Raise your hand if you love a great patio on which to enjoy your meal. Across Illinois, more and more restaurants with patio spaces are popping up just in time for the warmer weather — with incredible food to boot. Patio season is officially here, and these restaurants offer some delicious dishes among beautiful backdrops that you do not want to miss:
The Loading Dock Bar and Grill
Cool and casual is the name of the game at The Loading Dock. This fun beach pub serves everything from shrimp rolls to chicken strips to catfish fritters and fries — and of course, beer, wine, and cocktails! Check out the gorgeous river views from their massive outdoor dining space and enjoy live music, monthly flea markets, and special events throughout the summer. Don’t want to go home just yet? The Loading Dock also offers overnight accommodations.
Top Chef CJ Jacobson’s brainchild of Aba offers a rooftop patio decked out in comfy couches, gorgeous foliage and stunning views of the Chicago skyline. This Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurant specializes in exquisite shared plates like hummus and spreads, hot and cold mezze, kebabs, prime cuts, seafood, and more. Make sure to try the housemade stracciatella and don’t miss out on the dessert — the creme brulee pie is incredible!
Pizza on a patio? Yes, please! For nearly 60 years, Italian Village has been a staple in Southern Illinois. A quaint Italian restaurant on the inside and a patio with separate dining areas on the outside, you’ll love the traditional decor and energetic vibe of Italian Village. Build your own pizza with your favorite toppings, or go all in with their signature Confusion Pizza—- the meatiest, cheesiest, veggie-est thing on the menu.
This adorable wine bar and restaurant is nestled in the heart of downtown Geneva and features a back patio that will transport you back to wine country. Tapas and global wines make for a fantastic afternoon of noshing and conversing, and the pretty outdoor space at Preservation adds to the overall experience. Try one of their delicious flatbreads and cheese boards and enjoy live music over a glass of wine.
Fresco at the Gardens
With the word ‘gardens’ in the name, you know you’re in for a beautiful experience, right? Located at the stunning Anderson Japanese Gardens, Fresco boasts fresh farm to table cuisine from local suppliers including Living Waters, Chai Town Tea, Belgioioso Cheeses, and many more. Sit on 12 acres of beautiful landscape and enjoy breakfast or lunch creations like Nutella Crepes, Fresco Steak Salad, or the Lobster Roll and one of their signature cocktails like the Blackberry Mimosa.
From brunch to dinner, The Dawson is a modern yet rustic dining adventure with a gorgeous patio you’ll love. Shared plates like the Macha Duck Wings only begin the delicious dining at The Dawson; try entrees like the Butcher Pork Chop or the Mushroom Pappardelle under the string lights of the patio. Frozen beverages like the Camp Crystal Lake and seasonal cocktails like the Doggie Paddle complete the refreshing outdoor experience. Oh, and did we mention the patio is covered in living walls? Let’s just say you’re in for a great Instagram pic.
Joe’s Station House Pizza Pub
Looking for the perfect spot to catch the game while enjoying the summer weather? Head to Joe’s Station House Pizza Pub in Bloomington-Normal, where you can bask under the sun and in front of a TV to watch your favorite team. The broad menu has something for everyone, like Italian Beef, chicken wings, and pizza for days — spicy Italian, BLT, barbecue chicken, and the appropriately named Redbird are only a handful of pies you should try! Craving a beer on the patio? Not to worry — Joe’s has 30 on tap.
Finley’s Tap House
From shareables to entrees, Finley’s Tap House boasts a vast menu and a cozy outdoor space that you can’t miss. Beer lovers will enjoy the 20 craft brews on tap, while foodies will enjoy the variety of dishes like the Louisiana Cajun Shrimp pasta, Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad, or the Steak House Classic. The cool patio space contains a fire pit that makes for the perfect ambience on a chilly night.