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Thursday 1 October 2020
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Alfresco dining: Outdoor seating is key for these Chicago restaurants

You wouldn’t think a big city like Chicago would have such unparalleled outdoor seating at so many restaurants. Then again, this is Chicago, and it surprises even us on a pretty regular basis.

Here are just a few of the favorites, straight from a collection of active locals:

“My very favorite outdoor dining is Erie Café (536 W. Erie) — right in the middle of downtown, though away from the noise. Spectacular views of Willis Tower and right by the Chicago River to watch the boats go by. Comfortable neighborhood gem with excellent food. My favorite!” — Roana Baxter, concierge at The Drake Hotel

Piccolo Sogno (464 N. Halsted) has great food, and the garden is truly an oasis in the city.” — Catherine Davids, concierge at the Hotel Sax

Japonais (600 W. Chicago), especially on the riverwalk or patio. Tall trees cover the street and make you feel like you’re having a private, exclusive dinner. They’ve got live music out there, and it’s so much quieter than inside the dining room.” — Robbine Kim

LuxBar (18 E Bellvue) has a small area for dining outdoors, but great food. And Gibsons (1050 N. Rush) is the place to be seen and people watch. Great mixed drinks where the bartenders know their drinks!” — Alfredo Caliva, concierge at the Doubletree Magnificent Mile

“You would never know by driving by this beautifully designed Italian restaurant, but Piccolo Sogno (464 N. Halsted) has to be my favorite alfresco dining spot. Their large back patio is the perfect setting to enjoy a bottle of wine and a light bite. They have an amazing selection of antipasto and insalata.” — Johanna Fridrich

“When summer rolls around, everyone wants to be outside to soak in as much warmth as possible. Quartino (626 N. State) is definitely on my radar for terrific people watching, sharable Italian small plates and affordable wines. For cheap, delicious Mexican, I’ll head over to Big Star (1531 N. Damen) in Wicker Park. They have a dog-friendly patio, relaxed service and a killer al pastor taco.” — Samantha Cybor, concierge at the Hotel Sax

“The Park Grill (11 N. Michigan) is a great place to end up after spending the day strolling through Millennium Park or the Art Institute. Situated underneath ‘The Bean,’ Park Grill has spectacular views of the city, making it easy to relax and daydream.” — Patricia Hall