If you're a typical Chicagoan, the minute the mercury hits 65 degrees the windows fly open and any thought of sitting home in a hot kitchen cooking evaporates like the mist over Lake Michigan.
Summer in Chicago means taking advantage of the few warm months we have to enjoy doing almost everything we can outdoors, not the least of which is dining at sidewalk cafes.
Local restaurants manage to adjust all sorts of space outdoors to say they offer "alfresco dining"-even if that means just a few sparse tables on a busy sidewalk. Others build plush accommodations for pure relaxation. But anywhere outdoors is coveted by parents of children who would otherwise be messing up a clean kitchen floor.
The options are great and varied for alfresco dining in the city.
3358 N. Lincoln Ave.
Nestled in the heart of Lakeview on the city's north side is Frasca, the home of wood-burning pizza, fresh salads and a wide sidewalk café. What could make for a better summer dining combination? The best part of Frasca's café is that it's on a side street of Roscoe with plenty of clearance for walkers. Have your kids face the El while you eat and you'll have built-in entertainment to go along with that warm summer breeze.
4518 N. Lincoln Ave.
If French dining is your thing, but you've given up hope since you had kids, you'll be delighted to know about Bistro Campagne, Lincoln Square's organic and locally sourced French bistro, with one of the best outdoor patios. Bistro Campagne's outdoor terrace is like another room of the restaurant all unto itself. A walled-in courtyard has ambient lighting and tablecloths on the tables just like in the nooks and crannies inside. Order up the Croque Monsieur for the kiddos and bon appétit!
11 N. Michigan Ave.
Millennium Park, one of the city's most kid-friendly outdoor spaces, also has one of the most kid-friendly outdoor cafes. Nestled off Michigan Avenue, but within sight of the park's eye candy-the great water fountains-Park Grill Café offers a menu kids will adore and parents will find equally appealing. The only challenge is keeping the kids still while you finish your meal. Those fountains are calling.
2055 W. Roscoe St.
Nestled behind the trappings of a typical Chicago bar is a rather subdued and altogether kid-tastic beer garden patio where the beer runs cool and the kids are satiated by typical pub fare.
Shaded from the blistering western exposure, and walled with Wrigley-like ivy, once you head to the Tap's patio, you might never want to leave.