When we say “outdoor seating,” we don’t just mean some folding chairs and two wobbly tables. These coffee shops have the kind of outdoor space that’s large enough to catch up with a friend, and/or comfortable enough to spend time finishing that suddenly timely post-apocalyptic screenplay you’ve been writing. Here are 9 great places where you can do this.
We’re big fans of Hexe, a large, industrial-feeling coffee shop located in a section of Roscoe Village near a Costco instead of used record shops and brunch places. There’s nothing this place doesn’t do well - along with great coffee and a fantastic patio with plenty of space, Hexe also has outstanding pastries, friendly staff, and serves alcohol.
If you’ve ever spent time in a coffee shop on a college campus, Cafe 53 in Hyde Park will seem very familiar - we get the feeling that everyone who comes here frequently ruins family get-togethers by incessantly quoting Nietzsche. Happily for no one (except August and Baker and maybe their Philosophy 101 professor), the debate over the existence of God can be had outside on their patio, too.
The main reason to go to Butterdough in McKinley Park is for their fantastic pastries. Seriously, the baked goods here are life-changing. That said, their coffee is good too, and nothing goes better with flaky croissants and buttery homemade biscuits than an Americano on their nice sidewalk patio.
There are multiple outposts of this Black-owned coffee shop, but the location in Bronzeville is the only one with a patio. You can get things like lattes and cappuccinos, but you’ll also find a long list of delicious specialty drinks - like their banana mocha (with espresso, steamed milk, banana syrup, and chocolate) or the iced Dreamsicle made with white mocha, orange, and whipped cream.
This Andersonville cafe has always had a little sidewalk patio, but it’s even nicer on the weekend thanks to the city’s “Make Way” program that’s allowed for expanded outdoor dining. You can get pretty much any traditional coffee drink at Kopi, along with teas and cocktails. They also have a long mostly-vegetarian food menu that includes one of our favorite sandwiches that’s just sharp cheddar, sliced apples, and mustard on thick-cut bread. We mean it, it’s delicious.
Not only does Heritage serve excellent coffee, but they’ll also fix your bicycle or custom-make you a new one. Even if you don’t need their bike services, you can still come here and drink a latte outside. All their locations have outdoor seating, but our favorite patio is the one in Lakeview, which feels like you’re hanging out in the backyard of a rich friend’s house.
So the Dollop we’re talking about here isn’t one of the Chicago locations. This one is just over the border in Evanston. But we’re including it anyways for two reasons. One, the patio is huge with lots of space for social distancing. And two, it’s also attached to the second location of Hoosier Mama (the original is in Ukrainian Village), which makes some of our favorite pies in the city.
The Bucktown location of Fairgrounds has a cute sidewalk patio, and a fun coffee menu filled with lots of espresso and matcha drinks. Even better, they have a long food menu where you’ll find egg dishes, sandwiches, and fair-themed treats like corn dogs and funnel cake fries. And trust us, if you order the funnel cake fries you’ll want to sit out on the patio for a while before you’re ready to move.
Is this technically a coffee shop? No, it’s more of an all-day restaurant. Is it outside? No, it’s more of a tree-filled biodome large enough to have its own ecosystem. In other words, it’s so spacious it feels like it is outside, and it’s a great temperature-controlled place to meet a friend for coffee. Which, by the way, will be way better than what you can make with the Keurig your parents gave you after you finally got your own place.