Friday, May 4, 2007

'Tis the Season: Dining Al Fresco on the North Side

One of my favorite things to do - anywhere in the world, including here at home - is eat outside. Perhaps it's a response to how long the winter's seem here in Chicago, but when the weather is nice, I want to spend every moment outside. Check out a couple of my favorite outdoor cafe's.

This neighborhood joint is called Chicago Joe's and is located at the corner of Irving Park Road and Oakley (just east of Western.) Joe's is in St. Ben's - which is a bit outside of the West Lakeview neighborhood, but reasonably close. Residents that look like they've been part of the landscape for centuries can be found here on warm days at lunchtime and the lack of a crowd allows them to hang out for hours. Joe's is not too noisy for being located on busy Irving Park Road and has a great old-neighborhood atmosphere.

The Daily Grill, located in Lincoln Square, has a slightly larger outdoor space located off the sidewalk in a contemporary garden atmosphere. This location along Lincoln Avenue is in a more high pedestrian traffic area and is superior for people watching. Beware of the long island iced teas here - you'll need to walk home if you indulge.

From the photo, you can see the prep for the summer outdoor season is not yet finished. These guys need to GET WITH THE PROGRAM! The food here is upscale-cafe-style with standard burgers and fries plus wraps and other more original menu choices. All are fantastic. This popular hang out can have wait times of over a half-hour on weekend evenings but there's always space available at lunchtime.