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The Great Outdoors

The temperature is rising and the sun is beaming a little more brightly, which invariably brings the city outdoors after months of being cooped up inside. Arguably the most anticipated phenomenon of spring’s arrival is when restaurants open their doors, push the tables and chairs outside and present the option of dining outside, or, as the Italians say, al fresco. Whether sidewalk cafes, patios, rooftops or riverfront terraces, here are some of our favorite spots to dine for the ultimate al fresco experience.

The patio of Howells & Hood

1. Howells & Hood is poised to launch a new late-night menu at its new patio space off Michigan Avenue’s Pioneer Court. Whether looking for a light post-movie snack or craving a hearty meal after a night out, this spot has you covered. Served from 10pm daily until one hour before the last call, the menu is a welcome departure from the normal fried late-night fare, including charred Canary Island baby octopus, smoked Berkshire pork, fish and chips, Cedar Springs lamb meatballs and more. 435 N. Michigan Ave., 312.262.5310,

2. Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House brings a more relaxing and exclusive atmosphere on its patio overlooking Oak Street and its famed boutique designer shops like Tory Burch, Kate Spade and Jimmy Choo. Stationed next to the vintage Esquire Theater sign, the patio, which seats up to 30 people, offers a full menu of popular spring and summer dishes from shrimp remoulade to a prime Del Frisco’s burger and salmon filet. Between the view and the fabulous spread, this space will be a summertime must. 58 E. Oak St., 312.888.2499,

3. Begin the summer season in style with a party on Barcito’s River North patio. On Thursday, May 16 at 5pm, the corner of Erie and LaSalle streets will be buzzing with complimentary tapas from Executive Chef Ryan Poli (available for the first hour of the event) and specials on sangria pitchers and other bar provisions from Barcito’s innovative beverage selection. To carry the party well through the night, DJ Kareem will be spinning his beats and is sure to live up to his “Party Amplifier” title. Sounds like a fabulous fiesta to us. 151 W. Erie St., 312.274.1111,

4. In case the bright yellow awnings don’t catch your attention, perhaps the traditional Tuscan fare and the broad selection of Italian wines by the glass will do the trick. Coco Pazzo Café has opened its sidewalk patio, located just one street off the Magnificent Mile. The café offers dishes including Caprese salads, a variety of paninis, the popular rigatoni buttera and classic lasagna with a creamy béchamel sauce. Si, si, si! 636 N. St. Clair St., 312.664.2777,

5. The Terrace at the Trump is one of the highest forms of sophistication with its iconic views of the Wrigley Building, Lake Michigan, the Chicago River and the unsurpassed city skyscrapers. Offering unique, customized seasonal menus coupled with a variety of boutique wines and handcrafted cocktails, the rooftop restaurant and bar is a signature outdoor oasis. Be sure to revel in the fireworks display every Wednesday and Saturday after Memorial Day to cap off a night out on the town. 401 N. Wabash Ave., 312.588.8600,