BRIDGEPORT — Eating outside in Chicago is the glorious reward after enduring the cold grueling winter.
There’s the sunshine and cool breezes. The cocktails. The coffee. The boozy brunches. It feels downright cosmopolitan, even if you’re just, say, staring at 31st Street.
In the great spirit of al fresco dining, here’s a look at the local businesses that have applied for sidewalk permits in the Bridgeport area.
Bridgeport Coffee, 3101 S. Morgan St.
Enjoy sandwiches, soups and gourmet coffee while spotting hispters, old-timers and all other Bridgeport residents who gather at the popular corner coffee chop.
ChiSox Bar and Grill, 320 W. 35th St.
Formerly Bacardi at the Park, the restaurant adjacent to U.S. Cellular Field is open to fans with or without a ticket. Ribs, tall boy cans, burgers and cocktails.
Cork and Kerry at the Park, 3528 S. Princeton Ave.
Another quality option for pre- and post-Sox game partying. Sandwiches, wings, burgers and beer.
Kathy De’s Grocery and Deli, 3642 S. Parnell Ave.
Homemade soups, salads and subs — some made with ingredients from the DeCarlos' backyard garden — are available at this neighborhood favorite.
Nana Organic, 3267 S. Halsted St.
The Solis family has been hard at work erecting their outdoor courtyard, where diners can enjoy delicious kitchen creations. Perfect for brunching in Bridgeport and Sunday dinners.
Pancho Pistolas, 700 W. 31st St.
Enjoy margaritas and other Mexican favorites while taking in the glory of 31st Street, with Harvey’s diner, Freddie’s and Gianni’s cigars in view.
Turtles, 238 W. 33rd St.
The venerable Armour Square bar and grill provides more than the standard options. Patrons can find homemade specials like pork fajitas and baked clams to soak up the “Sunday Funday” Bloody Mary specials.
Of course, these are just the places that have applied for sidewalk cafe permits, which allow a restaurant to take over a part of the public sidewalk.
Restaurants can also apply for patio permits, which allow an establishment to serve food outdoors on their own property.
Factor those in, and the pool of outdoor options grows even larger.
In McKinley Park, diners can check out the the faux-beach splendor — and tasty fish tacos — of McKinley Park’s La Palapa.
The city has seen an 18 percent increase in permits for sidewalk cafes since 2010, according to Mika Stambaugh of the city's Department of Business Affairs, which processes the permits. The number of permits issued rose from 983 that year to top 1,000 in 2011 and on to 1,158 last year.
Stambaugh said the city has encouraged the expansion of sidewalk cafes through regular workshops on the application process, including ones in both January and February this year.
The city has a website explaining how a restaurant can request an application packet. According to Ald. Anthony Beale's office, a business can apply at any time of the year, but the permits cover a nine-month period from March 1 to Dec. 1 and have to be re-approved each year, at a minimum cost of $600 depending on the size and location of the sidewalk cafe.
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