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Food & Drink

5 Cozy Outdoor Dining Alternatives To Chicago’s Infinite Igloos

By Elliot McGowan

5 Cozy Outdoor Dining Alternatives To Chicago’s Infinite Igloos

There’s more to Chicago than the iconic igloos!

When Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced on October 27 that the City of Chicago was to become subject to further COVID-19 resurgence mitigation measures that included a ban on indoor dining, the hospitality industry knew they’d have to adapt and make use of any outdoor spaces available to them. With the Chicago winter approaching bars, cafes, and restaurants quickly sort to winterize patios, rooftops, and terraces as innovatively and effectively as they could.

Fast forward a couple of months and winter has arrived at our doorstep and infinite igloos dot Chicago. There’s no denying the magic they bring and when they first came out people eagerly flocked for photos in the cute little snowglobes. Now there seem to be hordes of igloos, not just in Chicago, but in cities all over the world. Though we’re not denying their beauty and charm, we’ve here selected a few places that chose to winterize their outdoor spaces a little differently. Here are some alternative outdoor options in case you want to try something new or simply need a new backdrop for those festive Instagram snaps!

1. Las Fuentes’s Private Patio Oasis

For those of you familiar with Las Fuentes Restaurant in Lincoln Park, you’ll know that as well as a terrific place to get your taco and margarita fix, the Mexican restaurant is also home to an enchanting outdoor patio with colorful murals and plenty of greenery. Now the magical outdoor space has been transformed into a private patio oasis to accommodate for the Chicago winter rules. A warm and cozy tent now covers the patio with spacious seating situated around the gorgeous fountain creating the atmosphere of a tropical paradise in the heart of Lincoln Park.

Location: 2558 N Halsted Street, Chicago

2. The Darling’s Rose Garden

The Darling introduced its adorable greenhouses to Chicago back in July. Located in the West Loop, the restaurant took advantage of the closing of Randolph Street and set up its beautiful outdoor dining area, The Rose Garden. While igloos and snowglobes offer winter wonderlands all around Chicago, this unique spot was adorned with private little greenhouses that make socially-distanced dining all the more charming! 10 greenhouses for tables of two or four offer a cozy spot for some English garden-inspired snacks and drinks. The greenhouses are sanitized after each seating and guests can take a look at the menu online, making the process entirely safe and contactless.

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Location: 905 West Randolph Street, Chicago

3. Recess’s Fire Tables

After opening last year Recess in Fulton Market has been an iconic Chicago watering hole. Home to a 14,500 -square-foot patio nestled within a ring of over 30 shipping containers, it’s a spot you won’t forget. The cozy den is filled with bars, food stands, and bonfire tables so you can keep toasty warm while drinking a Peanut Butter Cup spiked hot chocolate and eating on s’mores, both of which come included in a tick to Recess’s Christmas event, Blitzen’s Holiday Pop Up.

Where: 838 W Kinzie Street, Chicago

4. Whiskey Business’s Gingerbread Houses

Wicker Park’s notorious hideout, Whiskey Business, is home to a 3,000-square-foot rooftop patio where you can bet your bottom dollar there is some fun taking place. The heated hideaway offers frequent movie nights, a free curling lane, and weekend brunches. Instead of igloos, Whiskey Business went down a different road with its cozy heated gingerbread houses. The cute rooftop cabanas have been converted for the holidays and now come equipped with fake fireplaces, candy canes, and Christmas decorations so you can sink a few seasonal cocktails surrounded by friends and take some memorable photos in the process.

Location: 1367 N Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago

5. Joy District’s Ski Lodge

River North’s Joy District is another renowned venue and something of a pioneer when it comes to winter outdoor dining. Last year they were one step ahead of the game when they filled their rooftop patio with cozy winter snow globes before COVID-19 was even a thing. This year the heated igloos have returned to the River North rooftop but they’ve also revamped an awesome outdoor space into a snug Winter Ski Lodge.

Location: 112 West Hubbard Street, Chicago

See more: 10 Holiday Pop-Ups In Chicago Where You Can Still Get Your Fill Of Festive Fun