Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Dining: Da best is over dare…in Valpo!
A challenger to Chicago’s supremacy for innovative cuisine and 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.
My kind of town! From deep-dish pizza to outdoor dining…. 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!
Well, now it’s Chicago that loves to brag! Along with Chicago’s great cuisine comes great arrogance. Chicago is the best and they’ll let you know at every turn. So if Chicago is numero uno, who the new Second City? Valparaiso…that’s who! While Valpo and Chicago both have mastered the art of infusion cuisines, combining international cuisine with the American palate, Valparaiso is attracting Chicago’s foodies for the integration of its own unique culture with outdoor dining. Today, you’ll discover the ultimate guide to outdoor dining. Sorry, Chi-CAW-go! Da best is over dare…in Valpo!
Valpo is more than just world-class cuisine… it comes with the best outdoor dining
With roots in Chicago and strong influences from Spain, Greece, Italy, Japan, and around the world, Valparaiso’s chefs are winning over even the most pretentious foodies and critics from Chicago.
But if you ask the Chefs in Valpo, the Downtown Valpo Restaurants are not just an off-shoot of Chicago. Valpo has developed a culture of infused cuisine and remarkable outdoor dining.
Cultural ethnicity has inspired much more than just the Valparaiso cuisine, it’s the driving force behind the hard work, dedication, and impeccable service that drives people to visit these restaurants. This influence is the cornerstone of Valpo’s outdoor dining scene.
In Valpo, a great outdoor dining experience must have this ingredient
According to Radius’ Chef Chris Pavlou, the secret ingredient to winning awards is putting the focus on making it fun and creating energy for customers. Pavlou is inspired by his father’s work ethic and Greek heritage. While Radius is known for the All-American Hamburger, the Mediterranean influence is strong. Pavlou personally greets every customer himself.
“Everyone at Radius works as a team to create a great experience for our guests. Everything and everyone must work together to achieve this end, from selecting the finest ingredients, creating new recipes, updating your wine and beer selection, and offering the best live music. Everything we do is driven by the reward of seeing customers smiling and having a great time. We even chose our location because it’s perfect for outdoor dining. People love the view and all the beautiful people walking around the square. Valpo’s a gorgeous town!”
In a recent interview with Cool Cars.No Boundaries, Pavlou said, “If it was just about the food, people would stay home and cook for themselves. People want to be entertained by live music. They want to people watch. They also want great food. Nothing beats sharing a glass of wine with friends on a beautiful summer night… and nothing beats the fun of outdoor dining”.
Happiness is…Outdoor dining!
Valpo’s strong outdoor dining scene and culture of working together have set the table for new restaurants to open in the Vale of Paradise.
The progression is also growing beyond just the historic downtown. Just a few blocks North of Valpo’s historic downtown is one of the region’s best restaurants, Martinis. Martinis has a huge following for its remarkable cuisine and outdoor dining. Technically on the edge of downtown- the Valpo Restaurant Group expanded the downtown border to include them. Welcoming owners Louie and Sophie Kalafatis bring class and leadership to the Valpo Restaurants.
Clearly, Valpo’s future looks bright, but it hasn’t always been the case. Where did Valpo’s great taste and culture for outdoor dining start? It all started 35 years ago when a Spanish Restaurant owner fell in love with a beautiful American and followed her to Northwest Indiana to marry her. It was a love story that changed Valpo forever!
Outdoor Dining. It started 35 years ago with Bull Fighting and a Spanish tradition
Like most cities in the ’80s, Valpo was losing its downtown to malls and giant big box stores. Valpo’s storied past, established by early settlers way back in 1834, was on the decline. When people wanted to shop, they went to malls. When they wanted a great dinner, they went to Chicago.
That all changed in 1986 when Carlos Rivero opened Don Quijote Restaurant in Valpo’s declining downtown.
Chef Carlos Rivero wanted to share his passion for Spanish food and wine with his adopted country. With a father that was a celebrity chef in Spain, Carlos loved to cook. Carlos had a vision for Valpo that he learned from growing up in different regions of the Mediterranean. He introduced weekly live entertainment, outdoor dining, and helping competing restaurants survive.
People laughed at his outdoor dining and even took bets that he would last a year!
Perhaps his greatest contribution to his adopted town of Valparaiso was the tradition of working as a community. In Spain, restaurants and city officials work together as a community to create an entertaining experience for visitors. People from the Mediterranean countries put politics aside and work as one to create a great al fresco experience. The Spanish Tapa (small plate servings) originated from people touring all the restaurants- stopping at each restaurant for a small plate and glass of wine.
At first, not everyone was thrilled by Carlos’ Mediterranean traditions or international cuisine. One reporter sarcastically published an article that suggested the Spaniard was trying to bring Bull Fighting to Valparaiso. Some people didn’t give Don Quijote any chance of surviving and were taking bets when Chef Carlos would close.
Hmmm? It’s 40 years later and Don Quijote is one of Valpo’s oldest restaurants. Carlos is celebrated for influences that made Valpo a destination. Ironically, it was the newspapers that didn’t survive. I wonder what happened to the reporter. Maybe Carlos can give him a job washing dishes.
A destination for great Chefs and people that love dining al fresco
Carlos’s influence did more than attract customers from Chicago. He attracted innovative Chefs that were inspired by Valpo’s ‘no paradigm’ movement. Chef Paul Loduca opened his 1940’s Chicago Tavern Steakhouse. Chef Paul operates several restaurants in Chicago’s Gold Coast region, including the legendary Adobo Grill on North Ave and Vinci on North Halsted. LoDuca saw Valpo’s potential. Loduca and Rivero were immediate friends and worked hard to bring the community together for festivals, food events, and charitable fundraisers.
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 Chef Carlos. Carlos stood shoulder to shoulder with Pavlou and helped him get through a turbulent start. Pavlou was recently named NWI Restaurant of the Year by the South Shore Tourism.
Chris Pavlou seems to be the new version of Chef Carlos, which Chris considers an honor, but is quick to point out that he is much better-looking. All joking aside, Carlos believes Chris can continue the Valpo progression and recently appointed Chris as his replacement as the leader of the Downtown Valpo Restaurants.
Valpo’s outdoor dining grew with a new generation of courageous Chefs.
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 al fresco experience in Valpo’s historic downtown.
Chef Eddie Luick was a young chef running Bon Femme for the legendary restaurant owner, George Nissan. Chef Eddie had his finger on the pulse of the unique dining scene and knew what people wanted. His intimate relationship with the local market gave him the courage to push the envelope with his daring dishes. Years later, when Chef Eddie opened his Blue Point Restaurant, he combined his unique culinary skills with a location that many consider the best outdoor dining location in the region. The rest is history.
Chef Cory & Blair Muro from Ricochet have a similar story. Their unique branding is integrated into their culture, food, design, and outdoor dining space. Like their unique international cuisine, the Ricochet location is original and tasteful. Visitors love the breathtaking view of the Court House and Valpo’s iconic main street.
Learning from Chicago’s remarkable culture
Most of the Chefs that collectively make up the Downtown Valpo Restaurants have roots in the Chicago culinary scene. Valparaiso wouldn’t have its culture and great restaurants without Chicago’s influence. Many were influenced and trained by Chicago’s best chefs.
Just look at Pikk’s Tavern owner and Chef, Paul Loduca. Loduca splits his time between his 2 Chicago restaurants and his Valparaiso restaurant. Loduca’s success can be attributed to spending his childhood working for his father’s award-winning Italian restaurant in Munster. Loduca spent every Friday and Saturday night working for this legendary Chicagoland restaurant. It made him an amazing chef. It also made him learn the importance of creating a great experience.
While Chef Loduca is known for his innovation and courageous transfusions, it was his father’s influence that sharpened the instincts that brought him to Valpo. Loduca saw the potential and set up his restaurant in a location that allows guests a VIP view of live concerts at Valpo’s Central Park.
Chicago taught Danny the art of Japanese cuisine…Valpo taught Danny the art of community
The wonderful thing about the unique culture in Valparaiso’s downtown is the “pay it forward” attitude of the Downtown Valpo Restaurants. Chef Danny at Furin Restaurant gets it! When he first came from Chicago to open his Furin Japanese Restaurant, he had many challenges and learning curves.
Rather than looking at Danny and his wife Annie as competition, Carlos, Chris, and others from the Downtown Valpo Restaurant Group would help Danny, advise him and offer words of encouragement.
Now outdoor restaurant seating at Furin is one of the hottest tables in Northwest Indiana. With Danny’s infectious smile, impossible knife work, and mastery of Japanese cuisine, Chef Danny is now a pillar in the outdoor community. Danny was moved by the support and sense of community that allowed him to become a success and looks forward to helping the next new restaurant that opens. It’s the Valpo way.
The only thing better than Valpo’s Outdoor Dining is this!
I think you’ll agree, nothing can beat an outdoor dining experience at one of these great restaurants…. or is there?
Valpo Restaurant Catering | Wedding, Event, or Home Party!
Imagine having these restaurants help you create an event. Imagine your guest’s joy when you tell them your event is catered by one of Valparaiso’s remarkable chefs. Name-dropping 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 bring a great culinary experience that your guests will remember for years to come. Chose 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
Guide to Outdoor Dining | 2021
Martinis | Outdoor dining with Class.
Martinis is one of the Valpo Restaurant’s classiest outdoor dining spaces. Always innovative and always fresh, owners Louie and Sophie were recruited to join the restaurant group for their selfless leadership and sense of community. Martinis also helped break barriers that now welcome restaurants into the group that is not just in Valpo’s historic downtown area.
Why would the downtown restaurants break borders to include this sensational restaurant? According to Radius-Valpo’s Chris Pavlou, “Martinis’ inclusion into the Valparaiso Restaurant’s brings world-class credibility to our member portfolio. It also expands our boundaries to include Valparaiso’s near Northside.”
Carlos Rivero, owner of Don Quijote, agrees with Pavlou. “We think as a group, our restaurants can compete with cities around the world for international cuisine. It’s even more remarkable when you consider Valpo’s size. Having Martinis in our group helps elevate our reputation as s world-class destination for great cuisine and outdoor dining.” So what makes Rivero such an expert? The Chef has owned several restaurants in Spain and his father was a celebrated Mediterranean chef.
Martinis’ restaurant outdoor seating is the perfect rendezvous
Martinis’ restaurant outdoor seating is the perfect rendezvous for friends and lovers. Nestled between the flowers and herbs, you’ll quickly forget your 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 sounds of the outdoor waterfall as background music serenades will take you away to an unforgettable experience. This cozy atmosphere is the perfect get-a-way 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 the 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 alfresco, or dining al fresco, is often defined as dining in open-air, Chef Louie likes to include the word fresh in his definition. But then again, this chef likes to include fresh in everything he does. He cooks from scratch using the freshest ingredients. His seafood is delivered fresh every day and his menu is always evolving. If that’s not enough, the chef recently renovated Martinis inside and out. Even the Martinis outdoor dining has a fresh new look for 2021!
Fresh is the quintessential component of everything this chef does.
So it shouldn’t surprise you that Chef Louie defines dining al fresco as dining 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
Pikk’s Tavern | Outdoor dining that raises the steaks!
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 the Pikk’s Tavern outdoor dining, the real star attraction is the food and drinks.
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, and restaurateur. If you’re looking for a classic Chicago dinner, Pikk’s “raises the steaks.” When it comes to Ribeye, New York Strip, and the Filet Mignon, Loduca brings his Chicago talents to Valpo’s remarkable outdoor dining scene.
Pikk’s outdoor restaurant seating is just as remarkable on a gorgeous summer day as it is on date night.
Pikk’s Tavern is perhaps the most innovative restaurant I’ve been to. A 1940’s Chicago Tavern theme with a transfusion of American, Italian, and Mexican cuisine. The background music adds volumes of coolness thanks to the well-engineered acoustic treatments.
Pikk’s outdoor restaurant seating is the largest in Valparaiso. With tables, lounge chairs and the best view for a live concert, the Pikk’s outdoor dining experience is extraordinary!
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. 1940’s Chicago Tavern Theme, Steaks, Wine List, Cocktails, Craft Beer, Bed & Breakfast overlooking Downtown
Furin Japanese Restaurant and Bar | This outdoor dining comes with a Tokyo state of mind
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.
From cooked sushi to traditional sushi, sampling this Asian 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 al fresco dining. Furin (or 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
But at the heart of the Furin Japanese Experience are its remarkable owners, Annie Zhang and DannyYoung 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.
Furin Japanese Restaurant’s diverse menu includes classic Japanese cuisine with an infusion 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
Click Menu Image to see the food and drink menu
Meditrina Market Cafe | A small cafe with big flavor & alfresco dining!
Nestled at the crossroads of the Washington Street Historic District and Valparaiso’s downtown, Meditrina Market Cafe takes pride in being a part of such a culturally diverse neighborhood. There is something extraordinary about sharing a bottle of wine with family and friends while enjoying a traditional Mediterranean dinner. A small cafe with big flavor, Meditrina’s outdoor cafe is the perfect setting for a special night out.
More and more people are talking about the restaurants and wineries on North Washington Street. The culture is a blend of mid-nineteenth-century architecture, live music, and remarkable restaurants with outdoor dining.
With canopies of lights running over Washington Street and flowers cascading in front of the businesses, Meditrina’s outdoor dining is the perfect setting for this Mediterannean experience. While Meditrina Market Cafe’s intimate outdoor patio earned this restaurant a spot on our Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Dining list, it’s the remarkable talents of Chef Sarah Geary that have earned so much praise for Meditrina’s authentic cuisine.
While Sarah Geary maintains a strong commitment to tradition, she offers a fresh, new twist to Mediterranean Cuisine. According to Chef Sarah, “Traditional Mediterranean cuisine, with its variety of flavors and textures, is meant to be shared. It’s where health and happiness come together! You get the best of both worlds with lean fresh dining for the whole family to enjoy.”
Meditrina is a great restaurant for meeting friends and family, but it also ideal for a date or special celebration. Meditrina Market Cafe’s colorful ethnic edge and al fresco dining make it special enough for an intimate night out.
Wine & Dine Alfresco
From California to Lebanon, Meditrina’s diverse wine selection pairs well with an amazing outdoor dining experience. The wines are carefully selected, rare, and go perfectly with whatever you decide to pair with. From easy to drink to spicy and complex.
For a remarkable outdoor dining experience and a taste of the Mediterranean, you’ll love Meditrina Market Cafe
Elements Wine Bar | Valpo’s alfresco destination for fine wine and live music
To be a challenger to Chicago’s great outdoor dining scene requires cultural diversity. Chicago has remarkable blues and thanks to Element’s Wine Bar, so does Valparaiso. The best Chicago has to offer can now be found performing alfresco at this cultural wine bar. There’s something cool about performing at Elements and it’s attracting talent from Chicago and Northwest Indiana.
More than a Restaurant with Outdoor Drinking | The Perfect Music Venue!
It starts with the outdoor setting. Element’s restaurant outdoor seating is the perfect venue for talented musicians. The acoustic resonance created by the cityscape creates the perfect imagery for live music. While the setting is ideal for live music, it’s the unique surroundings that add so much to the Elements Wine Bar experience. With strands of amber lights running over the streets and positioned in the heart of Valpo’s historic district, Elements is the perfect compliment to Valparaiso’s diverse restaurant scene.
If great food is the signature of Valpraiso’s innovative dining scene then Elements is the cultural exclamation point.
While Elements Wine Bar attracts some of the best musicians in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, the real rockstar at Elements is the wine selection. Elements owner, Michelle Prosser, an expert Sommelier. Her passion for wine is only equaled by her love for the blues.
Great Musicians love the connection at this intimate Outdoor Venue
While restaurants in Valparaiso often hire solo acts to entertain customers, Michelle Prosser puts music on center stage at Elements Wine Bar. The combination of her historic location, large outdoor patio, and passion for music makes Elements uniquely qualified to book both solo acts and multi-instrument bands.
Elements Wine bar brings an important component to Valparaiso’s cultural scene. Having an intimate music venue plays a significant role to the city’s brand. It also complements the restaurants by offering visitors more diversity and options.
For this, Michelle and Elements are respected by the other members of the Valpo Restaurant Group. The other restaurants like to recommend their customers stop by Elements for a little post-dinner drink and entertainment. Working as friends and supporting each other is what makes the Valparaiso Restaurant group special. Cheers!
Musicians Plug-in to Washington Street’s Historic District
Elements Wine Bar is attracting some bands and musicians from Chicago and throughout the midwest. Word is out…. its cool to perform in Valpo.
And while Elements is attracting some of the midwest’s best blues bands, they are also attracting some musicians that grew up in Valpo and moved on to pursue their careers. Steve Ball, a member of the popular Wrigleyville band called Mr. Blotto, likes to split his time between performing in his hometown of Valparaiso. While performing with Mr. Blotto, Ball performs the keyboard and a wide range of other instruments. While it’s rewarding to perform for a band of Mr. Blottos stature, Ball enjoys performing solo at Elements. It gives him the opportunity to sing and play guitar. It also allows him to connect with his audience and rediscover his roots.
For fans of live music and outdoor fun, Washington Steet’s Historic District is the place to be.
The sizzle! | Wine Bar with a remarkable selection of wines from around the world. Areas best outdoor setting for live music in North Washington Historic District. Chicago and NWI’s destination for Blues, Jazz, and Rock . Bands & Solo Performances.
Ricochet Tacos | One of Northwest Indiana’s best picks for Restaurants with Outdoor Seating
The folks at Ricochet Tacos take their brand very seriously. You’ll find hints of the Ricochet brand standards in everything they do. From the limited menu to the thoughtfully designed dining space. The Ricochet brand is an embodiment of culinary innovation. It’s all about keeping it unique, fresh, and real. This is especially evident in the Ricochet outdoor dining space. The view is fresh. The setting is real and when it comes to the food…it’s about as unique as it gets.
I asked Chef Daryn of Ricochet to describe the Ricochet cuisine. Chef Daryn likes to describe the innovative cuisine of Ricochet Tacos as New American. “New American cuisine takes classically-trained elements of French, Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean, and other cuisines combined with the comfort and accessibility as your common American fare.”
“We are not Mexican food. We never tried to be, we never will be. We are a hybrid animal of all cuisine styles and cultures. We simply choose one of the most important vessels to tell our story, the tortilla. By its most simple definition and its history and etymology, the taco has an endless open-ended future (pun intended) and we are at the forefront for that growth and discovery. Everything you never thought you would find on a tortilla will be gladly brought to you by the Ricochet team.”
The Ricochet culture inspires innovation | Dining al fresco with taste
So where did this unique business model come from? Founders Cory and Blair Muro. Since 2011, Cory and Blair have earned a huge following for their unique concept eateries. Cory’s insatiable desire to innovate pairs perfectly with Blair’s desire to create a fresh and wonderful experience for customers.
For a step from the ordinary, Ricochet brings you the extraordinary…. innovation comes with a shell.
The sizzle! | Fresh choice for innovative cuisine, fresh & simple ingredients, seasonal menu, and craft beer. Wine List. Outdoor Seating with a mesmerizing view of Court House and historic Lincoln Highway.
Blue Point Oysters & Sushi Bar | Outdoor dining’s freshest seafood
When Chef Eddie took Valpo by storm, it was as an Executive Chef for Bon Femme. Decades later, the resilient Chef has grown up with Valpo’s downtown to become a celebrated chef. Eddie’s courage to introduce the unconventional has always worked because of Eddie’s years of experience cooking in the Vale of Paradise.
Ask the Chef how he can be so daring and still please so many people, and he’ll tell you it’s because he has an intimate relationship with his customers… This Chef paid his dues.
Blue Point Oysters and Sushi Bar restaurant is one of Northwest Indiana’s best locations for outdoor dining. Positioned in the heart of Valpo and directly across from the magnificent Court House, Chef Eddie serves Northwest Indiana’s largest fresh oyster selection.
Blue Point fans love the remarkable seafood experience while enjoying a tropical cocktail within this ultra-cool patio scene. Although the Chef is known for his seafood, many locals will boast of his perfectly executed steaks, chicken entrees and pasta dishes.
Hand-rolled sushi is an outdoor favorite. Only the best parts of the whole fish are sliced: includes yellowtail, tuna, mackerel, and others depending on the specials. Our options include traditional/inside-out prepared sushi like California rolls to inventive house creations such as our popular fiesta roll! In addition to rolls, Blue Point serves nigiri and sashimi cuts of high-quality sushi-grade select fish.
Blue Point’s fish is shipped daily and Chef Eddie insists on serving only the freshest oyster selection. Chef Eddie might be famous for his seafood cuisine, but as his Valpo followers of over 20 years will tell you, this cat can serve up some of the best steaks and chicken entrees.
Blue Point is a lunchtime favorite for fans of outdoor dining. Without compromise to Blue Point’s high standards, the outdoor patio is the perfect spot for a quick lunch with friends and business associates. My favorite? A quick sushi lunch.
The sizzle! | Live Music, Sushi & Oysters, Seafood, Wine List, Tropical Cocktails, Craft Beer, Outdoor Seating in front of Historic Court House
Click Menu Image to see the food and drink menu
Scarpe | Alfresco Dining & Authentic Culinary from Puglia, Italy
In the heart of downtown Valparaiso, centered on the big stage of our beautiful Central Park, sits a little gem…Scarpe. This authentic Italian restaurant becomes the perfect venue for outdoor dining when Valpo’s downtown comes to life during a live concert. The view is absolutely mesmerizing. The Scarpe experience is a celebration of culture.
When it comes to al fresco dining, Scarpe has the credentials to impress. Both of Scarpe’s chefs, Olivia Fisse and Adam Shoemaker, are graduates of the world-famous Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park NY and each studied in Puglia, Italy!
While in Italy, they fell in love with Italian culture, wine, and cuisine. They also fell in love with each other. Lucky for Valparaiso, Chef Olivia and Chef Adam brought their passion to Valpo’s innovative dining scene. Just recently, Adam proposed to Olivia and they will soon be married.
This passion is at the cornerstone of Scarpe’s remarkable outdoor dining experience. Scarpe’s menu is as real as it gets. From hand-made pasta, fresh-baked focaccia bread, to house-made fresh mozzarella. Scarpe is the perfect setting for fans of outdoor dining!
Scarpe brings authentic Italian food and wine to Valpo’s alfresco dining scene.
The Downtown Valpo Restaurants couldn’t have been more honored to welcome Scarpe into its family of remarkable restaurants. It’s not uncommon to find Valpo’s top chefs sharing a glass of wine in front of Scarpe with house Sommelier, Adam Shoemaker. According to legendary chef Carlos Rivero, Shoemaker and Scarpe bring world-class legitimacy to the Vale of Paradise.
Scarpe outdoor patio as they relaxing has the largest all Italian wine list in NW Indiana. Our wines are all tasted and hand-selected by our in-house Sommelier!
If you are searching for a wonderful indoor or outdoor dining experience, stunning views of Valparaiso’s concerts and festivals, and the freshest Italian cuisine and incredible Italian wines, you’ll want to experience Scarpe’s outdoor patio.
Scarpe’s Italian cuisine is considered one of Valparaiso’s best restaurants with outdoor seating
In addition to our incredible handmade pasta, fresh-baked focaccia bread, and house-made fresh mozzarella, we have the largest all Italian wine list in NW Indiana. Our wines are all tasted and hand-selected by our in-house Sommelier!
The sizzle! | Largest 100% Italian wine list in NW Indiana-hand-selected by Scarpe’s Sommelier! | Authentic Italian w/2 Chefs from Culinary Institute of America | Craft Beer, Outdoor Seating
Click Menu Image to see Food and Wine menu & Reservations
Radius | Valparaiso’s Award-Winning Restaurant with Outdoor Dining
Radius-Valpo was named Restaurant of the Year by the South Shore Tourism for 2019 and Best Signature Burger at the Chefs of Steel Competition…But according to Chef Chris Pavlou, the biggest award is the unbelievable reviews and tremendous following his Radius earns online.
Just drive by Radius and it’s always jam-packed with happy, smiling people. The excitement must be contagious, or maybe 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. Kris even has a huge following for his Keto menu.
Driven to create a remarkable outdoor dining experience
His creative recipes are especially popular with the outdoor dining crowd. Chef Chris considers himself an artist and his burger is the canvas. His creativity knows no bounds. The charismatic Chef uses the freshest ingredients to infuse some extraordinary cocktails and tropical drinks…perfect for a night of alfresco dining.
VALPO’S BEST LOCATION, OUTDOOR DINING, AND LIVE MUSIC
The insatiable desire to please customers doesn’t stop with the innovative recipes of his diverse menu. Chef Chris set up his family restaurant in a location that is as extraordinary as his menu. 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 the 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 venues.
Everything about Radius is fun. Even waiting for an outdoor dining table can be an adventure. Radius recently doubled the size of its bar. With a fresh selection of craft beer, cocktails, and delicious wines, waiting for restaurant outdoor seating is a delicious experience and part of the fun.
Valparaiso’s Award-Winning Restaurant with Outdoor Drinking
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 award. But while the food critics and foodie fans love Radius for its fresh menu, great entertainment, and high-energy fun, Radius is also known as Valpo’s award-winning restaurant with outdoor drinking.
With so many season-fresh cocktails, craft beer, and wine options to pick from, here 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 Radius Bar Team. Chef Chris, Bartender Jenn, and the other bartenders collaborate in creating these 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 their 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 few 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. 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
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This Year’s Guide to Outdoor Dining welcomes these 2 Great Restaurants with outdoor drinking!
Chicago’s contribution to the culinary world began with the ethnic diversity of its neighborhoods. As people moved to the suburbs, the great restaurants of Chicago followed them, but with a twist! Many of these cuisines were reinvented, mixed, and infused. To add to the experience, many of these restaurants created innovative themes for these restaurants.
Valparaiso has seen a similar progression just south of the downtown in a community called Aberdeen. Just follow the winding roads just south of Valparaiso you’ll find two great restaurants with outdoor drinking.
One is a sports bar that originated in downtown Valpo with an infusion of Aberdeen’s upscale neighborhood and active lifestyle. The other is a casual steak house that is within a four-season resort steeped in heritage that dates back to the Civil War.
The Abbey Italian Steak House | Casual Outdoor Dining
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 sometimes get labeled as a place for pretentious, uptight people, but this isn’t your typical steak house. The Abbey Italian Steak House is this swanky cool restaurant with patio dining. Everything about the Abbey Italian Steak House will put you into a vacation state of mind.
But then again, why shouldn’t you feel like you are on vacation. 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 your 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.
Beneath Abbey’s restaurant patio are hidden tunnels from the Underground Railroad!
While ordering a glass of wine or a refreshing cocktail from the bar, ask your bartender to show you Abbey’s hidden trap door at the end of the bar. This hidden trap door leads to the Underground Railroad, where abolitionists hid runaway slaves.
Having a glass of wine will never be more spirited! Learn more:
Once called the Timber Lake Farm, beneath the Abbey Italian Steak House lies flagstone and timber tunnels. As part of the Underground Railroad, these tunnels gave refuge to people escaping to freedom.
Alfresco Dining | Credentials for Fun!
Alfresco Dining is supposed to be fun, and the owners of the Abbey Italian Steak House are legendary for making it fun.
It starts with Barb Sexton. Barb was one of the original restaurants that started downtown Valparaiso’s outdoor movement (See below-Tommy Bs) Her best friend is also her business partner, Roxxy Chayhitz. Roxxy may have paid her dues in real estate, but she is the perfect complement to this resort restaurant with outdoor drinking. Barb and Roxxy know how to make it fun!
Of course, every great restaurant has a partnership with someone with remarkable chef credentials… and that’s why Barb and Roxxy recently welcomed to their partnership the charismatic owner of Radius-Valpo, Chris Pavlou. You won’t find too many Chefs with Chris’s awards and accolades, including the last two NWI Restaurant of the Year Awards from Southshore Tourism.
Along with his new partners, Chris is in the process of blueprinting big ideas for Abbey’s interior design, outdoor dining, and Abbey’s kitchen. His new menu will be announced soon. Everyone’s talking about how Chris is bringing his Radius experience to the Abbey with an upscale menu. We can hardly wait!
The sizzle! | Fresh Italian Infused Steak House. Rated one of Valpo’s top restaurants with Outdoor Seating. The full menu includes steak, seafood, burgers, appetizers. Home of Underground Railroad. Four-Season Resort/ amenities include limo service, golf course, swimming, hotel. 6 Minutes from downtown Valpo – 60 minutes from Chicago Loop.
Tommy B’s Sports Bar | The Spirited Restaurant with Outdoor Drinking!
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 Bs 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 Bs is known for its cozy outdoor dining and its two-sided bar experience. Fans of Tommy Bs 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 spirited culture. This restaurant with outdoor drinking includes a tasteful wine menu, seasonal craft beers, and handmade drinks.
Tommy Bs owner helped make Valpo a Destination for Festivals, Infused Cuisine, and Outdoor Dining
When the Valpo Restaurants expanded its memberships to include Aberdeen, they didn’t bring in a new restaurant, they welcomed an old friend. Tommy Bs is owned by one of the OG’s of the Downtown Valpo Restaurant Group, Barb Sexton. Barb has owned several restaurants in Valpo’s historic district, including Tommy Bs.
The restauranteur moved Tommy Bs to Aberdeen because she saw the potential for a sports bar in the avant-garde neighborhood that includes a four-season resort, golf course, swimming pools, and upscale homes.
Tommy Bs Sports Bar exemplifies a modern restaurant that infused its culinary traditions with the culture of a forward-thinking community.
The OGs of Outdoor Dining
Barb Sexton helped make downtown Valparaiso a destination for outdoor dining restaurants. Along with Carlos Rivero from Don Quijote and Paul LoDuca from Pikk’s, George Nissan from Bon Femme, and Nicole Bassett of Bistro 157, these restauranteurs helped change Valpo’s culture and the economic engine that helped make Valpo an award-winning community.
Together, these restauranteurs established an association, created innovative themes, cross-promoted each other, and worked together to create an outdoor dining culture that attracts foodies from Chicago and throughout the midwest.
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.
Don Quijote Restaurant | The restaurant that started Valpo’s outdoor dining.
It might seem odd that Valparaiso’s first restaurant to offer outdoor dining is the last establishment to make our Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Dining. Why end with the restaurant that started it all? Because it’s how Chef Carlos swings. Putting other restaurants first is how this Chef helped Valparaiso become a destination for 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, and helping the other restaurants in Valpo succeed. 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 destination. They set a standard for fine dining and remarkable wines, and they were the first to offer live music on a regular basis. When people laughed at Chef Carlos’s idea to offer outdoor dining, Carlos just 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 Valparaiso.
Mayor Jon Costas once said Valpo’s downtown is the heart of the city. When the heart beats strong, the body is healthy. If 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 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 with family and friends. It starts the ambiance. Nestled one block east of the Magnificant Court House Square, the outdoor setting is surrounded by flowers and has a retractable awning for when the sun is intense or a chance of rain threatens the perfect night out.
The perfect al fresco dining experience starts with a pitcher of fresh sangria or a glass of wine from the famous Don Quijote cellar. Chef Carlos is passionate about wine and has something for most tastes and budgets. Not sure what to order or want to explore the wines 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.
The Tapa. 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 meant to be shared with friends and family. They pair well with wine, but many people opt for a refreshing craft beer or glass of fruit-infused sangria.
The secret to a perfect alfresco experience at Don Quijote
While many people will fill the table with a variety of tapas and explore the regions of Spain and the Mediterranean, it’s the Seafood that has won praise by the 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 brought up 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.
While Don Quijote offers many varieties of Paella, the Marinera Paella is my favorite. It includes jumbo 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 Spanish wine region. My favorite? A Tempranillo from Rioja! 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. The desserts of Don Q are considered by many to be the best in the region. The port is a dessert wine that Carlos blends in his cellar.
Nothing can top the restaurant outdoor seating experience at Don Quiote, 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 shipped daily for freshest choice, including Paella. Full wine cellar representing all the Spanish Wine Regions including crenza, reserva & grand reserva. Outdoor Seating. Live entertainment & music.
Reserve Your Table – Don Quijote Reservations
Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Dining: Da best is over dare…in Valpo!
So is Valparaiso the next second city? Meeting the Chefs in downtown Valpo might suggest it is. But with Valparaiso’s chip on the shoulder attitude mixed with an infusion of international cuisine, the Downtown Valpo Restaurants believe they have what it takes to say, da best outdoor dining destination is over dare…in Valpo!
…and Noo Yawk? Fuhgeddaboudit!
Written by- Jim Jano Janesheski
All rights reserved. Copyright 2021
Editors Note: This spot was originally published in August of 2020 and has been completely revamped & updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness