I don’t know about you but when the weather gets above 50 degrees, I don’t want to eat inside of my house any longer. I don’t think it is a broad generalization to say that Lake County residents can handle eating outside when it’s sleeting sideways, raining, 100 degrees or there is a possible tornado threat in the next town. We are tough stock. I have been known to eat cheese fries in 40 degree weather at a picnic table WITHOUT mittens as not to get in the way with aforementioned cheese fry eating. So when doing research for this article, it didn’t come as any surprise to me that our county loves a good outdoor eating area. Which is why I had to make tough choices and narrow down my list because this was becoming a novel. Who knew that there would be so many options to choose from?? Here are some options of where you can dine AND be at one with nature.
950 Hillside Avenue, Antioch | (847) 395-3939
This restaurant features an amazing patio with covered umbrellas and even boasts a gorgeous stone fireplace. Known for their pizza, their burgers and appetizers are pretty good as well. The restaurant also doubles as a sports bar but is very family friendly and clean.
Egg Harbor Cafe
125 West Main Street, Barrington | (847) 304- 4033
512 North Western Avenue, Lake Forest | (847) 295-3449
300 Village Green, Suite #100, Lincolnshire
125 Lake Street, Libertyville | (847) 680-3610
I may have an Egg Harbor problem in that there isn’t one close enough to my place of residence. Or maybe that is a good thing. In any case, if you have never been to an Egg Harbor Cafe, you need to rectify that this summer because they have plenty of outdoor seating and they have several locations in Lake County. The Barrington location is the newest, and just on the border of Lake and Cook counties, and is very pretty to look at, so go, look, see, and eat!
El Puerto Mexican Restaurant
200 Forest Avenue, Fox Lake | (847) 973-1370
This restaurant has probably one of my favorite patios and views in Lake County. In fact, the picture above was taken from El Puerto’s patio. The restaurant is tucked into a neighborhood, so get your GPS ready as it is kind of hard to find. Oh and the margaritas are AH-mazing. The food is good too, you know, for the children because LITTLE Lake County. Ahem.
Emil’s Tavern On Center
161 Center St, Grayslake | (847) 543-8879
Emil’s Sports Bar & Pizzeria
604 N Lake St, Mundelein | (847) 566-8879
Grayslake thinks they have the only Emil’s. They don’t. Emil’s started in Mundelein years before and it also has a patio but since I had to make hard choices, I am giving my favorite Emil’s to Grayslake because they have a really nice courtyard that not a lot of people seem to know about. It is in between two buildings, brick with little white lights, all city-like. The pizza here is really good and our kids love this place. I think yours will as well.
6102 West Grand Avenue Gurnee | (847) 264-5060
Now before all you food snobs get all up in my grill (get it, grill??) about this one, I have a few things to say to that. 1- if you are a food snob and don’t like Portillo’s, you must be eating the wrong things there and 2- THEY HAVE A PATIO AT OUR PORTILLO’S! That is huge, friends! Do you not realize the magnitude of this? I do believe, as of right now, we are the only Portillo’s in the Chicago area that has a patio. Which means Lake County residents can now sit and enjoy their beef and chocolate cake on a patio while listening to the sounds of the tollway. Man, are we lucky or are we lucky?
Tacos El Durango
3900 Washington Street, Gurnee | (847) 596-2580
This place has literally two tiny tables outside its entrance so that is how it officially made my list. But you could also take the kids down the street to the amazing Warren Township park we talked about here . Voila! Outdoor eating at its most original! But seriously, I needed to tell you about this place because I was afraid you were still mad at me for the whole unoriginal Portillo’s debacle and the food is authentic Mexican and really pretty amazing.
431 Sheridan Road, Highwood | (847) 432-0301
We have been taking the kids here for years and my husband has been going here since his high school days. Buffo’s is known for their pizza but it is their burgers and fries that keep me going back (order a side of cheese for the fries). Their outdoor patio is right on Sheridan, so perfect for people watching and the kids will love the cars whizzing by. While you are waiting for your food, head inside and introduce your children to old school video games, our daughter’s favorite part of the restaurant. The lake is just a block away and the Highland Park shopping district is only a five-minute drive south.
Caputo Cheese Market
231 East Wisconsin Avenue, Lake Forest | (847) 482-0100
Take the kids here to see all the cheeses and meats as well as get a good old-fashioned sub sandwich. Then eat out in the beautiful brick courtyard. Lake Forest is a gem that should be treasured. Stroll the beautiful streets and look at the houses, shops and take in the history. If you have some time, go to the local flower shop pick up a little posy and pay your respects at John Hughes’ grave. If you don’t know who that is, stop reading this and hit your head on a hard surface.
Reflections on Deep Lake
38564 North Edgewood, Lake Villa | (847) 265- 4170
Okay, I take it back. THIS place is one of the best views for dining in Lake County. When it isn’t another one down the list. I told you I had a hard time with making choices! You will want to sit on the deck of this restaurant and eat their amazing Polish food for hours. When the nice people politely tell you that you need to leave, gently tell them that its been a while since you have gotten away from the children and you haven’t heard your inner thoughts in years. They will feel for you. Go here for a date night but not on OUR date night because we are also trying to hear our inner thoughts as well.
1229 West Park Avenue, Libertyville | (847) 362-8343
I realize there is an entire street called Milwaukee Avenue that has outdoor restaurants up the wahoo. I am not adding them to my list because I had to make serious cuts. I have been to many of those restaurants, this one however, is my must stop in Libertyville especially when you are with the kids. Dairy Dream is an institution, one of those places that has been around for ages (since 1961) and you hope will be around even longer. Their ice cream is something we crave every summer (don’t forget the rainbow sprinkles) but they also have food too and plenty of outdoor seating as well as a walking path right behind the restaurant if you care to take a stroll with your family to walk off that ice cream afterwards. We’ve been known to walk with our ice cream, but you do you.
1913 East Grand Avenue, Lindenhurst | (847) 356-2300
This place feels like you are eating on somebody’s back deck; they even have sand volleyball. With lake views and sand volleyball, you will almost forget you are in Lake County for just a moment. It is the honking horns from the traffic on Grand that will bring you back to reality but no worries, you have great weekly specials, lots of alcoholic drinks for the adults and on Tuesday nights, kids eat for $2.99. Pass the Corona.
Franks for the Memories
645 East Hawley Street, Mundelein | (847) 949- 9464
My all time favorite wing place ever. EVER. Go for the wings and the fries. Make sure you ask for extra ranch. Trust me on this, I would never steer you wrong.
850 North Milwaukee Avenue, Vernon Hills | (224) 513- 0300
Brand new to the Mexican chain restaurant scene, this is a keeper. The staff is attentive, the atmosphere is so welcoming and the food is amazing. It made the list for many reasons: their patio is one of the better patios in Lake County AND it has heaters which is needed with the weather in our area; my parents took me here recently for my birthday and I can attest to everything I said above; and lastly, the table side guacamole? Unreal. I assume they can do table side guacamole on the patio, so that is what I am doing this summer. Going ON that patio and eating MASS quantities of that table side guacamole. See you there.
The Terrace at Siver Place ***Editor’s Note: NOW CLOSED
175 Harbor Place, Waukegan | (224) 637-8222
This place, THIS PLACE. I found this restaurant last year on a Chicago website via Facebook and only because of the picture of the patio alone. It was stunning. STUNNING. I knew I had to go there. I haven’t been there….yet. Our 10 year anniversary is coming up and I know this is the place I want to go because this is absolutely perfect. The twinkling lights, the white tents, the atmosphere is almost magical and it is on the lake, could this get any better? Oh yes it can, the menu is apparently to-die-for. Which I always hate using that description for food, but a lot of reviewers have, so I feel fairly confident in my preceding diners that this place is safe. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays; their hours are all over the board and they don’t have a website any more, which adds even more to its mystical flair! I love a challenge. Hours, as of publication: Sunday and Monday: closed; Tuesday 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. only; Wednesday 11:00 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.; Thursday: 11:00- 2:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.; Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and Saturday: 11:00- a.m.- 2:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
I would love to hear what your favorite outdoor restaurants are in our county. Then I would love to hear of the closest Weight Watchers chapter that I will undoubtedly need by summer’s end. But it will be totally worth it.
Let us know of your family’s favorite place to dine outside in Lake County in the comments section below.