The Scene

Check out these suburbs for great outdoor dining options

In St. Charles, the city’s First Street Plaza redevelopment created a space for outdoor dining.

Spring has officially sprung.

You may or may not believe that depending on what day you’re reading this, since it could just as easily be snowing outside as it could be 70 degrees and sunny. Either way, outdoor dining season is (or is almost) here.

Not much beats a nice meal outside on a nice day. And while COVID-19 wasn’t good for much, it did encourage many local eateries to put a bigger emphasis on al fresco dining.

Some suburban towns even created outdoor dining zones during the seasonable months.

Arlington Heights introduced Arlington Alfresco during the summer of 2020 to provide outdoor dining during the pandemic. It’s remained since, closing portions of Campbell Street and Vail Avenue to make more space for sidewalk tables at restaurants including Salsa 17, Mago Grill & Cantina, Peggy KInane’s, Carlos and Carlos and more.

Arlington Alfresco in downtown Arlington Heights was introduced in the summer of 2020 to provide outdoor dining during the pandemic.

Arlington Alfresco is open May through September.

Similar to Arlington Alfresco, the Downtown Wheaton Association and the city created the Innovator Hale Street Tents al fresco dining zone in 2020. The stretch of pavement has since become a summer magnet and a festive scene, replete with white tents, landscaping and live music.

Wheaton plans to have outdoor dining again under tents on Hale Street in the downtown area.

The monthslong event has become a community favorite featuring live music every Friday and Saturday night. Restaurants that participated in 2023 include Egg’lectic Café, Moveable Feast + Co., Gia Mia, Altiro Latin Fusion, Hale Street Cantina, The Burger Social and Ivy.

DuPage County has a robust outdoor dining scene outside of Wheaton as well.

The Naperville Convention and Visitors Bureau lists more than 50 restaurants with outdoor dining on their Dine Naperville page, including Meson Sabika, which last year was named among the top 100 most popular restaurants for outdoor dining in America by OpenTable.

The Spanish tapas-style restaurant was one of only three restaurants in Illinois to make the list, and the only one outside of Chicago.

In St. Charles, the city’s First Street Plaza redevelopment created space for outdoor dining at spots like Alter Brewing & Kitchen, Gia Mia and more.

Downtown St. Charles was already replete with outdoor dining options like The Graceful Ordinary, The Filling Station Pub & Grill, The Office Dining & Spirits, Flagship on the Fox and others.

Further upstream in Algonquin, downtown restaurants and the village are working to return enhanced outdoor dining and live entertainment along Main Street for summer as they’ve had the last few years.

Algonquin eateries Cucina Bella, Cattleman’s Burger and Brew, Whiskey and Wine and Bold American Fare recently requested village approval for loosened restrictions on outdoor dining for the season.

Be it a patio, rooftop or shared sidewalk, there are bound to be nearby restaurants where you can share great food and drinks outside with friends and family. Enjoy it while you can. It will be winter again before you know it.