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Dining al Fresco

Enjoying delicious fare under the stars is easy in Chicago. We have listed some of our favorite restaurants.


Allen's--The New American Cafe, 217 W. Huron, 312-587-9600. Try the excellent walleye with leeks and fava beans. Save room for the fabulous desserts. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner Mon.-Sat. Closed Sun.

A Tavola, 2148 W. Chicago, 773-276-7567. Italian. Chef-owner Dan Bocik uses local organic produce and imports many gourmet ingredients from Italy. Start with grilled, marinated and roasted vegetables and then move on to a risotto dish or grilled beef ribeye. Dinner nightly. Closed Sun.

Bice Ristorante, 158 E. Ontario, 312-664-1474. Italian. Sit under an Italian market umbrella at one of the tables in Bic?'s summer garden area that seats 60. You'll feel like you are in Italy. Outstanding seafood and pasta dishes make this restaurant a truly special place. Lunch and dinner daily.

Bistro Campagne, 4518 N. Lincoln, 773-271-6100. This French bistro-inspired restaurant with a charming patio serves excellent salads, caramelized onion strudel, French onion soup and seafood. Order the dark chocolate souffl? for dessert. Dinner nightly, brunch Sun.

Bistro Margot, 1437 N. Wells, 312-587-3660. Start with the escargot or the salade Nicoise. Entrees range from rack of lamb to salmon. Save room for the popular chocolate mousse. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner nightly, brunch Sat. and Sun.

Brasserie Jo, 49 W. Hubbard, 312-595-0800. Enjoy the traditional French-Alsatian cuisine in dishes such as coq au vin or fresh fish specials. Dinner nightly.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!, 2024 N. Halsted, 773-935-5000. This popular tapas bar serves creative hot and cold tapas, including goat cheese, beef and sea bass. Save room for their sinful chocolate mousse. Lunch and dinner.

Cafe Selmarie, 4729 N. Lincoln, 773-989-5595. Enjoy Lincoln Square concerts while enjoying delicious soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Closed Mon.

Dinotto Ristorante, 215 W. North Ave., 312- 202-0302. Delightful simple Italian fare, including excellent pasta, veal dishes and salmon with capers. Save room for the tiramisu. Lunch Mon.-Sat. Dinner nightly.

Four Farthings, 2060 N. Cleveland, 773-935-2060. American. This Lincoln Park treasure serves excellent seafood and steaks. Start with the fried shrimp and crab cakes or the salad with hearts of palm and artichokes. Lunch and dinner daily.

Frontera Grill, 445 N. Clark, 312-661-1434. Mexican. Enjoy Rick Bayless' authentic regional fare on the patio overlooking Clark Street. The summer menu includes grilled meats, fish and poultry. And don't miss the tasty margaritas. Closed Sun. and Mon. Lunch Tues.-Fri. Dinner nightly. Brunch Sat.

Green Dolphin Street, 2200 N. Ashland, 773-395-0066. Contemporary. This is a restaurant that you can row up to by boat. Go for the great live jazz or the delicious menu which includes grilled veal chop and potato-wrapped halibut. The extensive wine list offers many international wines. The herb and flower garden seats 60. Dinner nightly. Closed Sun. and Mon.

Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood, 773-465-8005. Organic/Vegetarian. Try the delicious sweet potato fries. Lunch and dinner daily. Brunch Sat.-Sun.

Jacky's Bistro, 2545 Prairie, Evanston. 847-733-0899. This French bistro serves delicious onion soup, assorted pates, and bouillabaisse. The grilled shrimp with basil mashed potatoes is a stand-out. The desserts are terrific. Lunch Mon.-Fri. Dinner nightly.

Le Colonial, 937 N. Rush, 312-255-0088. Vietnamese. This lovely exotic restaurant serves excellent seafood, including red snapper. Lunch and dinner daily.

Maggiano's Little Italy, 516 N. Clark, 312-644-7700. Enjoy generous portions of pasta, steak and chicken. The cheese ravioli and the spinach and chicken manicotti are memorable. Lunch and dinner daily.

Marche, 833 W. Randolph, 312-226-8399. This French bistro fare is excellent, from the French onion soup to the steak with fries. Save room for dessert. Lunch weekdays, Dinner nightly.

Mas, 1670 W. Division, 773-276-8700. This Latin restaurant offers excellent seafood such as yellowfin tuna and citrus-marinated shrimp. Meat lovers will enjoy the lamb. Indulge in their savory desserts. Dinner nightly.

Meritage Cafe and Wine Bar, 2118 N. Damen, 773-235-6434. The grilled steak with Brie mashed potatoes and mushrooms is a stand-out. The scallops are excellent. Dinner nightly. Brunch Sun.

Mon Ami Gabi, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, 773-348-8886. French. Located in the historic Belden Stratford, this lively bistro specializes in steak frites, fresh fish and roasted chicken. The tree-shaded patio offers a scenic view of the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Dinner nightly.

Nacional 27, 325 W. Huron, 312-664-2727. Nuevo Latino. The menu represents 27 Latin countries from Central and South America. Try fresh seafood specials, ceviches and delicious pork dishes. Bring your dancing shoes for salsa on weekend nights. Dinner nightly. Closed Sun.

Naha, 500 N. Clark, 312-321-6242. Excellent Mediterranean-influenced salmon and tuna appetizers, and steak entrees are favorites. Lunch Mon.-Fri. Dinner nightly. Closed Sun.

Nomi, Park Hyatt, 800 N. Michigan, 312-239-4030. Nomi offers beverages, sushi bar and light dining. Lunch and dinner daily.

North Pond, 2610 N. Cannon Drive, 773-477-5845. American. Located beside the pond in Lincoln Park, this picturesque restaurant opens its doors to the city in warmer weather. The 70-seat dining room offers spectacular views of the city's skyline. Try one of the many seasonal creations like the fresh tomato salad or the pizza topped with mushrooms, Swiss chard and edible flowers. Lunch and dinner Tues.-Sun. Closed Mon.

Oceanique, 505 Main St., Evanston, 847-864-3435. French American Modern. The menu changes daily at this excellent upscale Evanston restaurant. The French-influenced seafood is always delicious. Alaskan King Ivory salmon and diver-caught sea scallops are fabulous, as is the steak with escargot and Gorgonzola cheese. Dinner nightly. Closed Sun.

The Palm at Swissotel Chicago, 323 E. Wacker, 312-616-1000. American. Dine in the outdoor patio with great views of Michigan Ave. and Navy Pier. Known for steak and lobster, the Palm also offers a variety of dishes including pastas and fish. Lunch and dinner daily.

Pasteur, 5525 N. Broadway, 773-878-1061. Vietnamese. Unique Vietnamese dishes are served in an enclosed Asian garden with a fireplace and skylights. Feast on the champagne salmon or the bean curd cornish hen with an orange peel wine sauce. Lunch Thurs.-Sun. Dinner nightly.

Pops for Champagne, 2934 N. Sheffield, 773-472-1000. Contemporary wine bar. Tucked behind Pops is an elegant, European-style garden, perfect for a romantic summer night. The grazing menu features gourmet pizzas, black bean quesadillas and heavenly sweet things like the orange-spiced creme brul?e. Live music nightly, no cover Sun.-Tues.

Puck's at the MCA, 220 E. Chicago Ave., 312-397-4034. Contemporary. The menu at Puck's draws on Mediterranean and Asian cuisine integrating signature dishes from Spago and newer items created for the caf?. Sit inside or out, overlooking the museum's sculpture garden. Closed Mon. Lunch only.

Riva, Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave., 312-644-7482. Seafood. Enjoy some of the city's best views of the lake and the skyline. The menu features lobster, a raw bar, fish and meat. Lunch and dinner daily.

Rivers, Mercantile Building, 30 S. Wacker, 312-559-1515. Contemporary. Across from Civic Opera House, sit on the terrace and enjoy the view. Lunch Mon.-Fri. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Closed Sun.

Roy's Chicago, 720 N. State, 312-787-7599. Hawaiian Fusion. Signature dishes include herb and garlic grilled shutome, Nori-charred salmon with enoki mushrooms and iron-seared mahi mahi in a macadamia lobster sauce. Dinner nightly.

Salpicon!, 1252 N. Wells, 312-988-7811. Mexican. Salpicon! is one of our favorite restaurants in the city, serving spectacular Mexican dishes. Start with fresh corn tamales or jalapenos stuffed with Chihuahua cheese. For main dishes, try the grilled tiger shrimp or grilled pork tenderloin. Excellent wine list and premium tequilas. The outdoor patio with seating for 18 people is bordered by wooden planters in the shape of Mayan pyramids. Dinner nightly. Brunch Sun.

Shanghai Terrace, 108 E. Superior, 312-573-6744. Chinese. This upscale hideaway is one of the more unique dining experiences in the city. The decor is modeled after a 1930s Shanghai supper club. The terrace overlooks Michigan Ave. Lunch and dinner daily. Closed Sun.

Silver Cloud Bar & Grill, 1700 N. Damen, 773-489-6212. American. The menu offers meat loaf, pot roast, chili, tuna melts and mac and cheese. Beer drinkers will enjoy the many microbrews. Dinner nightly. Brunch on Sat. and Sun.

Smith & Wollensky, 318 N. State, 312-670-9900. Steaks are the draw here. Start with the pea soup or the asparagus and crab salad. Lunch and dinner daily.

Tommy Nevin's Pub, 1450 Sherman Ave., Evanston, 847-869-0450. Irish. This friendly neighborhood spot serves up traditional Irish pub food. Great selection of British and Irish ales. Lunch and dinner daily.

Thyme, 464 N. Halsted, 312-226-4300. Contemporary American, French and North African Mediterranean influences. Specialties include grilled prime beef and pan-roasted rack of lamb. Dinner nightly.

Va Pensiero, 1566 Oak Ave., Evanston, 847-475-7779. Italian. Chef-owner Jeffrey Muldrow brings the freshest organic produce and meats to the table at this enchanting North Shore restaurant. Signature dishes include roasted salmon with a mustard marscapone glaze. More than 200 Italian wines are offered. Enjoy the serenity of the outdoor patio. Dinner nightly.

Published: June 01, 2005
Issue: Summer 2005