Every Summer, Chicago is blessed with a few perfect days of sunshine and mild temperatures. You know when the ideal conditions have arrived because everyone with an appetite can be found dining al fresco. While there are great restaurants serving outdoors across the city, I like to hop off the Blue Line at Damon to feast in the sun!


Cozy up at Birchwood Kitchen

There's nothing better than brunch in Birchwood Kitchen's (2211 W North Ave) leafy, peaceful backyard. Whether it's one of their delectable tuna sandwiches with a side of house-made pickles, a spot of yogurt with seasonally available fruit, or a croque madame filled with country ham & gruyere and topped with fresh eggs, I can count on simple, elegant food prepared well. The service is fast and friendly, too. On my way out, I usually load up on more pickles from the to-go case and find a few more items to tide me over until my next visit.


Grab a table at Big Star

Big Star, Wicker Park

If you like a curated selection of whiskey, rockabilly vibe, and tasty tacos, then Big Star (1531 N Damen Ave) is your culinary home. I find myself craving the fish tacos with Chipotle mayo, the braised pork belly, and an order of Queso Fundido. Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I usually top off my order with their deliciously painful grilled jalapenos. Big Star gets packed in the evenings and on weekends, but you can always try the pick-up window and take your food to nearby Wicker Park.


Sip in the shade at The Southern

The shady patio at The Southern (1840 W North Ave), is a perfect spot to sip from a frosty glass while nibbling on fried green tomatoes or smoked mac and cheese. The dinner menu is truly a tribute to the South -- whether it's the crawfish tails, dirty rice or a plate of hush puppies, I can always taste the love. However, if you have a large group and an even bigger appetite, plan ahead and make reservations for the family-style fried chicken dinner. It is out of this world good.

These restaurants make me hungry every time I write about them -- excuse me while I check the weather forecast!