If there is one relationship that’s flourished during quarantine, it’s the one with your dog. And now that we can all finally leave the house, you can’t imagine hanging out without them. Thankfully, most of Chicago’s reopened outdoor restaurants allow you to bring dogs - but some work better than others. Here are the best places where you’ll have lots of room to eat and drink with your real best friend.
The Moonlighter has an extensive menu of bar food like waffle fries, nachos, and burgers, and all of those things are perfectly fine. But the real reason to come here is for the huge outdoor space that has plenty of room for you, all your friends sitting six feet apart, and your dog. In fact, your dog will have enough space to fall in love, steal a cheeseburger, and have her heart broken, all without you even noticing.
PB & J
PB & J (which stands for pizza, beer, and jukebox) in the West Loop feels more like a bar than a restaurant, but the thin crust pizzas are really good. There’s a sidewalk patio full of picnic tables that are perfect for your dog to lay under, and they even have a “puppy menu” with things like the “pup-which” (Wonder Bread and peanut butter), house dog biscuits, and chicken jerky. And every Wednesday from 5pm to 7pm the puppy menu is half off.
This Italian restaurant in River North is another spot with a special dog menu. So while you eat chicken parmesan or pappardelle with beef ragu, your dog can have meatballs made with tomato sauce and bacon rice. They even have a puppy dessert made with peanut butter, kibble, and whipped cream.
Recess in the West Loop is a theme bar, and the theme is basically “City Hall,” which means menus are made to look like municipal forms and cocktails have names like the “Alderman’s Choice.” The outdoor space is huge (14,500 square feet), which means that there’s plenty of space for you, your friends, and the matching pair of Irish Wolfhounds you adopted during the pandemic. Hopefully you trained one of them to drive you home.
If you just want to sit with your dog outside, drink some cocktails, and eat delicious pizza, go to Pizzeria Lobo in Logan Square. They serve Neapolitan pies, and you’ll find excellent red sauce options like the “amatrice yo-self” (roasted tomato, pancetta, and Calabrian chile), and white pies like the castello bianco with meatballs, ramps, and parm. Plus, their large patio is partially covered so you won’t have to worry about your dog’s sexy blowout getting rained on.
This Logan Square bar has one of our favorite outdoor spaces in town, and they also have a large fenced-in back patio full of colorful picnic tables and bright green turf. It’s a relaxed drinking spot, where you can meet some friends and bring your dog to hang out with you for a few hours on fake grass. Plus, now they make great Sicilian-style pizza.
The Wicker Park location of Big Star has a perfect patio for people - it’s large and you can sit out there for hours eating tacos and drinking margaritas. But this place is ideal for dogs too, which is why you’re bound to see a lot of them here. Just be aware that if your pup is skittish, the nearby train tracks might trigger some Cruella de Vil flashbacks.
This pizza spot in Wicker Park has a covered outdoor area that’s decorated like a retro trailer park (yes, really - with pink flamingos and swingsets). This means you can enjoy the crowd-pleasing pizzas and cocktails with your dog by your side, and it doesn’t even need to be nice out.
Some places need the addition of good company to be enjoyable. Mott St. doesn’t - it’s a great spot with fantastic food all on its own. But you’ll probably like it even better when you eat on the large fenced-in patio with your dog. It’s quiet and serene, so it’s an ideal place for shy dogs who don’t really like noise and loud traffic. Plus, the food is delicious - try the kimchi empanadas or the catfish claypot.
Saint Lou’s backyard is perfect for a number of situations. In addition to a covered area with picnic benches, you’ll find round tables on mulch, some stadium seating benches, bocce ball, and an outdoor bar so you never have to go inside. All this combined with a new menu for summer 2021 (with dishes like schmaltzy biscuits, po’ boys, and tahini soft serve) means it needs to be on your (and your dog’s) summer rotation.
While it’s fun to sit at lunch or dinner with your Shih-Poobradoodle beside you, the guilt starts to mount as Captain Olivia watches you shovel food into your face. That won’t happen at Siena Tavern, which has a separate patio menu just for dogs. So she can have chicken breast cooked in olive oil, while you have a wagyu meatball, lobster in squid ink pasta, and a big piece of cheesecake. It’s not quite even, but she’ll still be pretty excited.
Bar Siena is the more casual, bar-like West Loop version of Siena Tavern. This means they have a similar food menu meant for dogs to eat on the outdoor patio. So come here for delicious pizza and pasta, while your dog has a hamburger patty.
Bandit is a smallish spot in the West Loop that feels like a party, but is still low-key enough for you to bring your dog and not worry they’ll get whisked away to Ibiza. Come here for day drinks and bar snacks like disco fries during the week, or come on the weekends for bottomless brunch. For $30 you can get unlimited mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, along with dishes like eggs, pancakes, and chilaquiles. But one of the best things about this place? They also have a puppy menu with steak, salmon, a burger, and dairy free ice cream.
There are two locations of Antique Taco - one in Wicker Park and one in Bridgeport. Both have dog-friendly patios and a menu full of tasty tacos on handmade tortillas, but the Bridgeport location’s outdoor space is much larger. So if the untrained puppy you adopted during quarantine still runs around like an unchecked id with sharp little teeth, this is where you want to be.
Park + Field in Logan Square is less of an outdoor patio and more of an outdoor empire. The space is gigantic with tables, Adirondack chairs, multiple firepits (where you can make s’mores), and a camper-turned-bar. If you want an outdoor place to hang with your dog for hours, this spot has you covered.
Formento’s is a big West Loop Italian restaurant with very good housemade pasta. It has a quiet atmosphere, and it’s on a stretch of Randolph that doesn’t have the same heavy car and foot traffic as the busier parts of the neighborhood. So if you and another single friend decide to arrange a “wedding” for your respective dogs, come here to plan it over rigatoni and a glass of wine.