Hidden Alfresco Dining Spots

Hidden Alfresco Dining Spots

Photo of Chicago Magazine

Sidewalk dining has its charms, but secret gardens are far better places to eat and drink outdoors in the city.

10 Places
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    Homemade pastas and high-quality ingredients—think earthy fettuccine and roasted veggies—roll out of Tony Priolo’s kitchen to convivial customers in the hip dining room and on the fab patio in summer.
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    Bruce Sherman exploits the seasons with beef and mushrooms for the cautious crowd and squid and watermelon for the daring, but always with a fresh dimension.
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    This eclectic outlier thrives on spontaneity, offering Japanese mackerel fried in foie fat one day and simple spit-roasted chicken another.
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    Pristine oysters, onion soup, chicken liver mousse, and boeuf bourguignonne offer all the comforts of a Gallic home. So does the gated, shrub-filled front lawn.
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    Loyalists know the restaurant’s big secret: bold French flavors served at palatable prices by an au fait—yet unstuffy—staff. The lamb shank is fork tender, and the requisite coq au vin delivers.
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    Those who prefer the pre-small-plate era of fine dining will appreciate dishes such as pan-seared duck breast, scallops with celeriac and apple, salmon over lentils, and rack of lamb.
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    Satisfy your bistro longings with mussels in Belgian ale or a caramelized onion strudel. Yes, there’s steak frites, but also a savory socca Provençal—classic Nice-style chickpea crêpes filled with vegetables and melting goat cheese.
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    At this cozy trattoria, Brad Schlieder showcases the milder side of the Italian table, eschewing red sauces and cheesy standards for, say, a classic veal milanese or a breezy Bolognese over tagliatelle.
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    Silky lemon panna cotta and affordable Italian wines provide perfect foils to the meal. Beat the noise on the beautiful wood-planked deck.
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    Seared diver scallops with ramps and chimichurri shows off seasonality. The patio out back has synthetic grass, an herb garden, and a small fire pit.
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