Fresh sushi seems to taste better with an al fresco twist, which is why you’ll find appreciative crowds in the charming patio area at Friends Sushi, where the chef’s dozens of creative variations come alive in the great outdoors (710 N. Rush; 312/787-8998).
Over at the Hard Rock Café, meanwhile, the dining room décor of guitars and rock n’ roll memorabilia may be a big draw at other times of the year. But during the summer months, the burgers and beer seem to go down better with a view of the bustling sidewalks of River North from the rockin’ outdoor patio (63 W. Ontario; 312/943-2252).
Down at water level along the rapidly developing Chicago Riverwalk, meanwhile, the newly revitalized thoroughfare boasts a number of outdoor eateries to complement the wonderful skyline views. Stop for a bite at O’Brien’s Riverwalk Café on the south bank near Wabash Avenue to get an al fresco taste of this classic Old Town outpost on the river (45 E. Riverwalk South; 312/346-3131).
Finally, cap your day with a refreshing tropical drink at the newly opened Margaritaville Bar & Grill (600 E. Grand) on Chicago's Historic Navy Pier. Inspired by the travel and songs of Jimmy Buffett, Margaritaville Bar & Grill is a great place for anyone who wants to escape from the everyday, any day of the week.