A challenger to Chicago’s supremacy for outdoor dining? C’mon man! Nobody comes close to Chicago when it comes to food… including New York!

When the Big Apple called Chicago “The Second City,” it inspired culinary greatness. But now it’s Chicago that has inspired greatness, and it’s coming from the least likely of places. Today, you’ll discover the ultimate guide to outdoor dining. Hey, Chicago, da best is over dare!

Hey, Noo Yawk… Nobody Does It Better than Chicago?

Gene and Georgetti raised the steaks in Chicago in 1941. The legendary restaurant’s steak, chops & seafood infused with Tuscan flavors helped define Chicago’s culinary scene.


My kind of town! From deep-dish pizza to Gene and Georgetti’s legendary steak …. the chip on the shoulder attitude was the driving force that allowed Chicago to take anything New York does, and make it better. Chicago didn’t stop with making the food better, they made the experience better. Chicago is a friendly city with a strong international influence. The second city status inspired a cultural movement.

Hey, Noo Yawk… Nobody does it better than Chicago? No way – fuhgeddaboudit!


Da Best Outdoor Restaurants?   …Fuhgeddaboudit!

Well, now it’s Chicago that loves to brag! Along with the Windy City’s great cuisine comes swagger. Chicago is the best and they’ll let you know at every turn. So if Chicago is numero uno, who is the new Second City? Valparaiso—that’s who! While Valpo and Chicago have both mastered the art of infusion cuisines—combining international cuisine with the American palate—Valparaiso is raising the bar through innovative outdoor restaurants. Today you’ll discover the ultimate guide to outdoor dining.

Sorry, Chi-CAW-go! Da best is over dare…in Valpo!

In Valpo, a Great Outdoor Dining Experience must have this Ingredient

Radius Chef Chris Pavlou

According to Radius’ Chef Chris Pavlou, “The secret ingredient to Valparaiso’s attraction is pairing great food with high-energy fun.” Growing up in the shadows of Gene and Georgetti’s in the heart of Chicago’s River North,  Pavlou was impressed by Gene and Georgetti’s Chicago-Tuscan-infused cuisine along with the ambiance and ability to capture Chicago’s unique culture and tradition.   The warm hospitality is what inspired Pavlou the most.

“You never knew who you might see at Gene & Georgetti’s. It is where you go to see and be seen. They attracted celebrities, politicians, and famous athletes because they capture the essence of Chicago’s tradition and culture. It’s more than great food, it’s a great experience!”

Gene & Georgetti raised the steaks in Chicago. Valpo’s Chef Pavlou was inspired by the legendary steakhouse.

Pavlou’s restaurants, which include Radius and the new Maple + Bacon, have clearly tapped into Chicago’s culinary influence. His award-winning Radius was established in the heart of Valparaiso, where outdoor dining fans love to see and be seen. The front of the house captures Valpo’s unique culture and includes a wall of fame that displays images of local personalities and Chicago’s famous. Even Pavlou’s warm hospitality was inspired by Gene and Georgetti.

But when it comes to Pavlou’s cuisine and outdoor dining, Pavlou believes his restaurants have a special quality that’s unique to Valpo’s outdoor dining culture.

According to Pavlou, “While we are influenced by our Chicago neighbors, most of us were brought up with a chip on our shoulders. We became Chicago’s second city. The attitude that made Chicago work harder is now on us!”

Valparaiso’s Culture of Restaurants with Outdoor Seating attracted Chicago’s Best Restauranteurs


The Pikk's Outdoor Patio is remarkable!

Chicago Restauranteur & renowned Chef, Paul LoDuca, opened Pikk’s Tavern in front of the downtown amphitheater. Outdoor dining guests can dine while catching a live concert. Pikk’s is inspired by the great 1940s Chicago Taverns.

With culinary roots originating from Chicago, New York, Spain, Greece, Italy, Japan, and Mexico, Valparaiso’s chefs are winning over even the most pretentious foodies and critics with innovative flavors inspired by Valpo’s culture of restaurants with outdoor seating.

 Make no mistake about it, while Valparaiso’s chefs believe they can hold their own and even challenge Chicago’s culinary greatness, there is a tremendous amount of respect for Chicago’s remarkable restaurants. There is also a tremendous amount of crossover. Many of the chefs were brought up in Chicago or formally trained in the Windy City but were attracted to Valparaiso for its reputation for opportunity and innovation. But with Valpo’s close proximity to Chicago, many chefs split their time between Chicago and the award-winning community just 45 minutes east.

Infused Cuisine & Remarkable Wine Pairings | Restaurants with Outdoor Drinking

Chef Carlos changed Valpo with his International traditions and outdoor dining

Chef Carlos draws inspiration for creating new recipes with his insatiable drive to please his outdoor dining customers. 

Like Chicago before them,  infusing ethnic cuisines with Northwest Indiana and Chicago tradition is inspiring creativity.  In Valpo, food and wine have evolved around each restaurant’s unique outdoor culture and the techniques of each chef.  It is why wine pairing is so popular in Valparaiso.

But it’s the culture and traditions of music festivals, outdoor dining, and summer fun that draws inspiration to the Vale of Paradise!

Wine will go to the winning christmas tree with a sweepstakes for anyone that signs the Christmas Card. A Holiday Mirracle

According to Chef Carlos, who owned and operated numerous restaurants in Madrid, Spain before opening Don Quijote in Valpo in 1985, “Similar to Spain, Valpo’s traditions and culture are significant to each restaurant’s cuisine and patio menu. But the influence of al fresco dining has also inspired a wonderful list of wines.”

“Each restaurant carefully selects wines beyond traditional wine pairings. In fact, many of our guests prefer delicious stand-alone wines. While it’s the spirited atmosphere and international cuisine that put Valpo on the map, more and more people are visiting the Vale of Paradise for its restaurants with outdoor drinking.


Outdoor Dining. It Started 35 Years Ago with Bull Fighting in Valparaiso

outdoor dining was a tradition brought to Valpo from Spain. Carlos opened Don Quijote in 1986

While Valparaiso’s second-city attitude has been the impetus to its drive, like Chicago before them, the cuisine is an infusion of international cuisine with Northwest Indiana and Chicago culture.  Valpo’s outdoor dining started long before it was fashionable in Chicago, but initially, it was not well received by locals. In fact, many people in Valpo rejected it as well as the man that introduced it.

Like most cities in the ’80s, Valparaiso was losing its downtown restaurants and shops. When they wanted to shop or dine out, they went to Chicago. That all changed in 1986 when Carlos Rivero opened Don Quijote Restaurant in Valpo’s declining downtown.

Chef Carlos Rivero fell in love with a beautiful American and closed his restaurants in Madrid, Spain to be with her. As a second-generation Mediterranean chef, Rivero wanted to share his passion for Spanish food, wine, and the tradition of outdoor dining with his adopted country. But his European traditions were met with pushback.

When he asked the Mayor if he could put an outdoor patio in front of his restaurant, they argued that nobody would want to eat outside. When he suggested serving wild game to a reporter from Chicago, the Chicago Tribune wrote that the Spaniard was bringing bullfighting to Valparaiso. Some people didn’t give Don Quijote a chance at surviving and were placing bets on when Chef Carlos would close.

It is now 40 years later and Valparaiso is a destination for outdoor dining, international food, and remarkable wine. Don Quijote is Valpo’s oldest, most revered restaurant and Carlos is respected by even the most celebrated chefs in Chicago and the Midwest.

  Ironically, it was the newspapers that didn’t survive. I wonder what happened to the reporter? Maybe Carlos can offer him a job washing dishes.

Valpo’s Outdoor Dining Grew with a New Generation of Courageous Chefs.

Jano Fest 2008 | The event that brought Valpo’s Chefs together for an Outdoor Culinary Event

Outdoor dining got a jump start in 2006 when a group of restaurants came together to create the “Jano Concerts on the Square.” It was a free festival series that provided outdoor dining on the Court House lawn. Each festival showcased the culinary skills of Valpo’s talented chefs. Each festival was widely attended and a huge hit with people all over Northwest Indiana! It demonstrated that people love an alfresco experience in Valpo’s historic downtown.
The outdoor dining movement owes its origins to the Jano Festivals- A Grassroots festival created by Valpo Chefs and Businesses

According to the article, Uptown Helps Make Valpo Community a Great Place to Live, the Jano Festivals started off with humble beginnings. A band performed in front of the Porter County Court House without a stage. The restaurants lined the Court House lawn with tents, grills, burners, and small tables. While people enjoyed samples of each restaurant’s cuisine, the events would raise food and money for charity by raffling gift certificates to each restaurant. Each festival was unique with a theme worthy of an MLB ballpark. Every aspect of the festivals was grassroots and subsidized by local businesses.

Soon, word got out. People from all over the region were visiting Valparaiso for each festival. The first summer, they had seven festivals. The strategy worked! Valparaiso was building a brand that attracted restaurants from Lake County & Chicago. Valpo was becoming the destination.

A Destination for Great Chefs and People that Love Dining Al Fresco

The Lobster Taco is perfect for a tropical state of mind at Veleros.

The chip-on-your-shoulder attitude of Valpo’s chefs might make you think these chefs are cut-throat competitors, but on the contrary, it makes them stronger and better. Unlike many cities that knock each other down at every opportunity, these restaurants help and support each other. When Chef Danny Hwang of Furin brought his Japanese knife mastery to Valparaiso, he was welcomed for his ability to elevate Valpo’s portfolio. The other restaurants helped make Hwang and his family feel welcomed and loved sharing posts of their authentic Japanese cuisine on social media. These days, it’s trendy to say you serve sushi, but with Furin Japanese, Valparaiso’s portfolio became legit.

Furin’s Chef Danny brings Japanese mastery and a warm smile to Valpo.

More recently, Chris Pavlou opened Radius in downtown Valpo. Like Carlos before him, nobody gave Pavlou’s restaurant a chance when he opened—with the exception of none other than Rivero himself! Carlos stood shoulder to shoulder with Pavlou and helped him get through a turbulent start. Pavlou’s innovative burgers and high-energy atmosphere helped him win numerous awards and has been featured by Chicago media, ABC, and Fox News.

Valpo’s Outdoor Restaurants came together when the World was Divided

But the true character of Valparaiso’s unique outdoor dining scene happened at the offset of COVID. The restaurants called a grassroots meeting to discuss mitigation. With fear and panic in the air, many restaurants around the country believed it was a dog-eat-dog situation. One of the restaurants in attendance demanded community funds should be liquidated and given to them for expenses. They insisted it was every man for themselves. Ironically, only two restaurants in attendance shared this view. All the other restaurants decided they would stand shoulder-to-shoulder and come out the other side together.

It was inspiring! Everyone there offered ideas and resources for helping each other.  Sophie and Louie Kalapitis of Martinis had the largest refrigerator and food inventory in Valpo. They offered their competition their reserves and even offered to store them for them. The selfless attitude of the dynamic duo was contagious. Everyone in the meeting began offering ways of supporting each other.  When most people were hoarding food with fears of a supply chain crisis, these restaurants were determined they would stand together and come out the other side better than ever!

Most of these restaurants survived, with the exception of the restaurant owner that demanded it was every man for himself.

Gold Rush!  Beyond Restaurants with Outdoor Seating

Chefs from California are finding Valparaiso's outdoor dining a great place to bring their cuisine


Even Restaurants from the west coast are pursuing opportunities in Valparaiso. Restauranteur Steve Niemela of Palm Springs, California recently set up Smoketown Blues in downtown Valpo. According to, Niemela, “It’s surprising that Chicago has never developed a unique style of BBQ. People in Chicago love their outdoor dining and they love authentic cuisine. The sweet aroma of our brisket and BBQ is part of the experience. But in the restaurant industry, you test the market before going big, and Valpo’s diverse following of innovative cuisine and al fresco dining aligned perfectly with our goals.”

Valpo’s ability to attract Chicago foodies to its outdoor patio restaurants impressed Niemela.  Much like Chicago’s Uptown and River North, people love to walk around Valparaiso and let the scent of fresh food determine where they want to eat. Niemela believes the aroma of our blue smoke is hard to resist. “We think the smell of traditional southern BBQ and brisket is as much of the Smoketown Blues experience as the fresh ingredients, home-made sauces, and smoke-kissed flavors.”

But while Niemela was initially attracted to Valpo as a test market, he also discovered the synergy between Valparaiso and Chicago also made it the ideal market for eCommerce food delivery.

Mother Ramsey is making Valparaiso its home. The online bakery & curated marketplace of gourmet food & gift baskets. It will leverage Chicago & Valpo’s chefs and distribution.

But while Niemela was initially attracted to Valpo as a test market, he also discovered the synergy between Valparaiso and Chicago also made it the ideal market for eCommerce food delivery.

According to Niemela, “Valparaiso is positioned perfectly for growing beyond a destination for patio restaurants. Chicago is the nation’s top culinary market and transportation hub. We couldn’t be more excited to announce we are launching Mother Rasmsey’s Bakery | Food and Gift Basket.  Mother Ramsey’s is a scratch bakery & curated marketplace of gourmet food.  We think Mother Ramsey found the perfect home!”

Valpo’s Outdoor Dining Grew with a New Generation of Courageous Chefs.

Jano Fest 2008 | The event that brought Valpo’s Chefs together for an Outdoor Culinary Event

Outdoor dining got a jump start in 2006 when a group of restaurants came together to create the “Jano Concerts on the Square.” It was a free festival series that provided outdoor dining on the Court House lawn. Each festival showcased the culinary skills of Valpo’s talented chefs. Each festival was widely attended and a huge hit with people all over Northwest Indiana! It demonstrated that people love an alfresco experience in Valpo’s historic downtown.

According to the article, Uptown Helps Make Valpo Community a Great Place to Live, the Jano Festivals started off with humble beginnings. A band performed in front of the Porter County Court House without a stage. The restaurants lined the Court House lawn with tents, grills, burners, and small tables. While people enjoyed samples of each restaurant’s cuisine, the events would raise food and money for charity by raffling gift certificates to each restaurant. Each festival was unique with a theme worthy of an MLB ballpark. Every aspect of the festivals was grassroots and subsidized by local businesses.

Soon, word got out. People from all over the region were visiting Valparaiso for each festival. The first summer, they had seven festivals. The strategy worked! Valparaiso was building a brand that attracted restaurants from Lake County & Chicago. Valpo was becoming the destination.

Patio Menu Deals | Just ask for the Chicago Outdoor Dining Special

The only thing that can top a great outdoor dining experience is when it comes with special food and drink offers. To help entice you, a bunch of chefs that call themselves the Valpo Restaurant Group have created a special patio menu just for you! Just visit this link to discover each chef’s outdoor dining food and drink specials. The food specials are called the “Chicago” and a drink special called the “Valparaiso.” Ask for them by name.

The specials are listed on the Valpo Restaurant site. Here is the link. OUTDOOR DINING SPECIALS.  Just visit this link and scroll down to each restaurant’s offering. You’ll find it fun exploring these specials each time you’re in the mood for some al fresco happiness.

Happiness Is…Outdoor Dining!

Pikk's is one of the restaurants with outdoor seating and a great view of Central park

Pikk’s Tavern has an excellent view of Central Park Concerts and one of NWI’s best restaurants with outdoor seating.

Guide to Outdoor Dining | 2023 Edition


Meet Da’ Best…


Inspired over a Cup of Coffee with Valpo’s Legendary Restauranteur

Valparaiso’s newest breakfast restaurant with outdoor seating, Maple + Bacon has a backstory, and it’s a good one. It started when Chris Pavlou  (Radius)  called me to see if I was interested in meeting him and legendary restauranteur Bill Wellman for coffee. As a child growing up in a culinary family, Pavlou always considered Wellman an icon and a hero. Getting together with these characters is always memorable. This would turn out to be a day Pavlou and I would never forget!

If you’re not familiar with Wellman, he was a WWII hero who came back to Valpo after the war and went on to become a legendary promoter, author, and restauranteur. Celebrities would come to Valpo just to dine and perform at his venues. Anyone from Northwest Indiana knew Wellman as the man with a golden touch!

Jim Jano, Chris Pavlou and Bill Wellman

It was over a cup of coffee that morning that Wellman said, “Chris, Valpo needs a great brunch restaurant and you’re just the person to do it! If you can create the same high-energy atmosphere in a brunch restaurant as you have with Radius, you have a hit”

It was the last time we saw Bill Wellman. The restaurant Hall of Famer died shortly after we met. Pavlou was determined to make good on his hero’s request.

Maple + Bacon’s Breakfast with Outdoor Seating

The Maple and Bacon is as good as billed

A characteristic of Pavlou Restaurant Group venues is their high-energy atmosphere,  great service, and award-winning food. At Maple and Bacon, you’ll find all of this and more! Pavlou positioned his innovative breakfast, brunch, and coffee lounge in Aberdeen, Valpo’s growing Southside.

M+B has two distinctive menus, a “sharable menu” and a regular menu. They are both fun! The upscale breakfast menu includes traditional breakfast items, like pancakes, waffles, signature omelets, and chops & eggs. There is also a breakfast sandwich, a club sandwich, and a healthy lineup to keep you fit and running all day!

Fans of Radius will recognize M+B’s candied bacon. It’s equally amazing when drizzled with what else? Real organic maple syrup!

Patio Dining and Breakfast Made Fun!

Maple + Bacon’s Pancakes

The Maple + Bacon menu is diverse and perfect for patio dining! Just look at some of the offerings. Cinnamon Crunch French Toast. Avacado BLT  and Hash-A-Bowls.

Biscuits and gravy are the M+B specialty. Want to spice it up?  Chorizo biscuits & Gravy with Jalapeno biscuits.  For the best eggs benedict in town, order the “Friends with Benefits.”  There’s even a breakfast taco! Everything at this Aberdeen restaurant is natural and everything is fun.

The Maple+Bacon brunch menu will include everything on the breakfast menu, plus such crowd-pleasers as a club sandwich, and a burger called the morning glory. You can even order the legendary Radius Prime Burger!

Experience Brunch on the Outdoor Patio with a Mimosa or Bloody Mary!
Maple + Bacon's bloody mary with brunch at this restaurant with outdoor drinking

Maple + Bacon’s full bar includes bloody marys, mimosas, wine, and a mix of culinary cocktails rooted in seasonal ingredients. With ten tap lines and an array of bottles, M+B is a favorite with fans of craft beer.

Meeting friends for brunch? How about a drink after a round of golf? Perhaps it’s a power lunch with business associates? M+B’s bar area and outdoor patio can add a touch of class to any occasion.

The sizzle! | Valpo’s newest outdoor sensation offers breakfast, brunch, coffee express, and outdoor dining with a bar. The liquor bar includes bloody mary, mimosa, craft beer, and wine. Cheers! 


Visit the Maple + Bacon Page on the Valpo Restaurant Site | Visit the Maple + Bacon  Website.


Smoketown Blues | Valpo’s Outdoor Dining Goes “Up” in Smoke!

Two slabs of delicious BBQ spare ribs with dipping sauce are perfect for Outdoor dining

Just when we thought Valparaiso’s outdoor dining was as good as it gets, everything went up in smoke! By “up,” we mean better, and by “smoke,” we mean “blue smoke.” But before you think Chicago is opening its dispensaries in Valparaiso, let me clarify. A new restaurant named Smoketown Blues has elevated Valpo’s claim as the best destination for outdoor dining (Sorry again, Chicago) with a fresh take on traditional southern BBQ.

Everything about this restaurant is fresh and natural, and it owes its remarkable flavors to its blue smoke. We first learned about this innovative restaurant from Radius’ owner Chris Pavlou. Pavlou stopped by the new restaurant to welcome them and let them know the Valpo Restaurant Group could be counted on if they needed anything. Known for his own Radius BBQ sauce, Pavlou was all praise for the new restaurant, especially the quality of meats and smoke-kissed flavors of this fine-dining restaurant. According to Pavlou, Valpo’s outdoor dining stature just got better!

The Story Behind “Blue Smoke”

Homemade Smoked Barbecue Beef Brisket with Sauce

Most great restaurants have an inspiring story, and Smoketown Blues is right up there with the best of them. Even their name has a cool backstory! According to its owner, Steve Niemels, “Smoketown Blues owes its name to the clean fire and thin blue smoke that gives this remarkable cuisine its delicious character.” The California native describes Blue Smoke as a “fire optimized to the perfect temperature, which has the appearance of blue smoke.”

The blue smoke gives Southern BBQ that familiar, delicious characteristic that makes the flavors of Smoketown Blues so unique!

But there’s more to love about our newest member of the Valparaiso Restaurant scene—especially its outdoor dining.

Re-Defining Alfresco

outdoors and a slab of ribs at Smoketown Blues


Alfresco is typically meant to describe outdoor dining, but it owes its origins to the Italian word for “fresh.” No word better describes this innovative restaurant! Everything about Smoketown Blues is fresh. It starts with Chef Mireya’s ingredients. As the executive chef, Mireya carefully selects her ingredients to assure quality and freshness. Everything on the menu seems to come from local farmers. The sauces are made from scratch using fresh ingredients. Next comes the magic. The ribs, brisket and other premium meats are covered with the house-crafted BBQ sauces and smoked to perfection over the Southernwood blue smoke.

But Mireya’s talents go beyond her remarkable sauces. The chocolate cake is Chef Merya’s specialty, made from real cocoa!

But part of the Smoketown Blues experience is the al fresco experience. Both the patio dining area and the bar’s tall tables overlook Valpo’s Central Park Amphitheatre. Whether it’s a live concert or a city festival, Smoketown Blues is one of Chicagoland’s best restaurants with outdoor seating.   Patio sauces....smoketown Blues Sauces come on the side and a special treat for alfresco dining


Need more convincing? Just check out some of Smoketown Blues’ house-crafted BBQ sauces, like the Cherry Chipotle, Tennessee Whiskey, and Honey Habanero. For visitors of Chicago that need directions, just park anywhere in downtown Valpo and follow your nose. You’ll love where it takes you!


The sizzle | Best outdoor dining experience during a live concert. Great beer and wine selection. BBQ combines a unique balance of the finest meats, smoke-kissed flavor, locally farmed ingredients, signature sauces, spice blends, and woods sourced from the South. Premium cuts of meat and house-crafted BBQ sauces like Cherry Chipotle, Honey Habanero, and Tennessee Whiskey.


Visit the Smoketown Blues Menu on the Valpo Restaurant Site | Visit the Smoketown Blues Website.

pikks outdoor dining! A top pick for northwest indiana dining and innovation.

Pikk’s Tavern | Outdoor Dining That Raises the Steaks!


Chef Paul Loduca opened Pikk’s Tavern, a 1940s Chicago Tavern Steakhouse, as a progression of his Chicago restaurants and heritage.  Chef Paul operates several restaurants in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, including Adobo Grill on North Ave and Vinci Italian Restaurant on North Halsted. LoDuca’s outdoor space was influenced by the restaurants in Old Town.

The outdoor dining at Pikk’s is the best seat in Downtown Valparaiso during a live concert at Central Park. It’s like having a VIP box at a world-class venue! While watching a music performance is always remarkable from Pikk’s Tavern’s outdoor dining area, the real star attraction is the food and drinks.

The Pikk's Outdoor Patio is remarkable!

The Pikk’s Outdoor Patio is remarkable!

Chef Paul Loduca just might be one of my favorite Chefs ever! Loduca’s innovation was inspired by his father, a renowned Chicago area chef & restauranteur. If you’re looking for a classic Chicago dinner, Pikk’s “raises the steaks.” When it comes to Ribeye, New York Strip, and Filet Mignon, Loduca brings his Chicago talents to Valpo’s remarkable outdoor dining scene.

Other popular entrees include Plank Salmon (Citrus-pecan butter with broccoli), Shrimp Diablo (linguine tossed with shrimp, tomatoes garlic, chile-infused olive oil, parmesan), Fish Tacos (Beer battered tilapia with cabbage, pico de gallo, chipotle mayo, Mexican rice), Ribs (Hickory-charred with fries & coleslaw), Fish & Chips (beer-battered fish with fries, coleslaw, malt vinegar, and Pikk’s tartar), Fish Tacos (Beer battered tilapia with cabbage, pico de gallo, chipotle mayo, Mexican rice), and for fans of authentic Italian, the Rigatoni (Vinci’s tomato sauce, meatballs, mozzarella). LoDuca uses his recipe and sauces from his Italian Restaurant Vinci’s on North Halsted in Chicago’s Old Town.



Celebrate Chicago style. Pikk’s Tavern…a cut above

Pikk’s Outdoor Restaurant Seating Is Just as Remarkable on a Gorgeous Summer Day as It Is on Date Night!


Pikk's outdoor restaurant seating

Pikk’s Potato Skins. Chef Paul LoDuca’s cuisine is celebrated in both Chicago’s Old Town & Valparaiso.


Pikk’s Tavern is perhaps the most innovative restaurant I’ve been to. The spot hosts a 1940s Chicago Tavern theme with a transfusion of American, Italian, and Mexican cuisine. The background music adds volumes of coolness thanks to well-engineered acoustic treatments!

Pikk’s outdoor restaurant seating is the best view in Valparaiso. With tables, lounge chairs, and the best view for a live concert, the Pikk’s outdoor dining experience is extraordinary!

The Legendary Pikk’s Tavern Burger


The Pikk’s Tavern Burger is cooked over charcoal with mesquite, The smoked wood adds amazing flavor to burgers and steaks.

Paul LoDuca was one of the original restaurateurs to support festivals and build Valparaiso’s reputation as a destination for outdoor dining. His vision paid off. According to the article, Uptown helps Make Valpo Best, “After five years of holding numerous festivals every summer, the City built a permanent structure called the Central Park Amphitheater and started having its own festivals.” Pikk’s position across the street from the Central Park Amphitheatre makes it the best seat in town during a live concert or festival.

Pikk’s Paul Loduca shares his culinary secrets at a local fundraiser. Loduca helped start Valpo’s outdoor dining movement!

With a gorgeous view of a live concert, the outdoor experience at Pikk’s is as good as it gets. The combination of the Pikk’s Tavern Burger, Potato Skins, and a craft beer became renowned with visitors from Chicago. The Tavern Burger is prepared over charcoal-mixed wood chips, a choice of fresh cheese, caramelized onions, applewood smoked bacon, and fries. For fans of filling up tables with appetizers, offerings like Mini Burgers are sure to satisfy! They come with Pikk’s famous blue cheese and caramelized onions. Other popular choices for sharing include calamari (fried calamari, spicy tomato sauce, tartar) and oysters, which can be ordered fresh or grilled.

Pikk’s is also a destination for craft beer fans. Just sit at the bar, order a delicious Tavern Burger, and start sampling. Cheers!


The sizzle! | Outdoor Seating in front of Central Park and Concerts. 1940s Chicago Tavern Theme, Steaks, Wine List, Cocktails, Craft Beer, Bed & Breakfast overlooking Downtown

Visit the Pikk’s Menu on the Valpo Restaurant Site | Visit the Pikk’s Website.




Aftermath | The Wild Card of Valpo’s Patio Restaurants
aftermath Cidery is the wild card of Valpo's ourtdoor dining scene


To be a challenger to Chicago’s great outdoor dining scene requires cultural diversity. It also needs a wild card. A place to go that throws caution to the wind and breaks the status quo. In Valparaiso, we have such an establishment and it goes by the name, Aftermath Cidery & Winery

Everything about Aftermath breaks convention. They make their own wine in Valparaiso from grapes from around the world. If the wine has a wild sibling, it’s probably hard cider. Aftermath ciders are made from Indiana Apples -also produced right here in Valparaiso.

But Aftermath Cidery & Winery offers much more than the refined, award-winning wines they create. Aftermath has a wild side!

The Patio Menu has a Wild Side!
The Mega slushy is a wonderful cocktail while dining out doors

For many folks, no visit to Valpo is complete without stopping by Aftermath for a Mega Slurpy. The Mega Slushies are legendary as a stand-alone treat or an exclamation point to a wonderful night of outdoor dining. But be warned, the Aftermath slushies change monthly, so size the moment! Like life itself, if you don’t stop, it might pass you by. While choosing which slushy to get is half the fun, newbies looking for a popular choice might want to start with the Cubbie Bear Cherry. This cocktail is so popular, it found a permanent place on the Aftermath menu.

Other popular drinks include handcrafted mocktails and craft beer offerings. The food menu includes appetizers, salads, chicken wings, and an assortment of pizzas.

Pizzas include pepperoni, veggie, BBQ Chicken, and the Buffalo Chicken.  For the ultimate pizza trifecta, order the chicken, bacon, and ranch on a crispy crust with a glass of cider during a live performance.

Al Fresco Dining | Inside and Out


Everything Aftermath does seems to be without boundaries, so it might not surprise you that the front of the house opens up in Washington Street for an open-air experience. With Aftermath’s open front, you feel a seamless
the transition from indoors to outdoors.

Then there is the live music! Nothing can top sampling a flight with friends in this ultra-cool atmosphere.

Aftermath is also a great place to meet friends before or after a concert or festival at Central Park Amphitheatre, which is only a few hundred feet away.  If you love wine, culture, and spirited fun, you’ll love everything about Aftermath Cidery & Winery.

The Rockstar of this Outdoor Restaurant

Nicole Caylor is putting Valpo’s wine & cider on the map!

While Aftermath has many options and offerings, make no mistake about it, the Rockstar at Aftermath is the wine and cider.

Aftermath Cidery produces a variety of unique ciders that are made with local ingredients and traditional cider-making techniques. Their ciders range from dry and crisp to sweet and fruity, and they often incorporate flavors like maple, ginger, and honey.

Aftermath also produces wine in Valparaiso from select grapes from around the county. Carlos Rivero of Don Quijote is known for his legendary cellar. Rivero and the other chefs in Valpo love to recommend guests stop by Aftermath for an after-dinner drink. As a close community, these chefs know that the Aftermath Cidery and Winery is the perfect complement to any amazing outdoor dining experience. Cheers!

Great Musicians Love the Connection at This Intimate Outdoor Venue

The sizzle! | Winery and Cidery with Outdoor Dining. A great outdoor experience with an open-air front of the house. Ideally located on Washington St in the heart of Valpo’s Historic District. 


Visit the Aftermath Menu on the Valpo Restaurant Site | Visit the Aftermath Cidery & Winery’s Website.


Upscale Mexican Seafood & Wine Served Al Fresco

Veleros outdoor patio features guacamole as an outdoor favorite

Every once in a while, you run into a restaurant that’s a paradigm-breaker! Our next entry is one of those restaurants, and they are doing it with their fresh take on seafood using traditional Mexican as their vessel.
Even the restaurant’s name, Veleros Mexican Restaurant, is innovative and a perfect fit for its upscale seafood. Veleros is a Spanish word meaning, “a small sailing vessel.” We can’t think of a more appropriate name for a restaurant known as a vessel for its ultra-fresh seafood. The lobster taco and shrimp burrito pair perfectly with the remarkable selection of Spanish wines. The Veleros experience is reminiscent of a Caribbean cruise or vacation in Cancun. No passport is needed!

Of course, a ship needs a captain, and Veleros has a good one in entrepreneur Venni Valle. When Venni decided to share his Mexican pride through his restaurant, it had to be the best. His cuisine was upscale Mexican, his ingredients would come from local farmers and his seafood would need to be shipped daily. Even Venni’s chefs are imported from Chicago. Valle’s high standards and innovative cuisine made him a welcome member of the Valpo Restaurant Group.

With a tropical state of mind,  Veleros is the perfect addition to Valparaiso’s portfolio of great outdoor seating!

The Perfect Vessel for Lobster, Shrimp, and Seafood

Lobster Burrito an outdoor dining treat

Lobster Burrito

 Veleros’ biggest fans rave about the Lobster Burrito—lobster sauteed in garlic butter, corn relish jalapeño sauce, crispy onion, pico de gallo, lettuce, and queso fresco avocado. For lunch, I recommend the Pollo: a fresh taco shell with Amish chicken, topped with grilled corn relish, queso fresco, fresh cilantro, and avocado salsa.
Many entrees are served on a freshly made tortilla shell, but it’s the house specials that have more and more people talking! Choose from Mahi Mahi fish, lobster, octopus, shrimp, calamari, shrimp, and red snapper. Seafood is delivered daily while produce comes from Indiana farmers. Steak and braised beef short rib are carefully prepared, but traditional tacos made from hamburger meat don’t make the grade!

The Mexican Restaurant with Outdoor Drinking has its own Lager Beer

Try the Veleros Lager for a tropical state of mind

The carefully selected wine list pairs nicely with the Veleros menu. Of course, Mexican beer, margaritas, and cocktails are perfect for a vacation state of mind. For a special treat, order the Veleros Lager and escape reality!

No vacation would be complete without indulging in Veleros desserts! Go ahead and indulge! While Venni Valle’s high standards have earned the respect of his restaurant peers, it’s his family that has captured the hearts of the Valparaiso community. Venni and his wife Patricia along with their kids Ariana and Julian, love to volunteer for such charities as  The Caring Place and HillTop Neighborhood.

At the time of this publishing, Veleros Mexican was still in the process of opening its outdoor dining patio. Opening an outdoor patio in Valparaiso comes with high standards of compliance—but make no mistake. Veleros will make you feel like you’re on a vacation—indoors or outdoors!

The Sizzle | Upscale Mexican cuisine. Fresh seafood & wine, Entrees include Mahi Mahi fish, lobster, octopus, shrimp, calamari, shrimp, red snapper, Amish chicken, & steak. Renowned Chicago Chef Saul Chavez

Visit the Veleros Menu on the Valpo Restaurant Site | Visit the Veleros Website.


Martinis' in Valparaiso has a new logo for a newly remodeled restaurant-indoors and outdoors....fresh!

Martinis | A Fresh Take on Outdoor Dining


Valparaiso’s Original Scratch Kitchen also has its Most Diverse Patio Menu!

We think you’ll agree, when it comes to outdoor dining, people love variety. What can be better than an Italian restaurant that serves authentic dishes made from the freshest ingredients? Or maybe it’s a Greek restaurant, where the seafood is brought in fresh daily and the cuisine is prepared from scratch.

Of course, nothing beats a steakhouse for tender, flavorful, medium-rare filet mignon; cooked perfectly and perfectly seasoned.

Now imagine a modern, casual restaurant that combines all these restaurants under one roof, plus Northwest Indiana’s best outdoor dining experience. That’s what you’ll find at Martinis Restaurant.


A refreshing drink menu compliments the outdoor experience at Martinis’


Patio Dining for the Entire Family!

But don’t confuse this popular date night restaurant with a sports bar. Martinis has two modern dining spaces for the entire family. From a variety of hamburgers to hand-tossed pizza.

And as a family restaurant, Martinis has special prices for your kids. Nothing makes Louie & Sophie happier than welcoming families.

But it’s more than just family-friendly prices and a cool atmosphere that makes Martinis’ a great place to bring your family for patio dining. Chef Louie’s pizzas are inspired by the great New York pizzas he enjoyed growing up!

Martinis’ Restaurant Outdoor Seating Is the Perfect Rendezvous!

Martinis’ restaurant’s outdoor seating is the perfect rendezvous for friends and lovers. Nestled between the flowers and herbs, you’ll quickly forget you’re sitting on Calumet Avenue in the Vale of Paradise. In the Greek tradition, the herbs for your cocktail are freshly picked right before your eyes. The sound of the outdoor waterfall as background music serenades you will take your party away to an unforgettable experience. This cozy atmosphere is the perfect getaway and a top pick for alfresco dining fans from Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

The atmosphere is equaled by the fine selection of wines, culinary cocktails, and craft beer options. But make no mistake, the star attraction at Martinis’ is the fresh, handmade Mediterranean cuisine. At Martinis, you can be sure everything is prepared from scratch using the freshest ingredients. From authentic Greek to hand-tossed pizzas, Head Chef Louie is a hands-on owner that puts his signature on every dish. This Chef is as real as it gets!

Alfresco as defined by Martinis


People often search for the definition of “alfresco.” While al fresco dining,” is often defined as open-air dining, Chef Louie likes to include the word ‘fresh’ in his definition. But then again, this chef likes to include freshness in everything he does! He cooks from scratch using the freshest ingredients. His seafood is delivered every day and his menu is always evolving. If that’s not enough, the chef recently renovated Martinis inside & out. Even the Martinis outdoor dining space has a fresh new look for 2021!

‘Fresh’ is the quintessential component of everything this chef does.

Martinis' outdoor patio seamlessly flows outdoors

The Martinis’ patio is the largest in Valpo. The patio flows seamlessly to the remodeled interior.

So it shouldn’t surprise you that Chef Louie defines “dining al fresco” as lounging in the fresh air with fresh food, fresh wine, and good friends!

The sizzle! | Newly Renovated Restaurant with Refreshed Restaurant Outdoor Seating, Live Music, Outdoor Dining, Wine List, Tropical Cocktails, Craft Beer, Handmade Modern-American & Greek



Visit the Martinis’ Menu on the Valpo Restaurant Site | Visit the Martinis’ Website.

radius logo, outdoor dining

Radius | Valparaiso’s Award-Winning Restaurant with Outdoor Dining

Radius-Valpo was named Restaurant of the Year by South Shore Tourism in 2019 and Best Signature Burger at the Chefs of Steel Competition. But according to Chef Chris Pavlou, the biggest reward is the unbelievable reviews and tremendous following Radius earns online.

outdoor dining

Just drive by Radius and it’s sure to be jam-packed with happy, smiling people. The excitement must be contagious—or perhaps it’s just the Radius cocktails and delicious craft beer. But even the customers are nice! Ask people what they recommend and you’ll get an energetic answer. People love the Radius menu! You’ll find something for everyone… from signature sandwiches to the All-American Burger. Chris even has a huge following for his Keto menu!

Driven to Create a Remarkable Outdoor Dining Experience

The radius menu offers outdoor dining guests a great choice of burgers, sandwiches and dinners

The desire to innovate new recipes is driven by the insatiable drive to create a fresh experience for loyal fans. The food and drink menus change often because people anticipate innovation.

His creative recipes are especially popular with the outdoor dining crowd. Chef Chris considers himself an artist, and his burger the canvas. His creativity knows no bounds! The charismatic chef uses the freshest ingredients to infuse extraordinary cocktails and tropical drinks—perfect for a night of alfresco dining!

Radius | Valpo’s Best Bloody Mary Is Perfect for Outdoor Fun!



Live music is performed weekly at Radius. The restaurant with the best patio for socializing is high-energy.

The insatiable desire to please customers doesn’t stop with innovative recipes found in his diverse menu. Chef Chris set up his family restaurant in a location that is as extraordinary as his palette. Downtown Valpo’s historic district is a special place, and Radius has the best view in town for a little people-watching. Nothing beats al fresco dining at Radius!

That’s entertainment! The live entertainment at Radius taps into some of the region’s most gifted acts. Radius earned a top pick nomination for Valpo’s best music venue!

Everything about Radius is fun. Even waiting for an outdoor dining table can be an adventure! Radius recently doubled the size of its bar. So with a fresh selection of craft beer, cocktails, and delicious wines, waiting for outdoor seating is a delicious, fun experience!

Valparaiso’s Award-Winning Restaurant with Outdoor Drinking

Radius- Valpo-the seasonal cocktails are perfect for alfresco outdoor patio fun.

Radius-Valpo’s outdoor dining is legendary in Valparaiso. The award-winning restaurant has won virtually every award imaginable, from Best Burger to the Best Restaurant awards. But while food critics and foodie fans love Radius for its fresh menu, enthralling entertainment, and high-energy fun, Radius is also known as Valpo’s award-winning restaurant regarding outdoor drinking.

With so many season-fresh cocktails, craft beers, and wine options to pick from, illustrated below are a few tips for finding the perfect beverage for a perfect evening of alfresco fun!

Cocktails: Getting a seat at Radius is worth the wait. If you’re at the bar, stir up a little conversation with the Radius Bar Team. Chef Chris, Bartender Jenn, and the other bartenders collaborate in creating refreshing cocktails—and the enthusiasm shows. You’ll love the names and stories that surround these seasonal drinks! You’ll also find an assortment of cocktails being enjoyed by people outdoors. Maybe it’s something in the drinks—but people dining outdoors at Radius love to talk about the cocktails and offer up recommendations!

Craft Beers: With the ever-changing menu of seasonal craft beer, I like to use my smartphone to browse through the Radius drink menu. If you’re still not sure, or have it narrowed down to a couple crafts, the Radius server can help you decide.

Bloody Marys: The Radius Bloody Marys are to die for! I might once again recommend using the Radius website to select a Bloody Mary. The Radius website is easy to navigate and creates a great user experience. The homepage has an image carousel that includes images of the various Bloody Mary offerings. Furthermore, the drink menu has a dedicated page on the Radius website.


The sizzle! | Live Music, award-winning burgers, signature sandwiches, keto menu, Wine List, Tropical Cocktails, Craft Beer, Outdoor Seating, NWI Restaurant of the Year


Visit the Radius Menu on the Valpo Restaurant Site | Visit the Radius Website.


The Art Gallery | Café Cozy | Vacation Rental

Come for the Outdoor Dining… Stay for an Amazing Night!

Stay a little longer! As a destination for outdoor dining, part of Valparaiso’s appeal is its close proximity to Chicago. But all too often, visitors hold back. It’s a shame too, because Valparaiso has so many great outdoor dining restaurants and festivals. People often wish they could keep the party going or wish there was a hotel within walking distance of Valpo’s historic district.

Fans of outdoor dining, your wish has come true! Valpo now has a vacation rental in its historic district that will capture your heart and imagination. Just a few minutes walking distance from the heart of Valpo’s historic district,  Rocco and Tammy Rose Schiralli combine their cozy cafe and art gallery with a recently renovated RocCozy Inn. Located on the historic Lincoln Highway  (Lincolnway), this cozy vacation rental is a fresh and modern update, while retaining the charm of when it was built in 1900.

But in the tradition of Valparaiso’s other great restaurants with outdoor seating, The Schiralli Cafe Cozy is much more than great food, its a great experience. In fact, Schiralli was recently welcomed by Valpo’s top chefs to become a member of the Valpo Restaurant Group.

Café Cozy | Valpo’s Eclectic Restaurant with Outdoor Seating
schiralli outdoor dining is part of Valpo's cozy B&B

Everything about the Schiralli experience is artistic and eclectic, deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. You’ll find this in Schiralli’s architecture and design, Rocco’s art gallery, and Tammy’s Café Cozy.

Cafe Cozy | Tammy’s cuisine draws inspiration from her heritage, her garden’s fresh ingredients, and her passion for international cuisine. While many cooks follow recipes, Tammy’s cuisine is inspired by pleasing her guests with unique and fresh ingredients.

When Tammy and Rocco aren’t cooking, painting, or cleaning, they are on the road in passionate pursuit of finding the freshest ingredients, rare cheeses, and extraordinary wines. What Tammy serves is determined by what she discovers. From cheese plates of fresh, regional, and European cheeses to unique wine pairings that will satisfy both novices and connoisseurs.

To welcome visitors with taste, Tammy has an Outdoor Dining Special called the Chicago and a drink special aptly called the Valparaiso. The “Chicago” is a delicious cheese plate using the rare and wonderful cheeses discovered just days before while the “Valparaiso” is a glass of champagne worthy of a celebration. This remarkable pairing is perfect for relaxing on the outdoor patio or while touring Rocco Schiralli’s Gallery.

Start your Valparaiso Outdoor Dining with Friends!
schiralli's Cafe Cozy serves specials for Outdoor dining guests

Rocco & Tammy-Rose Schiralli are close friends with Valparaiso’s finest chefs and uniquely qualified to help you plan your visit. More and more people are finding it convenient to park their cars at the Inn, check in, and begin their adventure on foot. Everything is within walking distance of this authentic Valpo vacation rental.
schiralli B&B is the place to stay a little longer when outdoor dining doesn't want to end

Staying at the RocCozy Inn Vacation Rental can provide a more authentic and immersive experience of Valparaiso and the surrounding area. You can interact with locals, learn about the history and culture of the area, and wake up refreshed and ready for adventure!

Schiralli is also minutes from Valpo Univerity’s scenic campus with its international museum and recital hall. When you stay at the Schiralli Gallery and Vacation Rental, you are immersed in art, food, and wine. What else can you ask for?  Amare! (Enjoy!) Vivilo! (Live it up!)

The sizzle! | A great way to experience the local culture and history while enjoying personalized service and unique accommodations. Indulge and stay a little longer with the confidence that you are walking distance from your accommodations. 

Visit the Schiralli Menu on the Valpo Restaurant Site | Visit the Schiralli  Website.



mcgowan and son's seafood for your next weddinng

McGowan & Sons bring Remarkable Outdoor Dining to You!

Rob McGowan discovered his passion for Seafood in San Diego.


Francis Bacon wrote nearly 400 years ago, “If the Mountain won’t go to Mohammed, then Mohammed must come to the Mountain”.  Well, foodie fans, Rob McGowan of McGowan & Sons wants to update this expression with a Valpo twist! “If the customer won’t go to outdoor dining, then outdoor dining must come to the customer”.

Our newest restaurant to make our list of great outdoor patio restaurants isn’t technically a restaurant, and the outdoor dining setting is wherever you want it to be! But if this seems fishy, it should. McGowan & Sons Seafood and Provisions specializes in carry-outs and bringing the freshest seafood experiences to you; when you want, the way you want, and where you want.
McGowan & Sons seafood is perfect for backyard outdoor dining

From picking up crab cakes for your family to having a backyard outdoor dining experience with friends, McGowan & Sons are uniquely qualified to make fresh seafood an exclamation point to your next al fresco experience. If this seems unconventional, it should, because there is nothing conventional about McGowan & Sons, especially the cuisine!

Al Fresco Your Way!

McGowan & Sons seafood is for carry-out and delivery to your next backyard outdoor dining

While McGowan’s approach might seem unconventional by Midwest standards, the approach is common in America’s great seafood communities. McGowan discovered his seafood and provision establishment’s unique approach in his 30 years of spanning the globe. He served as a Line Cook, Sous Chef, and Executive Chef at a number of restaurants with specialties ranging from fresh seafood, California Cuisine, Cajun, Mediterranean, and New American.

The world-class chef developed his love of fresh seafood when he lived in San Diego. But as a dedicated family man, McGowan was ready to build a unique business model that would also allow him the ability to balance family, and teaching cooking, while combining his passion for cooking, fresh seafood, and inventive new menu items.

Backyard Outdoor Dining |  8 Reasons Why Your Guest Will Love Seafood on Your Patio!
Variety is a great reason to serve seafood at your outdoor event

So why trade up from a backyard picnic with burgers and hot dogs to a backyard outdoor dining experience with seafood? Seafood is a popular choice for backyard outdoor dining for several reasons:

#1 Freshness: Seafood is best when it’s fresh, and outdoor dining is a great way to enjoy it at its best. Many seafood dishes are prepared on the spot, such as grilled fish or seafood skewers, and can be served immediately, ensuring maximum freshness and flavor.

#2 Light and refreshing: Seafood is often light and refreshing, making it perfect for outdoor dining on warm summer days. Grilled shrimp or scallops, for example, make a delicious and healthy option that won’t weigh you down.

#3 Versatility: Seafood can be prepared in a variety of ways, from simple grilled fish to elaborate seafood boils, making it a versatile choice that can accommodate different tastes and preferences.
sushi from McGowan & Sons

#4 Easy to share: Seafood is often served in shareable portions, such as platters of oysters or clams, making it a great option for backyard parties and gatherings where people can help themselves and mingle.

#5 Convenience: Hiring McGowan & Sons will take a lot of the stress and work off your shoulders, allowing you to relax and enjoy the party with your guests. The caterers will handle everything from the menu planning and preparation to the setup and cleanup, so you can focus on hosting and entertaining.

#6 Professionalism: McGowan & Sons has the experience and expertise to create delicious and visually appealing dishes that are sure to impress your guests. They can also provide a professional presentation and service that will elevate the overall experience for your guests.

7. Variety: McGowan can offer a wide range of menu options to suit different tastes and dietary restrictions, so you can provide something for everyone. They can also provide suggestions and recommendations based on the occasion and the season.

8. Time-saving: Cooking for a large group of people can be time-consuming, especially if you want to make everything from scratch. Hiring a catering service will save you time and effort, allowing you to spend more time with your guests.

Overall, catering a backyard party can be a good idea if you want to provide your guests with delicious food and a memorable experience, while also taking some of the stress and work off your shoulders.

The sizzle! | Outdoor Dining when you want & where you want! Specialties range from fresh seafood, California Cuisine, Cajun, Mediterranean, and New American.

Visit McGowan & Son’s Website.

Valpo's don quijote- The restaurant that started outdoor dining

Restaurante Don Quijote | The Restaurant That Started Valpo’s Outdoor Dining

Chef Carlos and his warm-hearted partner, Elena Jambrina, always seem to put themselves last in everything they do. From their countless fundraisers, community leadership roles, and initiatives towards assisting Valpo restaurants succeed, Carlos & Elena represent the best of Northwest Indiana. Valparaiso is a much better place because of Chef Carlos and Elena. It’s also much more fun!

Carlos and Elena did more than just make Valparaiso a restaurant destination—they made it a cultural hub. They set a standard for fine dining and remarkable wines. Furthermore, they were the first to regularly offer live music. When people laughed at Chef Carlos’s idea to offer outdoor dining, Carlos simply smiled and tuned out the critics. Fortunately for fans of al fresco dining, Chef Carlos’s tenacity helped develop the outdoor dining culture that defines the Valparaiso we know today!

Mayor Jon Costas once said Valpo’s downtown is the heart of the city. When the heart beats strongly, the body is healthy. If the downtown is the heart of Valpo, Carlos is its soul.

More Than Just Outdoor Dining—It’s an Outdoor Culture with a Taste of the Mediterranean

Don Quijote’s interior design is inspired by Spain’s alfresco traditions.

Don Quijote is often described as an “experience.” The outdoor dining at Don Quijote is the perfect venue to spend a romantic rendezvous with someone special or family & friends. It dawns the ambiance of any cool summer night. Nestled one block east of the magnificent Court House Square, the outdoor setting is surrounded by flowers while being covered by a retractable awning. When the sun is too intense or a chance of rain threatens the perfect night out, Don Quijote’s venue covers the bases!

octapus and wine make don Quijhote a outdoor dining top pick

The perfect al fresco dining experience starts with a pitcher of fresh sangria or a glass of wine from the famed Don Quijote wine cellar. Chef Carlos is passionate about wine and has something for most tastes and budgets. Not sure what to order? Want to explore the wine regions of Spain? Just ask Carlos for a recommendation. Carlos loves to talk about wines and can even help you discover which wines compare to the wines of Italy and France.

Tapas: The servers at Don Quijote are well-versed in helping you find a few tapas to get you started! Tapas are small plate appetizers that are meant for sharing. Spanish food is intended to be shared with friends and family. They pair well with wine, yet many people opt for a refreshing craft beer or glass of fruit-infused sangria.

The Secret to a Perfect Alfresco Experience at Don Quijote



Many people will fill the table with a variety of tapas to channel the unique regions of Spain and the Mediterranean. Notably, Don Quijote’s seafood menu has won praise from Chicago critics and media. Carlos only orders the freshest seafood. His calamari and gazpacho are considered by many the best they’ve ever had. Carlos was raised in Galicia, a maritime city known for its seafood, sensational wines, and outdoor dining. His father was a celebrity Chef on a cruise ship, and Carlos inherited his father’s diverse Mediterranean recipes and extraordinary cooking skills.

Nothing Can Top the Restaurant Outdoor Seating Experience of Don Quijote

For a memorable cultural experience, you can’t top restaurant outdoor seating at Don Quijote—especially when it’s served with paella and a bottle of Tempranillo. Paella is the national dish of Spain, and Tempranillo is considered by many to be the world’s best wine.

Don Quijote | Spanish Outdoor Dining

While Don Quijote offers many varieties of paella, Paella Marinara has to be my favorite. Embellished in specially prepared saffron rice, the dinner includes shrimp, cod, baby clams, scallops, mussels, squid, and crab legs. The Tempranillo grape varies in each Spanish wine region and pairs with the culture and food of these regions. In Spain, you don’t order the wine by the grape—you order it by the wine region! My favorite? A Tempranillo from Rioja! Absolutely nothing compares. To learn more about the Spanish wine regions, check out Chef Carlos’s blog.

The perfect ending to the Don Quijote outdoor dining experience is Chef Elena’s fresh selection of desserts (postres). The famed desserts of Don Quijote are considered by many to be the best in the region! Meant to accompany any dessert, Carlos’s port (Oporto) is a dessert wine that Carlos blends in his cellar.

Nothing can top the restaurant outdoor seating experience at Don Quijote, especially when it’s served the way the Spanish do—with great food, wine, and the people you love. Salud!

The sizzle! | Indiana’s only authentic Spanish – Mediterranean cuisine. Seafood is shipped daily for the freshest choice, including Paella. Full wine cellar representing all the Spanish Wine Regions Outdoor Seating. Live entertainment & music.

Visit the Don Quijote Menu on the Valpo Restaurant Site | Visit the Don Quijote Website.

Reserve Your Table – Don Quijote Reservations

Valpo Restaurant Catering | Wedding, Event, or Home Party!

wedding decor, pointer

Imagine having these restaurants help you curate your special occasion. Think about the joy of guests when you tell them your event is catered by one of Valparaiso’s remarkable chefs. Name drops will never be more fun!

Picture stress-free wedding plans because your biggest day ever is being catered by one or more of these restaurants. These restaurants can do more than just deliver great food and wine to your wedding or event. They can offer a great culinary experience that your guests will remember for years to come! Choose individual restaurant catering, or select multi-restaurant catering for a unique international theme. Make it seamless and stress-free with one-stop planning!
Learn More: Valpo Restaurants Catering

Furin Japanese logo

Furin Japanese Restaurant & Bar | This Outdoor Dining Comes with a Tokyo State of Mind

Furin Japanese outdoor is a taste of outdoors in Japan.


One of Valparaiso’s very best restaurants, Furin Japanese Restaurant and Bar, brings international culture and good taste to Valpo’s outdoor dining scene. Chef Daniel Young Hui Wang brings Japanese mastery to Furin’s gorgeous al fresco setting.

For a Tokyo state of mind, Furin Japanese Restaurant’s indoor space is as authentic as it gets. Fans of Furin love to sit at the bar and watch the Furin Chefs demonstrate their traditional Japanese knife skills.

furin Japanese alfresco roll

From cooked sushi to traditional sushi, sampling this Japanese menu comes with a remarkable view at the corner of Valpo’s historic Lincoln Highway and Franklin Street. The outdoor dining experience at Furin is the perfect setting for fans of this beautiful cultural experience. Even Furin’s namesake lends itself to al fresco dining. Furin (translated to “wind chimes”) are a symbol of summer in Japan.

Meet Chef Danny & Annie… and Discover Why They Have Captured the Heart and Imagination of Valparaiso

This All-American family captured the heart & imagination of Valpo.

But at the heart of the Furin Japanese Experience are its remarkable owners, Annie Zhang and Danny Young Hui Wang. It’s easy to fall in love with this wholesome, all-American family! Along with their daughter, this family embodies the American dream.

Chef Danny moved to Chicago at a very young age and was trained in Japanese culinary and masterful knife skills working at some of the best Japanese restaurants in Chicago. Danny’s passion for cooking motivated him to learn both the art of Japanese cooking while offering a diverse menu that appeals to a range of American palates. Fans of Furin love the opportunity to sample sushi as cooked and traditional Asian cuisine.

Furins outdoor dining is a Valpo international cuisine thats perfect for alfresco dining

Furin Japanese Restaurant’s diverse menu includes classic Japanese offerings accompanied by an assortment of modern rolls, steak, sushi, sashimi, ramen, teriyaki and bulgogi (Korean style barbecue marinated beef and pork). The Furin Japanese Bar is one of Valpo’s most diverse offerings, ranging from Sake, craft beer, fine wines, and culinary cocktails.


The sizzle! | Authentic Japanese cuisine, Fresh seafood, Sushi (cooked & traditional) Japanese knife skills, Saki and Asian Beverages, Craft beer, Wine List, Tropical Cocktails, Outdoor garden, Japanese Deco & Music


Visit the Furin Japanese Menu on the Valpo Restaurant Site | Visit the Furin Website.


the abbeys logo

The Abbey Italian Steak House | Casual Outdoor Dining

10oz grilled Angus beef. Topped with grilled scallions, and peppadew peppers

The Abbey Italian Steak House is a chic and swanky restaurant that brings high-spirited fun to casual dining. Its star attraction is the Italian-infused steak. But make no mistake about it—this restaurant is quickly becoming a destination for people that love a full menu of food and wine!

Steak houses tend to get labeled as spots for pretentious, uptight people. But this isn’t your typical steak house. The Abbey Italian Steak House is this trendy, modern restaurant with patio dining. Everything about the Abbey Italian Steak House will put you into a relaxed state of mind.

Then again, why shouldn’t you feel like you can rest at ease? The Abbey Italian Steak House is the restaurant and tavern of Valparaiso’s legendary four-season resort! Its eclectic lobby is reminiscent of the great Chicago hotels from the 1940s. The grand piano brings a touch of class to Abbey’s lounge. Nestled just outside is the cozy al fresco dining area. It’s easy to forget that you are just minutes from Valparaiso and an hour from downtown. For a vacation state of mind, order an appetizer, a steak, and a great bottle of wine.

Alfresco Dining | Credentials for Fun!

Visit the Abbey Menu on the Valpo Restaurant Site | Visit the Abbey Website. | Aberdeen Inn Resort

Tommy B's Sports Bar | The Spirited Restaurant with Outdoor Drinking!

Tommy B’s Clubhouse | The Spirited Restaurant with Outdoor Seating

Tommy Bs outdoor patio in Aberdeen

Tommy B’s brings the culture of Aberdeen to the Valpo Restaurants portfolio. This sports bar is known for its great food, drink menu, and spirited fun.

For people in Valpo, Tommy B’s location is perfect for a get-a-way feel while still being just 6 minutes away. For people that live in Aberdeen, paradise is in their own backyard! Ideally positioned across the street from the Aberdeen Inn and a few blocks from the Aberdeen Golf Course, Tommy B’s is known for its cozy outdoor dining and its two-sided bar experience. Fans of Tommy B’s have a choice of a sports bar and a lounge.

Tommy B’s serves pizza, hamburgers, flatbreads, and lake perch with a unique style infused with the traditions and culture of Aberdeen’s history. This restaurant with outdoor drinking includes a tasteful wine menu, seasonal craft beers, and handmade drinks.

Tommy B’s Owner Helped Make Valpo a Destination for Festivals, Infused Cuisine, and Outdoor Dining

The outdoor patio at Tommy Bs Clubhouse attracts golfers and people that love an active lifestyle.

The sizzle! | Sports bar, Lounge, and Outdoor Dining. The fresh choice for innovative cuisine, handmade drinks, wine, and craft beer. Spirited atmosphere. Aberdeen Golf Course.

 Visit the Tommy Bs Website.



Rudy’s BBQ | Outdoor Restaurants
Rudy's smoke brisket is the perfect compliment to outdoor fun!

Very few cuisines capture the essence of summer and outdoor dining quite like Southern BBQ. With Valparaiso’s remarkable outdoor dining culture, it’s not a surprise that BBQ has become so popular in Valparaiso. But in a town known for its authentic cuisine, it’s not acceptable to serve BBQ sauces from a jar. No, Sir! Valpo loves its real and authentic components, so obviously they love Rudy’s BBQ!

The Rudy’s BBQ reputation was legendary in Valparaiso long before its owner set up his restaurant on North Calumet Ave. Years before bringing his talents to Valpo, fans would say that any true fan of Southern BBQ would need to leave Valpo if they wanted it authentic. Fortunately, they didn’t mean Texas or Kansas; they meant Wanatah. That’s where Rudy Messer prepared his sauces, smokes his meats, and established his prestige. Despite being a small, hole-in-the-wall location, the food was amazing—especially the brisket.

The menu items are also perfect for a little alfresco lunch. While the selection is diverse, some notable choices include the Cuban Panini, Italian smoked brisket, and the legendary Rudy’s Burger. The star attraction at Rudy’s is the brisket and ribs. Children love the kid’s menu—especially the pulled pork and mac & cheese.

The Sizzle | Authentic Southern BBQ, Signature offerings include smoked brisket, smoked pulled pork and smoked pulled chicken, Daily Beer Specials, and Outdoor Dining with the flavor and aromas of summer

Amici 's logo. Amici was named as a top choice for its gorgeous view from the patio and great food
Amici Grill & Pizzeria | Outdoor Lunch

amici's patio overlooks Valpo University

The Valpo Restaurants have become a destination for outdoor dining through their remarkable variety of fresh ingredients infused with flavors spanning the globe. So what could be any more appropriate than to welcome a restaurant that brings all these wonderful characteristics into a single restaurant? On the eastern edge of Valparaiso’s historic downtown district on the original Lincoln Highway is Amici Grill & Pizzeria. Amici offers everything you could ever want in outdoor dining—and they have great parking!

More and more people are talking about Amici as the perfect place to meet up for outdoor lunch This is largely due to its ideal location and social setting. Just across the street are the towers of Uptown East Apartments and Valparaiso University. Amici is also on the eastern edge of Valparaiso’s downtown. Valpo’s cityscape can be seen from the patio while sharing a pizza and beer with friends. Ok, maybe Valpo’s skyline doesn’t compete with Chicago’s, but Amici’s pizza does!

You may think Amici Pub and Pizzeria’s reputation as one of Valpo’s best outdoor patios is due to Valpo’s rendition of pizza pies. It also could be the enterprise’s lunch specials and proximity to—well, everything! But according to its owner Johnny Mouratides, there’s more to it. His family’s recipes brought friends together for years and were the inspiration for opening his restaurant.

The Sizzle | Outdoor Dining with great parking, Fresh & Diverse Menu, Valpo Style Pizza, Great Beer & Wine Selection, Grab & Go Lunch Specials with Pizza by the Slice.

 Visit the Amici Website.


Written By

Jim Jano Janesheski



 Special Thanks to the Sponsors of Valpo’s Culinary Events and Outdoor Dining

Valparaiso’s Outdoor Dining movement began when Valpo’s chefs began working shoulder to shoulder with some of Valpo’s businesses to organize concerts and culinary events. These businesses believe it’s the responsibility of businesses to pay it forward and seldom ask for recognition. On behalf of the Valpo Restaurant Group, please help us show our appreciation and let them know they are appreciated.

These businesses are Perma-Green, Grieger’s Motor Sales, Uptown East, and Jano-Digital, and Crown-Wheele HVOC.

Discover Great Backyard Dining with a Healthy, Green Lawn!

Discover Al Fresco Fun in a Convertible Jeep Wrangler
Griegers Motors and Valpo Restaurants work together to help the community.

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Jim Jano Janesheski is the writer of this blog from JANO,-VALPO

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Uptown East Apartments | Valpo’s Best Place to Live for Foodies, Alfresco Dining & Things to Do!

Uptown Residents are served a different restaurant’s cuisine on 1st Thursdays. It’s how UE supports the restaurant community while showing serious love to its residents.

Imagine living in a place where you have a remarkable outdoor patio with strands of party lights & festive music, setting the tone for a night of outdoor dining with friends and neighbors. Now imagine Valparaiso’s top chefs serving you their best international cuisine. Yum!

Shoulder to Shoulder with the Chefs | It’s All About Community!

Uptown’s Larry Gough helped make Valpo’s downtown a destination.


Uptown first got involved with the Valpo Restaurants long before Valpo became a destination for outdoor dining. In fact, they helped get it going!

According to the blog, Uptown Helps make Valpo Community Best Place to Live, Uptown’s Developer, Larry Gough worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the Valpo chefs to create festivals & events nearly 15 years ago. Outdoor dining was the natural progression of the free outdoor culinary festivals they organized. Gough’s business model for his developments is to offer his residents the best amenities and endless things to do.

The Sizzle | Outdoor Dining Restaurants, Private Balconies for private outdoor parties, Valpo’s luxury Apartments

 Visit Uptown East Website


HVAC | Heating & Cooling


Special Thanks to Katie Abel & Valpo Events
Discover Valpo’s Festivals & Events