Jaunted's Gems Of Al Fresco Dining In Chicago's Old Town
Since we're officially in Indian Summer, with the cool days of late September on our minds and the scorchers of early August already forgotten, we're attempting to spend as many evening as possibly out, dining al fresco. For anyone hitting up Chicago yet this seasons, a perfect area for finding different sidewalk dining every evening is in the Old Town neighborhood, nicely sandwiched between the yuppie cool of Lincoln Park and the grand piano-in-window style of the Gold Coast.
Walk up to here from shopping on Michigan Avenue by going north on State Street, and cutting a left at Goethe or Schiller streets (really, any street named after a dead German poet) for a couple blocks until the fake gaslights and wrought iron gates of Wells Street open up before you. This neighborhood really gets buzzing with liquored-up (yet classy) street fairs several times a summer, and another big onethe Old Town Wine Crushis coming up on September 12-13; mark your calendars!
Since one of the most popular questions coming from Chicago tourists is where to finally sit down and enjoy a nice meal, that's not a chain restaurant or overpriced for the quality, let us share a few favorites: We recommend beginning your al fresco adventures at Orso's Italian, one of the oldest restaurants in the district with the best atmosphere. Is it possible to resist jalapeno gnocchi or Veal scallopini al limone? We didn't think so.
For French cuisine and the all-important brunch, it's got to be Bistrot Margot, another mecca for al fresco dining and a major cougar den, when they aren't chasing prey (you know what we mean).
For an after-dinner treat, you can either got the traditional ice cream route at Cold Stone Creamery, but since we prefer to steer clear of chains, instead you'll find us checking out the special imported cigars at Up Down Tobacco Shop. Just look for the giant carved wood Indian, glass storefront revealing one hell of an interior humidor, and follow your nose. Is it obvious that we're already getting nostalgic for summer?
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