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.
Restaurants in Chicago take over the sidewalks and, sometimes, literally, take out their front windows when the temps get warm. Here are four of our favorite outdoor eating spots.
3358 N. Lincoln Ave.
Nestled in the heart of Lakeview on the city’s north side isFrasca, the home of wood-burning pizza, fresh salads and a widesidewalk café. What could make for a better summer diningcombination? The best part of Frasca’s café is that it’s on a sidestreet of Roscoe with plenty of clearance for walkers. Have yourkids face the El while you eat and you’ll have built-inentertainment 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 youhad kids, you’ll be delighted to know about Bistro Campagne,Lincoln Square’s organic and locally sourced French bistro, withone of the best outdoor patios. Bistro Campagne’s outdoor terraceis like another room of the restaurant all unto itself. A walled-incourtyard has ambient lighting and tablecloths on the tables justlike in the nooks and crannies inside. Order up the Croque Monsieurfor the kiddos and bon appétit!
11 N. Michigan Ave.
Millennium Park, one of the city’s most kid-friendly outdoorspaces, also has one of the most kid-friendly outdoor cafes.Nestled off Michigan Avenue, but within sight of the park’s eyecandy-the great water fountains-Park Grill Café offers a menu kidswill adore and parents will find equally appealing. The onlychallenge is keeping the kids still while you finish your meal.Those fountains are calling.
Park Grill Café
2055 W. Roscoe St.(877) 410-7148thevillagetap.com
Nestled behind the trappings of a typical Chicago bar is arather subdued and altogether kid-tastic beer garden patio wherethe beer runs cool and the kids are satiated by typical pubfare.
Shaded from the blistering western exposure, and walled withWrigley-like ivy, once you head to the Tap’s patio, you might neverwant to leave.