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Ticket to Ride

Al fresco fun!

Published: Monday, Aug. 4, 2014 3:00 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Aug. 4, 2014 3:01 p.m. CDT

After the endless days of snowfall and artic chill we embraced last winter I plan to savor every second outdoors that I can before summer season begins to wind down, including dining al fresco. Whether you’re looking for a date night venue or a night out with the girls, good food and drinks on a warm summer night await when you get off the train.

First stop – The Cellar Door in Downers Grove (south of tracks, 5150 Main St., www.hinsdalecellars.com). This bistro/wine shop features a brick patio outside the main entrance, the perfect place to people watch or to check out the classic cars that line downtown Downers Grove on Friday nights through the end of the month. The menu ranges from small plates to pizza.

I’ve enjoyed many gourmet cheese and charcuterie flights with a glass of wine here. Bocadillo (open-faced sandwiches with serrano ham, manchego cheese and tomato and garlic essence on toasted crostini), bruschetta and smoke salmon crostini offer small bites that you can share with the table. Or if you’re looking for more of a meal, the menu boasts a variety of paninis, sandwiches and lettuce wraps.

Second stop – Yerbabuena in Lisle (north of tracks, 4732 Main St., www.yerbabuenacuisine.com). A white picket fence surrounds the patio in front of this Mexican restaurant serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner in downtown Lisle. Many of the menu selections are recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation.

On a recent visit I tried the tacos al pastor pineapple suizo – marinated pork topped with pineapple, grilled onions, cilantro, fresh onions, lime, melted cheese and tomato chipotle salsa. My husband enjoyed the tacos pollo asado naranja chipotle – grilled chicken topped with orange chipotle salsa, pico de gallo and avocado. The libations on tap include tequila tasting with three selections, buckets of beers and seven types of margaritas.

Last stop – The Wise Boxer Pour House in Naperville (south of tracks, 16 W. Jefferson Ave., www.thewiseboxerpourhouse.com). After a short walk from the train, you only have to climb another 46 steps to the third floor patio at this pub and grill in downtown Naperville. Strands of white lights intertwine on the trellis above the seating area. There is also an enclosed seating area and bar that spills into the patio when the wall of doors is open.

Wise Boxer offers a wide variety of food from burgers and flatbreads to pasta and seafood dishes. When pursuing the menu, the boxed items are house recommended dishes, like the Wise Man’s CBLT – Parmesan encrusted Texas toast with cheddar, Swiss and American cheese, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce and tomato. Wise Boxer also offers a large craft beer selection, bourbons, whiskey, scotch, wine and mixology cocktails. When crisp autumn air finally does arrive, there are plenty of TVs on all three floors to catch the game.

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