Seated girl and standing funny colorfully dressed old lady at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, Lincoln Park Conservatory

Restaurant Review: Enjoy the best of Lincoln Park Zoo at the Patio at Café Brauer

Seated girl and standing funny colorfully dressed old lady at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, Lincoln Park Conservatory

With warmer weather coming out way, the best part of Chicago’s dining experience is sitting outdoors at a café. For its 13th season, at the only free zoo in North America, The Patio at Café Brauerhas opened its doors to a dining experience fit for both man AND beast!

The Patio Is located just south of the main zoo grounds beside Café Brauer, an historic Prairie School-style landmark. You and your furry friends are welcome on the patio as you sip an imaginative cocktail or dine on savory small plates and specialty burgers overlooking “panoramic views of Nature Boardwalk, a restored native ecosystem, and soaring skyscrapers.” 

On weekdays, start with shareables like Thai Chicken Kabob, with cucumber salad, peanut sauce, cilantro, fresh lime. Or a Tomato Bruschetta, with ricotta cheese, red onion, fresh basil, with a balsamic reduction. Families can also share the Mediterranean Layer Dip, with feta cheese, hummus, mixed veggies, and pita bread. 

You can taste a bit of summer this spring with the Patio’s Summer Berry Salad, livelywith spring mix lettuce, heirloom grape tomato, cucumber, radish, mix berries, and toasted almonds, in a white balsamic vinaigrette. Patio Grilled Salmon is served with quinoa pilaf, grilled asparagus, and blackberry relish for a sweet-savory mix. Hearty appetites will enjoy Steak and Fries, served with chimichurri, truffle oil, parmesan cheese, and fresh, grilled asparagus.

HANDHELD says the menu! Among these ‘handhelds’ are their famous Patio Burger, a well-reviewed all-beef patty, served with lettuce, tomato, sweet pickle, and house-made chips. Vegetarians will enjoy the Falafel Burger, with a combination of lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber, and tahini sauce, also with house-made chips. ‘El Sabor’ tacos include Carne Asada, with cabbage salad, pico de gallo, and cilantro, and Baja Fish Tacos, with beer battered cod, cabbage salad, pico de gallo, cilantro, and crema.

Over the weekend, brunch is the order of the day! The Patio at Café Brauer serves from 9am – 2pm, and includes Texas French Toast, mixing a fresh berry compote with powdered sugar, and topped with maple syrup. Their Breakfast Skillet is a healthy mix of bell peppers, potatoes, onions, chorizo, cheddar, eggs, and your choice of red guajillo or green serrano salsa. Their Breakfast Burrito offers a blend of scrambled eggs, Mexican blend cheese, pico de gallo, chorizo, and is served with breakfast potatoes. 

The Patio at Café Brauer is located at 2021 N. Stockton Drive.  It’s open Monday through Friday from 11am–6pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 9am–6pm for weekend brunch. For more information, click here. 

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago