Dining al fresco on Chicago’s North Shore Part I: Lake Bluff
today at 9:01 am
Restaurants in Illinois finally got the green light to return to doing what they were designed to do–serving food to diners.
For now only outdoor dining is allowed as part of the Phase 3, May 29, Restore Illinois plan. Since it’s summer, this plan works well for now.
Even with social distancing, especially in the city, crowds can be seen waiting in long lines to gain a treasured socially distanced “seat at the table.” Sometimes diners are required to pay an extra fee just to make a reservation.
If you’re hankering to get back outside but aren’t ready for the crowds–a world of “fine” dining awaits on Chicago’s North Shore.
By fine, we’re not talking just high-end, white table cloth dining, we mean fine as in good, delightful, just right.
Restaurants on the North Shore offer everything from pizza, hot dogs and tacos to lobster, caviar and truffles.
Today, Show Me Chicago is starting a 5-part series taking a look at some of our favorite alfresco dining spots on Chicago’s North Shore.
We’ll begin with Lake Bluff, about 30 miles north of the city. Nestled along Lake Michigan, the village has a small-town vibe and a friendly spirit.
But this is not Mayberry.
You’ll find sophisticated upscale restaurants like Maevery Public House (20 E. Scranton) and Inovasi (28 E. Center). Then there’s family-friendly spots like Bluffington’s Cafe (113 E. Scranton)–open for breakfast and lunch. Talk about family friendly, Bluffington’s loves kids so much that in the summer they welcome them with $1 ice cream cones.
Looking for pizza, head to the Silo (625 Rockland Rd.) for traditional pizzas and pastas, a casual atmosphere and a full bar. Or check out the no-frills, just good Italian food and pizza at Donati’s (205 Waukegan)–a family friendly favorite with Bluffers.
Mexican? Take your pick. In downtown Lake Bluff, there’s The Otherdoor (30 E. Center) that features bowls, tacos, margarita’s and more. On the west side of town–you’ll get delicious tacos and a casual vibe at Tacos El Norte (305 Waukegan).
Lake Bluff has always embraced al fresco dining but has gone even further in 2020.
The charming downtown has seven restaurants open for outdoor dining from coffee and doughnuts to vegan, fine dining and a Brew Pub.
They’ve closed off one side of Scranton Avenue adjacent to the park for extra (socially distanced) seating. Restaurants facing the closed street include: Be Market (Vegan); Maevery’s (upscale American); The Brewery (craft beer) and just around the corner, Hansa for coffee and donuts.
One of my favorite spots to grab an Amerciano after shopping Lake Bluff’s Friday morning Farmer’s Market is Prairie (91 E. Scranton)–set in an alley loaded with greenery and well spaced dining tables (dogs allowed). Prairie also has special open mic nights, wine and weekend brunch.
John des Rosiers, owner of Inovasi and The Otherdoor, who is a veteran of Trotter’s and Gabriel’s, has made Lake Bluff into a dining destination.
Currently, the patio is open at Inovasi’s for al fresco dining with selections from their innovate, artisan and seasonal menu plus outstanding burgers. The wine and spirits menu is first class with many house made infusions and creative touches.
The creative genius of des Rosiers has come into play during the pandemic where he has turned Inovasi’s large unusable indoor space into an upscale wine and liquor store where you can browse (and buy) from his collection of top-notch and artisanal spirits.
AL FRESCO DINING IN LAKE BLUFF
Forest Greens Juice Bar
Lake Bluff Brewing Company
Luke’s of Lake Bluff
Tacos el Norte
Rules, rules, rules
- Outdoor dining and/or drinking only
- Parties of 6 persons or fewer
- Proper social distancing of 6-ft and/or barriers between tables
- Employees must wear face coverings over the nose and mouth and wash hands frequently; gloves are to be worn by those preparing food
- Readily available hand washing or hand sanitizing for employees and customers
Visit https://www.lflbchamber.com/now-open-for-business/ for a continually updated list of retail and service businesses ready to serve customers.