Sure, the weather's been a bit dodgy this spring. But at Metromix, we're always looking on the bright side. So forget about soaring temps for a minute--we've got 10 other great new reasons to get outside.
1. Friends with boats. If your water-faring buddies are cool enough to take you cruising along the Chicago River, you can at least pop for dinner--especially when it's so easy to dock and dine. Best bet: Flatwater, which is about to debut a new boater carryout menu with orders served in waterproof keepsake bags.
2. Bock parties. Even if you're not one of the University of Texas alumni who flock to Brownstone Tavern & Grill for Longhorn games, you still have reason to cheer this spring: oh-so-delicious Shiner Bock, from Texas' oldest brewery, is now available in Chicago. Crack one open on the North Center bar's patio.
3. Boys, boys, boys. Halsted may have the gay bars, but on a summer evening nothing beats the seating at Broadway's cafes. Snag a table at Caribou Coffee--a.k.a. Cruise-A-Bou--or Windy City Sweets, and watch those tank-topped twinks trot by. Want an early start? Adesso, with its 50-seat sidewalk patio, now serves weekend brunch starting at 10:30 a.m.
4. Grills, grills, grills. No back yard? No problem. Take your Weber to the South Shore Cultural Center and get your grill on, lakeside. Sadly, there's no more DIY grilling at Sheffield's--but look for a new menu of wood-smoked meats (like pulled pork) to debut by early May.
5. Pregame warm-ups. Nothing goes with baseball like beer--except, perhaps, clear skies and sunshine. Get your fill of both at Mitchell's Tap, which took over the old Puffer's space near U.S. Cellular Field in October. The backyard patio opened April 2 for the Sox home opener and has been packing 'em in ever since.
6. Devilish heat. The mention of a new bar and grill always gets us hot, but not nearly as excited as we got when we heard of Forno Diablo, a new eatery with a menu revolving around a wood-burning brick oven. Cool down on the patio, which will be glass-enclosed for year-round fun. Opening this spring/summer.
7. Swinging singles. When it's warm out, nothing heats up faster than the Gold Coast singles scene, where alfresco sipping and scoping go hand-in-hand. Swing by HC, the revamped Hunt Club, which features a spruced-up patio and new menu for nibbling.
8. Cool cocktails. Steamy nights mean it's finally time to leave the hot toddies behind and sip into spring. Fulton Lounge debuts its seasonal drink menu tonight at its annual patio-opening party. Try the Fresh Fruit Prosecco, a blend of Grey Goose La Poire and prosecco with fresh, sugared muddled cucumbers and lime, served on the rocks ($8).
9. Fattening up. Think culture clashes make for good people watching? Pull up a seat on the patio at Fat Cat, which plans to open this summer in ever-so-slowly gentrifying Uptown. The bar, from partners at Silver Cloud and Five Star, will join the classic Green Mill, newbies Crew and Marigold along Broadway.
10. Wrigleyville remodels. From rooftops to beer gardens, nothing sums up summer better than a cold drink in the fresh breeze. Dine and drink on the patio or rooftop at the recently remodeled, sportier Vines on Clark, which is also working on opening a beer garden in its south parking lot.
[ Metromix staffers Karen Budell, Chris LaMorte, Matt McGuire, Kathleen Pratt and special contributor Terri Mooney ]Originally published April 18, 2007.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times