If you’re looking for a delightful event space in the city or maybe a great place to get a sandwich and a cocktail when you’re at Lincoln Park Zoo, then the Patio at Café Brauer is the . . . The Patio is . . . Patio . . . I can’t go on.
I want to. I want to do my job and tell you about the almost Parisian charm of The Patio at 5 o’clock in the afternoon with the Hancock building peeking over the treetops in the distance and the simple geometric marque tiled floor and the windowsills, built, like the entirety of the building, by a craftsman in 1900 who’d spent his entire adult life building windowsills and therefore laid into the brick a collection of casings that have remained perfect and alluring for the last 118 years and I’d like to tell you how peaceful it is to sit by one of those windows and sip your Watermelon Paloma but I can’t because all I can think of, the only item in my mind, my single thought, and prevailing idea is how amazing, how perfect, and how delicious is their buttermilk chicken burger.
But, ok. Damn. Hang on. I can do this. Ok. (Ahem) The Patio is the ground floor level café overlooking the park lagoon next to the ice cream store in Café Brauer, the turn of the century prairie-style brick building–I mean it’s a perfect sandwich. I’ve had a lot of sandwiches in my day, in the half century of unbridled face-stuffing I’ve survived, I have. I’ve eaten the fried oyster po’boy from Acme in the French Quarter in New Orleans, I’ve had a—Look, I’m not a newbie. I know meat and bread foodstuffs. I’m from Alabama. I know fried chicken. And the buttermilk chicken burger at The Patio–
The Patio below Café Brauer has a great spring and summer menu. Their Impossible Burger is a vegetarian wonder, savory and toothsome like a good burger should be. I sampled the Impossible Burger along with its meaty cousins, the Patio Burger and the Chicken Burger and [My Attorney] pointed out that I was eating a vegetarian version because I was making deep and sonorous happy noises and she thought I was joking.
Along with the burgers, The Patio’s bar serves a selection of specialty margaritas and martinis. Their Jalapeño Margarita comes with a salty chili pepper rim and a jalapeño garnish and it’s truly delicious, the perfect drink for a summer afternoon in the park. The Watermelon Paloma is not only a delectable punch-like beverage, it’s also gorgeous and their buttermilk Chicken burger might be the best in the city.
Am I wrong? Chicago delivers legendary fried chicken sandwiches. I would list them here but I’m afraid my editor would punch me in the face. Trust me, Chicago is not kidding around with the fried chicken sandwiches. There are iconic examples. Mythic assemblages of fried chicken, coleslaw, pickles, and sauce. The kind of fried chicken burgers that make it onto well-known cable food shows and the burger at The Patio deserves to be on that list. It’s scrumptious, it is simple, it is unassuming. I talked to the chef responsible for this remarkable dish to find out what's in it that makes it so good. Is there a secret ingredient? Is there an unusual technique? However, like any great chef, she said it's all about the ingredients and the ingredients for this sandwich are just buttermilk fried chicken, ranch dressing, a bun and a pickle and maybe that's the rub. Maybe that's what makes this one so good is its adherence to form. It is simple. It is unadorned. It is the greates–
With al fresco seating and a charming interior, The Patio is a perfect place to take a break from a day of staring at the Bactrian Camel or Baer’s Pochard at the Lincoln Park Zoo. If you’re strolling the nearby park, you may find yourself admiring the statue of Hans Christian Andersen and his disapproving goose. See the look on his face? He’s thinking Great, they’re serving one of the most amazing buttermilk burgers in the city and I’m a Goddam statue. #statuelife
The Patio at Cafe Brauer is located at 2021 N Stockton.