Chicago's Best Beer Gardens: Lincoln Park Edition

07/24/2011 11:41 am ET | Updated Sep 20, 2011
  • Ashley Henshaw

The one downside to these outdoor drinking oases is that many of them can only stay open until 11 pm due to local noise restrictions. Fortunately, each of these Lincoln Park locations boasts a great indoor area to match its outdoor assets.

Zella: Few beer gardens in the city rival Zella in size and scope. The spacious outdoor area has a nice ratio of tables to open standing space, which comes in handy as this place tends to fill to the brim on warm summer nights. Trees grow both around and within the beer garden space, providing plenty of shade and a cozy atmosphere. Plus, it even has an outdoor bar to expedite your drink requests.
1983 N. Clybourn Ave.; 773-549-2910

John Barleycorn: Though it’s popular with the college-age crowd around DePaul, drink lovers of all ages should make a visit to John Barleycorn just to check out its astounding beer garden. This massive space has a retractable canopy for rain and sun cover, and the huge wall opposite the bar’s exterior provides the perfect backdrop for the projector TV, which is usually tuned into baseball or college football.
658 W. Belden Ave.; 773-929-6512

Mickey’s Bar and Patio: For year-round beer garden drinking in Lincoln Park, head to Mickey’s Bar and Patio. Its large outdoor space is shaded in the summer and enclosed and heated in the winter to keep guests happy in any weather. This beer garden is popular during big sporting events since it boasts several large flat-screen TVs. Since the whole patio is slightly elevated, it also affords prime people-watching along Clark Street.
2450 N. Clark St.; 773-435-0007

Castaways Bar and Grill: It’s not technically a beer garden, but Castaways is such a unique spot that it deserves a nod when it comes to outdoor drinking. This boat-shaped structure features a rooftop patio that feels a little like drinking on the top deck as you look out over Lake Michigan and the beach. Whether you’re taking a break from sunbathing or sipping a cold brew after a sweaty beach volleyball match, Castaways is truly a unique drinking experience in Chicago.
1603 N. Lakeshore Dr.; 773-281-1200

Café Ba-Ba-Reeba: This tapas restaurant may seem like an unlikely place for a beer garden, but it has one of the most pleasant (and least college student-infested) patios in the neighborhood. Strands of small lights are strung overhead to provide a borderline romantic vibe. Sure, you can have a beer here, but the delicious sangria is definitely a tempting option on a warm evening. The crowds here tend to be friendly and enthusiastic without crossing into drunk and disorderly territory.
2024 N. Halsted St.; 773-935-5000