May is FINALLY here!  Is anyone else just as excited as I am for warm weather???  Chicago winters can be a tad harsh, but the summer definitely makes up for any -30 degree weather.  So, in honor of the approaching warm weather, I thought it would be fun to do a little alfresco guide.  Each segment, I’ll pick a different neighborhood, and this week it’s River North.

River North

  • Rock Bottom:  2nd floor outdoor beer garden in the middle of River North.  Although it is a chain restaurant/bar, this place is great for grabbing drinks on a weekday after work/school.  The beers are all brewed in house and it serves a classic pub menu.
  • Siena Tavern:  One of my go-to restaurants in River North.  This Italian eatery has a vibrant bar scene and boasts a huge outdoor seating area in the warmer months.  One of the owners is a former Top Chef alum, so you know the food has to be good.  Everything on the menu is fantastic, especially the gnocchi.  However, word of advice: try the coccoli.  I order it every time I go here (and I go here a lot.)
  • Celeste:  Part restaurant, part cocktail lounge, this place is one of the classiest 5am bars in the city.  The rooftop, also known as the Garden, can be described as an “urban oasis” away from the hustle and bustle of the river north neighborhood.  From the craft cocktails to the Victorian-style couches, the Garden is the perfect place for outdoor mingling with a close group of friends.
  • Cerise Rooftop:  Technically, this place is in the loop (and JUST opened on April 29th), but it’s right across the river so I decided to include it.  Not only is it brand new, but it’s located in the new Virgin Hotel too.  The outside terrace decor is bright and colorful and exactly what you would picture from the new Virgin Hotel.  It is definitely a see-and-be-seen place with drink prices to match, but great for special occasions (or when Mom and Dad come to visit.)

I would like to note that this is not a complete list, and there are a ton of other GREAT outdoor places in River North.  It’s hard to narrow it down to a handful, but when the warm weather decides to stick around, these places are some of my favorites.

Until next time – Emily