Chicago: Lunch in the Sun

by anneMoore on June 15, 2011

After a particularly brutal winter and a long, cold spring we here in Chicago are desperate for sun and warmth. People stand at street corners or outside office buildings, faces lifted to the sun. Not waiting for the Rapture. Or sneaking a smoke. They’re jones-ing for a hit of sunshine.

So it’s understandable that we who work at desks seek out lunch spots in the sun.

A lunch meeting in the Loop the other day had me frantically searching for a tasty meal outdoors. I found one for us, beside the Chicago River. Newly opened this spring, Bridge House Tavern (321 N. Clark St.) offers a long, attractively furnished patio open to the sky. Tour boats pass, tourists wave, the river glows (from the sun!)

Salads, shared plates, entrees: theirs is a broad, enticing menu. We ordered sandwiches ($10 – $14) that were tasty and inventive (bacon milkshake anyone?) sided with thin-cut fries. Service was attentive. We’ll be back.

I brought my New York foodie friends for lunch in the sun at Floriole, a bakery and cafe at 1220 W. Webster St. Frittatas, tartines, pizzettes, salads, baguettes spread with butter and mustard, layered with ham and cheese. Fresh, organic, seasonal, locally sourced, prepared on site: pure and delicious. The cafe opens completely to the street, so even inside you’re outside. Too, their sidewalk tables offer a place in the sun.

More midday sun spots: Coco Pazzo Cafe (636 N. St. Clair St.) for sophisticated pastas, roast vegetables, salads. Also kissed by the sun, Trattoria Roma (1535 N. Wells St.) serves thin-crust pizza, crisp calamari, my favorite fennel salad, and big bowls of pasta.

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