When summer in Chicago finally arrives, we’ve got to soak up every last second of that sun and warmth while we can. Dine al fresco at these rooftops to get incredible food and cocktails plus your dose of vitamin D.
Dine beside the 10,000 square-foot secret garden above Roots Pizza in West Town at this charming, truly farm-to-table restaurant by The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group. With more than 30 edible plants, plus native prairie plants for cover and moisture retention, this is a serious garden in collaboration with The Roof Crop urban farm. Executive chef Jesse Badger recently went to Sardinia and is incorporating heirloom Sardinian ingredients into his dishes this summer. Try the artichoke and pecorino fritters using Sardinian spiny artichokes pickled like giardiniera and organic pecorino-sardo farmstead sheep and goat’s cheese. There’s also a mushroom fregola made with organic, handmade fregola sardo imported exclusively for Homestead on the Roof, which Badger cooks like a risotto, then garnishes with various mushrooms and puffed organic wheatberries.
Park Hyatt Chicago‘s executive chef Eric Damidot pulls inspiration from his home in the South of France for the NoMI Garden menu this summer. Modern, light fare includes shaved Brussels sprouts salad with crispy quinoa, smoked salmon beignets, vegetable ratatouille, and olive oil roasted asparagus with prosciutto. All summer long, guests who order one of Damidot’s four “Plats Provencaux” — including onion pissaladiere flatbread, cucumber and heirloom tomato gazpacho, and petit farcis de provence (vegetables filled with ground beef) — will receive a complimentary carafe of rosé.
This Bucktown neighborhood restaurant celebrates its first anniversary in July and you can enjoy the full menu on the spacious rooftop for weekend brunch or dinner seven nights a week. This year, you don’t have to worry about rainy days either, thanks to the new fully retractable awning. At brunch, the decadent pastries, hearth-smoked salmon platter, and tarte flambée are winners and at dinner ember-roasted summer vegetables, roasted oysters, and wood-fired pizzas are great for sharing. Chef Danny Grant‘s predilection for wood-fired hearth cooking satisfies every summer craving.
The Peninsula‘s Chinese restaurant is located just off the lobby and the rooftop garden terrace may not offer city views, but it’s an intimate location for enjoying dim sum favorites like steamed shumai stuffed with abalone, shrimp, and pork. Begin with a chilled wood ear mushroom salad tossed in garlicky black vinegar before boosting your chi with a double-boiled herbal chicken soup with lily and wolf berries. Although the restaurant specializes in Cantonese and Shanghainese specialties, traditional Peking duck and spicy Szechuan mapo tofu are always on the menu too.
Just steps from Wrigley Field and part of the Gallagher Way entertainment district, this new restaurant is a partnership between James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Mantuano and legendary Cubs manager Joe Maddon. The Italian-meets-Polish menu includes a charcuterie plate with Polish ham, smoked kielbasa, Italian Finocchiona, and salame nostrano. Freshly baked pizza, pierogi, and a selection of paczki for dessert are just the kind of food you’ll crave during a baseball game on the second-floor rooftop. “We’re combining the idea of Polish and Italian food as a tribute to our respective roots,” Mantuano says. “The menu Joe and I worked on really embodies both of our family memories in the kitchen.”
Southside’s Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhood has its first rooftop this summer. Open Outcry Brewery’s rooftop patio seats 100 with tables for parties of four, large communal-style tables, and lounge seating. It’s a perfect spot for groups to enjoy crafted wood-fired pizzas and Open Outcry’s rotating beers on tap. Other bar food highlights include Southside poutine topped with beer battered cheese curds, various salads for lighter appetites, and the vegan Impossible burger on brioche.
Chicago’s favorite butcher, deli, restaurant, and bar mash-up is back with their famous boozy slushies and some of the best burgers in town, whether you’re in the mood for the prime butcher’s blend, a sriracha chicken burger, or Chop Shop’s mushroom and cauliflower veggie burger. Bone marrow-crusted filet mignon, an ever-changing seasonal farmers market salad, and prosciutto-wrapped burrata are a few more hits to try.
Stephanie Izard‘s Peruvian-inspired cevicheria is open for dinner nightly on the rooftop of the Hoxton Hotel, the hottest new hotel in the West Loop. Inspired by her travels throughout Peru in Lima, Arequipa, and Cusco, the menu features seasonal ceviches and tiraditos along with empanadas, anticucho skewers, and large plates including whole sweet and sour snapper and skin-on fatty pork shank with pickles. “One thing that really stuck with me from our trip to Peru was the combination of bright, light flavors like citrus paired with rich ingredients like cheese or mayo in unexpected ways; creating something truly tasty,” Izard says.
The first-come, first-served patio at this West Loop rooftop restaurant was the buzziest place in the neighborhood last summer. Enjoy a cocktail while mingling with colleagues at happy hour before sitting down for a Mediterranean dinner with tons of colorful veggie spreads, variations on hummus, kebabs, house-made stracciatella, and refreshing raw fish crudo. The food here is similar to sister restaurant Ema, with some repeat dishes, but a little more elevated. Come with a group, because everything is meant to be shared and you’ll want to order a lot.
Because You’re Not the Only One Who’s Hungry…
We hope you’ll get the chance to check out all of these incredible rooftop restaurants, but the next time you do, take a moment to remember how fortunate you are to be able to enjoy such fabulous food. Feed your stomach, then your soul by paying forward your good fortune and supporting one of these food-centric nonprofits.
Amber Gibson spends 340 nights a year in hotels searching for the latest and greatest in the travel industry. Her writing and photographs have appeared in print, online, and on the radio for outlets including Four Seasons Magazine, NPR, Saveur, Departures, Rhapsody, Hemispheres, American Way, Private Air, Wine Folly, Plate, Chicago Magazine, Tasting Table, and Serious Eats. She graduated as valedictorian from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and received a fellowship to attend the 2017 Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley. Champagne, dark chocolate, and gelato are her biggest weaknesses. She also admires and supports CAASE in Chicago. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.