I totally get it, there is a new patio opening in the city every week. Or re-opening. Or rolling out new cocktails that flame, sparkle and make it rain insta-worthy photo ops. Then you get a plate fit for a mini-human, that has you racing to Taco Bell after the $500 bill comes.
There’s something to be said for places where kids are welcome, where adults can fill up on good wine and tasty meals, and where everyone can get their al fresco dining on.
Skip the Uber; here are a few places a short walk from the Harlem Green Line stop in picturesque Oak Park. After your meal, explore the area. There’s nothing better than walking off lamb chops, tacos or a big plate of homemade gnocchi under the stars on a summer night.
Cucina Paradiso has been a staple in Oak Park for more than 20 years. Named one of the best destination spots for “cheap eats with exceptional food” by the Chicago Tribune, and similarly lauded by the Sun-Times, Wednesday Journal, Oak Park Eats, and Chicago Magazine, this Italian eatery is the epitome of tried-and-true. Their patio is nestled under twinkle lights, the ingredients are fresh, the pasta is homemade, and the ambiance is everything you would expect from an Oak Park mainstay.
Try: The owner’s favorite, homemade rigatoni with blistered cherry tomatoes, broccolini and fresh mozzarella.
Situated at the intersection of Lake and Marion streets, this location is in the heart of Oak Park. With farm-to-table ingredients and tasty craft beers, Lake Street Kitchen and Bar has a downtown vibe with late night hours and a sprawling patio.
Try: Sausage and pepper flatbread to start, followed by the tequila-honey salmon.
Citrine will serve you one of the tastiest, most satisfying meals you have ever experienced. Their American menu has Mediterranean influences and is created by the former sous chef of the Langham Hotel. They pay serious attention to detail, and you can taste the quality of their ingredients in every bite. The patio is large and candlelit, and the new kid’s menu makes it a perfect place to have either a quiet date night or an effortless family dinner experience.
Try: Shishito peppers to start, then grilled rack of lamb.
For more than 10 years, Maya del Sol has been serving latin fusion cuisine with an exciting cocktail menu and a warm ambiance. Their back patio is a local favorite, and is the only one on the list not exposed to a street view. Their margaritas alone will bring an audience, but we stay for the guac and surf and turf.
Try: Mango braised beef nachos, and the surf and turf or steak tacos.
You don’t have to be vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free to enjoy the large portions at Munch which satisfy the heartiest of appetites. The BYOB patio is on the smaller side, but I’ve never had a problem getting a seat. It’s a great location to enjoy a relaxing vibe and people watch on Marion Street.
Try: Lemony hummus plate and the Amazing Black Bean Burger