate goes into full nightclub mode, with bottle-service tables and, presumably, long lines at peak times. Right now, Estate has a few outdoor tables under an overhang, offering river and downtown views, but two new areas, built onto the building's roof, will open soon: The Gazebo, a split-level space with weather-protection ability, and the Sky Deck, a Vegas-inspired environment with palm trees, cabanas, TVs, misters — the whole outdoor-nightclub bit. It'll probably be a couple of more weeks. 1177 N. Elston Ave., 312-582-4777.
J. Parker: The newly opened Hotel Lincoln will unveil its rooftop lounge, which will have fireplaces and grass plantings but mostly will offer unobstructed, 12th-floor views of Lincoln Park, Lake Michigan and the downtown skyline. Operated in partnership with Perennial Virant, the restaurant located on the first floor, the lounge will offer a menu (by Paul Virant) that will have one column of proteins and vegetables, another of accompaniments, and customers will be encouraged to make custom pairings. The drinks menu will follow an ever-changing "vacation-destination" theme (first up: Spain, Mexico, Cuba) with classic and original cocktails, as well as tableside-preparation punch, served in vintage bowls, that will serve six to eight. Partial reservations accepted; target opening date is July 10. 1816 N. Clark St., 312-254-4700.
Wet Deck: Just between you and me, this 50-seat, seventh-floor space in the W Chicago Lakeshore hotel is already open; it's waiting on some furniture to arrive before announcing the official opening in a week or so. Open Thursday and Friday evenings and day and evening Saturday and Sunday, Wet Deck will offer summertime nibbles and a full bar. Downstairs, Wave restaurant's lakefront patio (open daily) has already opened, serving the full Wave menu and offering discounted food and drink specials from 4-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. 644 N. Lake Shore Drive, 312-255-4460.