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Food & Drink

Outdoor dining season begins in Westmont area

WESTMONT – One of the pleasures of warm weather vacations is the opportunity to enjoy outdoor dining. With 2017’s unusual weather, we’ve already used up a few of our allotted days during our past Chicago winter. But our primary season is just around the corner with the next turn of the calendar page marking the beginning.

While there is no real standard or definition for outdoor dining, I went simple and looked for seating. In surveying our local Westmont establishments and utilizing this very loose definition, I discovered a surprising (at least to me) number of eateries with some form of outdoor seating – 33!

This number includes elaborately covered and heated patios, benches for ice cream, garage doors that open for food truck seating, front porch and back door seating, service and self-service options and even a glass-enclosed atrium for the patio effect year round.

With the public area renovation complete at the Hilton Oak Brook Hills, we have two beautiful and tranquil options for outdoor dining. Golfers and the public share tables at Noonan’s, the halfway house that features a simple menu (hot dogs, brats, chips) with a beautifully landscaped setting with views of the pool area, ponds and the ever-challenging Par 3 18th hole with its elevated tee box and water hazard.

On the opposite side of the pool is the newly renovated Tin Cup. Featuring a gastro pub-style menu, indoor golf simulators and occasional entertainment, the highlight is the 40-seat outdoor patio right on the edge of the Audubon-certified 18-hole golf course. Open for lunch and dinner, the outdoor area has heat lamps, fire pits and complimentary bags to augment a broad menu of salads, sandwiches, wraps and burgers.

A lesser-known option, and one that works year round, is The Deli at 601. Located in a large office building at 601 Oakmont Drive, The Deli is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. While primarily serving office tenants and guests, The Deli is open to the public with seating in a two-story glass-enclosed atrium. Avoiding the lunch rush, the atrium is a comfortable setting and a perfect place to catch up with friends over a freshly prepared meal or a cup of coffee.

While Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, Café Jolena, Cucinova and Ditka’s Grill 89 all have outdoor seating along the Pasquinelli Drive corridor, as you turn the corner onto Ogden Avenue, it’s the Standard Market Group that has really distinguished themselves.

The Standard Market, while well known for its fresh produce, baked goods, seafood and butcher areas, also is home to three distinct eateries, each with its own designated patio dining area.

The Standard Market Grill is the leader of the pack and often filled to capacity at lunch. Heated umbrellas and a fireplace add to the ambiance. Enjoy both lunch and dinner, seven days per week, as well as breakfast on the weekends. Closer to the exit doors, Standard Tacos & Margaritas has a separate menu, staff and patio area. As the name implies, it’s a Mexican-themed eatery serving lunch and dinner.

Entering the wine and cheese area transports you into the Standard Market’s third eatery, The Cube. Its patio fronts Ogden Avenue while its menu offers several interesting nibbles, specials and of course, wine and craft beers.

Bakersfield Wood Fired Grill sits directly across the street from The Standard Market and takes patio dining up a notch. With an outdoor fireplace, separate fire pit, canopied communal table along with heated umbrellas, Bakersfield’s farm-to-table menu is available seven days per week at both lunch and dinner. The brick retaining wall and lush landscaping create a quieter than expected environment, complementing delicious food. Lunch and dinner are served seven days per week.

Fast-food and fast-casual eateries have jumped on the outdoor band wagon. On Ogden Avenue alone, Wendy’s, Chipotle, Pot Belly Sandwich Works, Great American Bagel, Jimmy’s Dog House and Woodgrain Pizzeria all have outdoor seating available.

One of the more popular outdoor options is at Taco Grill. Indoors at lunch time is often filled to capacity, so the outdoor area nearly doubles seating. With a late-night menu and traffic on Ogden Avenue dissipating after sunset, Taco Grill’s patio is also a nice place to relax for a later dinner or late-night snack.

Moving into the Central District brings us another nine opportunities for outdoor dining. DJ’s Sports Bar has outdoor seating, Neat kitchen + bar sits you right on the front porch, Taco Express has seating in an adjacent park, and Dolce’s, Brewed Awakening and Tasty Treat all have seating outside.

J. Fleming’s Absolutely Delicious was voted the most popular outdoor dining venue for 2016 in the Suburban Life Media Reader’s Choice Awards voting and will pick up the award for 2017 at the annual awards banquet. In the heart of downtown, buildings on both sides minimize wind, a canopy keeps you dry during light rain and you can enjoy the John Fleming’s famous Cuban sandwich at both lunch and dinner!

One of my favorites is located at Amber Café. With a full heating system, Amber utilizes the patio area 10 or more months per year. The canopy top and north side wall always are in place, and the remaining two walls are removed as weather permits. Landscaped beautifully, the full menu is available for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Add in Amber’s impeccable service, and it becomes a downtown oasis.

The Knights of Columbus have a beautiful sideyard patio. Primarily known for utilization during the Taste of Westmont and Thursday night Street Fairs, the patio at the Knights of Columbus got a surprise bonus use on March 24 as temperatures passed 70 at the Lenten Fish Fry and the patio was packed!

Heading south, we encounter our final six outdoor venues. Papa Passero’s and Margie’s Beef both have outdoor seating. Ruta has been known to place a few tables on their front sidewalk, and a walk out the back door of Tap House Grill reveals a large and frequently-in-use patio area.

At Myths and Legends Brewing Company, the garage door is open anytime the weather allows. Tables and chairs slide out, and an opportunity to enjoy some fine craft brews arises. On many nights, a food truck or two make their way to Zygmunt Circle, adding to the relaxing atmosphere in an industrial courtyard.

Our newest food store, Mariano’s, has a beautiful, sun-soaked patio immediately adjacent to the indoor dining area. Purchase your food from any of the indoor stands – and there are many – and choose indoor or outdoor to enjoy your freshly prepared meal. Or take it to go and head over to Myths and Legends for an accompanying beverage.

While it’s clearly possible to "dine around the world" at our nearly 100 Westmont eateries, it’s also possible to enjoy a third of them in the great outdoors. Hang up the coats and head on out!

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If you go

WHAT: Patio dining in Westmont

WHERE: 33 eateries throughout Westmont

HOURS: Call or online

DRESS CODE: Varies by restaurant

INFO: westmontchamber.com

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