Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. 150 years of entertaining its visitors with hundreds of different animal species, along with beautiful views of Lincoln Park and the city skyline. Another must while at the zoo is stopping for a bite to eat at The Patio at Café Brauer. The Patio is located just south of the main zoo grounds at Café Brauer (2021 North Stockton), an historic Prairie School-style landmark. Overlooking the pond is the zoo’s picturesque Nature Boardwalk and a restored prairie ecosystem. The Patio at Café Brauer offers unparalleled views of the boardwalk, the ecosystem, and the Chicago skyline.
This is a lovely outdoor patio offering brunch, lunch, and dinner. Dishes include appetizers such as crispy calamari, beer batter-fried pickles, and tomato mozzarella pizza twists. The Patio offers various housemade burgers, fresh salads, hearty sandwiches, paninis, additional sides, and an array of desserts to choose from. All main entrees are served with a side of fries. At the Patio, diners can also choose various drinks and cocktails to order, including domestic, craft, imported, and on tap beers, as well as select wines, and non-alcoholic drinks (soft drinks, ice tea, coffee, tea, juice).
While you can order food and drink at The Patio, you should also stop by for live Music, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from May 29–September 27, 5:30–7:30 p.m. All ages can attend and it is free admission. You are able to experience the best in local music while dining at The Patio. Each week different local musicians from the Chicago area perform free acoustic sets. Guests ages 21+ can enjoy drink specials during the event. Featured music is curated by the Old Town School of Folk Music.
One aspect I also found interesting about the Patio when my friend and I dined there, is that the restaurant works closely and collaborates with the restaurant reservation company, Opentable. They work together to ensure that each potential guest and diner has an easy and smooth experience when booking a reservation, whether online or on the Opentable app.
My friend and I loved the open patio and seating when we ate at the restaurant. The views of the boardwalk and the skyline were breathtaking, though I have seen them several times before; I just felt that seeing them from this particular point of view made me appreciate them even more for their natural beauty. The Patio at Café Brauer displays a casual elegance, while also being a great place to eat for people out on a date, for a group of friends, a business meal, while also being extremely family friendly.
For our appetizer, we shared homemade guacamole and Patio pasilla salsa with warm, fresh tortilla chips. I also liked the fact that the Patio’s menu was very vegetarian and vegan friendly, such as the fact that it serves the Impossible Burger, which has been gaining more and more publicity as a 100% plant based patty. While my friend had the Patio Burger (all beef hamburger, aged white-cheddar, lettuce, tomato, sweet pickle), I ordered the grilled vegetable Panini (eggplant, yellow squash, zuchinni, tomato, fontina cheese). Both dishes came with a side of fries. I found the Panini to be quite tasty and flavorful, while my friend found her burger to be juicy yet simple. The fries were nicely crisp and not oily or overloaded with salt.
The food was very filling and I was a bit disappointed that we did not have enough room to sample the desserts on the menu, such as the mouthwatering sounding chocolate Nutella and strawberry Panini with whipped cream, or the jumbo cookie skillet!
While we found the food we ordered to be overall standard patio food, we came to the mutual agreement that the standout and featured star of The Patio at Café Brauer was the jaw dropping scenery of Lincoln Park, the boardwalk, the restored prairie ecosystem, and our gorgeous Chicago skyline. As I glanced again at the city skyline sitting at my table, I quickly reminded myself why I am lucky to live in one of the best cities in the world.
Photos: Jennifer Lunz
Through Labor Day
- Mon–Friday: 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
- Saturday & Sunday
- Brunch: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
- Lunch & Dinner: 2:30–9 p.m.
September 6—October 2
- Monday—Friday: 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday
- Brunch: 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
- Dinner: 2:30–7:30 p.m.
- Monday–Friday: 11:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m.
- Saturday–Sunday: 9 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
- Brunch: 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
- Dinner: 2–6:30 p.m.
Music at the Patio
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, May 29–September 27
All ages, free admission