This Weekend’s Chicago Essentials: Hanging On to Summer


Chicago’s summer doesn’t end after Labor Day. It’s so warm and wonderful in the Windy City, in fact, that some of the best outdoor events of the year happen during the first few weeks of September. So if you’re in the mood for some alfresco weekend fun, take a look at our top picks for late-summer happenings this week, from opera on a picnic blanket to bourbon on a rooftop.

Lyric Opera of Chicago kicks off its 60th season with a free concert at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion at 7:30 pm Saturday, September 6. Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic basket, chairs, and blankets to enjoy some of the season’s upcoming attractions, such as the overture from Tannhäuser, the act one finale of Tosca, and the emotional final scene of Don Giovanni. Not in the mood to pack a picnic? Head across the street to Acanto, a new southern Italian-focused eatery specializing in hand-crafted pastas, stone-oven pizzas and artisanal ingredients.

The annual Windy City Wine Festival occurs 4-10 pm Friday, September 5 and 2-8 pm Saturday, September 6. Fine vino from around the world will be enjoyed under tents near the Buckingham Fountain. If you’re not into large crowds or standing around swirling wine glasses, you can always head over to City Winery in the West Loop. There, you can settle onto the outdoor patio and drink delightful red, white, or rosé that’s made on-premises.

Looking for a great brunch outdoors with a little flavor? Tanta‘s rooftop is the place to be for even more weekend fun for the exotic, Peruvian vibe and updates on traditional Latin dishes. Located at 118 W. Grand Ave., Tanta’s brunch appeal includes chicharrón waffles (Belgium waffle, crispy pork belly glazed with panca chili honey, seasonal berry compote), huevos Tanta (organic fried eggs, braised beef cheeks, crispy hash browns, parsley sauce) and mimosas amped up with Peruvian passion fruit. No, it’s not as good as it sounds. It’s even better.

And whoo hoo for you if you love bourbon. September is National Bourbon Month, and several major cocktail lounges boast superior selections that you can enjoy in the great outdoors. Check out the rooftop at Drumbar (201 E. Delaware St.), the intimate patio at the award-winning Aviary (955 W. Fulton Market), or the neighborhood-friendly sidewalk cafe at Lady Gregory’s (5260 N. Clark St.) for your whiskey fix.

It might be September, but Chicago’s not about to head inside until it’s absolutely necessary.

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