Fresh fare

Appears in the September 2020 issue.

Amid the lockdown a lot of us kept to our patios and decks and made the best of it. But with summer winding down and our favorite restaurants now open, it’s time to try some professional patios. A cool beverage and fine meal taste a lot better when someone else prepares them for you. Here are three of our favorite local options.

Weingarten Tent

SixtyFour Wine Bar & Kitchen in Naperville’s Water Street District has two options for outdoor seating—the patio in back of the restaurant along the river and the festive outdoor tent east of the restaurant. The Weingarten tent often offers live music and themed wine events. “Those diners wanting to enjoy the lively, fun atmosphere of our outdoor seating should make reservations, but for those who seek a more quiet, reserved experience we still offer the Reserve Room for an indoor experience,” says owner Loren Beadle. With 64 wines by the glass, you may need to come back a few times.
123 Water St., Naperville

Gillerson’s Grubbery

Against the backdrop of a cool brick façade, take an outside seat at one of Gillerson’s tables under the signature black umbrellas. Gillerson’s is serving its award-wining burgers and craft beers in patio seating on dedicated street space in downtown Aurora, thanks to help from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. Outdoor dining has been so well received by the community that “we’re looking at ways to offer permanent outdoor dining,” says owner Dan Emerson. While you’re enjoying the attentive service and warm weather, try the Rebel Duck burger, prepared with steak burger, pork shoulder, bacon, white cheddar, and fried onion strings. Check social media for special evenings with live music or outdoor movies.
33 W. New York St., Aurora

The Table at Crate

Technically it’s not a patio, but it’s better—the Rooftop Lounge atop the Table at Crate, which overlooks the Green in the heart of Oakbrook Center. Sure, you can do outdoor seating on the ground-level patio at Crate & Barrel, but the Rooftop Lounge is a singular experience, with seating for up to 18 people. Go early to try the lounge’s twist on afternoon teatime (think cupcakes and tea-infused cocktails). The ever-changing menu is created by culinary director and James Beard Award finalist Bill Kim, including several vegetarian and gluten-free options. For lunch and dinner, work your way through a menu of fresh salads, tartines, healthy bowls, and entrées. It’s a perfect place to unwind with a craft cocktail or glass of rosé.
35 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook

Photos courtesy The Table at Crate