April is weird. Between the whole ‘in like a lion, out like a lamb’ thing the month before and the old adage ‘April showers brings May flowers’, after… the weather can get confusing – especially here in Chicago. One minute you’re wearing a spring dress and wishing you hadn’t worn a scarf and the next, it’s snowing. Again.
It’s also around the time when the first 55-degree, no-wind sunny day will reveal the die-hard Midwesterners in shorts, because it’s basically summer! To add insult to injury, the volatile weather means most restaurants won’t be willing to lug the outdoor furniture out of storage, and waiting patiently for patio season can seem like purgatory. But don’t worry – we’ve got you! We pulled together a list of the best indoor/outdoor spots in Gold Coast to help get you through that weird limbo land and prepare for the sweet Summertime Chi ahead.
I|O at the Godfrey – 1501 N Kingsbury St.
Seeing as I|O most likely means “indoor | outdoor”, it’s safe to say these guys know a thing or two when it comes to all-season social hotspots. One of the first locales with a retractable roof, the Godfrey could be considered a trendsetter in finally figuring out how to take advantage of the crazy weather swings we see here in the Midwest. I|O has a great food menu as well as a hoppin’ nightlife scene – so whether you want a midday meal or a night out, this should definitely be one of your go-tos!
Bar Cargo – 605 N Wells St.
Bar Cargo is a really cool pizza joint that has a great atmosphere inside AND an epic covered patio when the weather permits. Owner Anthony Stefani fell in love with Roman-style pizza on a family vacation and has since brought a complex (and delicious) 96-hour dough rise process to the Windy City – along with a “Castelli Forni” stone oven from Italy, in which they bake their pies. Even if it’s not nice enough to sit outside, the fast-paced and boisterous atmosphere makes it a great place for a bite to eat!
The J.Parker – 1816 N Clark St.
The J.Parker is the rooftop bar in Hotel Lincoln – and we all know what happened to President Lincoln. But who was J Parker? Fun fact: Officer John Parker was designated as President Lincoln’s guard the night he was assassinated… and decided to leave his post at intermission.
Don’t worry – this J.Parker’s got your back – because rain or shine, summer or winter, you can expect to enjoy some of the best views of Chicago while sipping a drink or two at this rooftop bar with a retractable roof. Just be sure to get there early, because seating is first come, first served!
Utopian Tailgate – 1608 N Wells St.
Why relegate tailgate season to a few months of the year when it could last all year long and take place across 10,000 square feet above Second City?! Welcome to Utopian Tailgate, where you can eat, drink, be merry and play life-size Jenga to your heart’s content. In addition to the indoor space with neon colors, nostalgic drinks and upscale tailgate fare, there is also a huge outdoor area with heating lamps – so you can still catch those skyline views even if the temps aren’t cooperating.
Joy District – 112 W. Hubbard St.
A quick walk from the Gold Coast area, Joy District is another indoor-outdoor gem to enjoy the electric energy of the city even if it’s not summer quite yet. Mosey from the indoor area, full of bright colors, pop art and nooks and crannies perfect for catching up with friends, to the outdoor area, which allows you to take advantage of the beautiful skyline views with a cocktail in hand. In the cooler months, you can also rent a gigantic igloo to keep warm when you need a little something more than a heat lamp. Joy District also features a rotating list of DJs Thursday through Sunday.
Post written by FFC Contributor Megan Zink.