Outdoor dining: Escape

If you're looking for a quick get-away from the busyness of your daily life, check out some of these quiet dining areas, located away from the hustle and bustle of it all: Bennison's Bakery (1000 Davis St., Evanston; 847-328-9434; bennisonscakes.com) Aromas waft from the kitchen's screen door to six tables. Bracing coffee and bites (from $2) of sticky pecan rolls, flaky almond horns, croissants, warm ham/cheese sandwiches. Hours: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sat.; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sun. Gruppo di Amici (1508 Jarvis St.; 773-508-5565; gruppodiamici.com) You can't always please your squeeze or kids. Plop yourself at six tables, let the friends roam to discover an Irish pub, take-out gourmet shop, coffee shop and Indian/Pakistani restaurant. Here enjoy Roman-style pizzas, penne, antipasti. From $8. Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs. and Sun.; 5 to 11 p.m. Fri., Sat; closed Mon. Piccolo Sogno (464 N. Halsted St.; 312-421-0077; piccolosognorestaurant.com) Flee congestion of Grand, Halsted and Milwaukee into this leafy oasis. Fresh takes on Italian on veggies, pasta, pizza, seafood. Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sun.-Thurs.; to 11 p.m. Fri., Sat. Taxim (1558 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-252-1558) Pick the sidewalk patio or rooftop (July) for Greek cuisine and wines. From $5 for appetizers and combination plates; breakfast yogurt bar. Hours: 8 a.m. to midnight for café/bar daily; dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Wed. through Mon.; closed Tuesday. Topaz Cafe (780 Village Center, Burr Ridge; 630-654-1616; topazcafe.com) West suburbanites love to unwind at this 80-seat patio. Highlights of the American menu include superior fish and pasta dishes and clever desserts. Hours: lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Mon-Sat. and 4 to 8 p.m. Sun. --Margaret Sheridan (Photo: Branko Palikuca, owner of Topaz Cafe, on the restaurant's patio/Alex Garcia, Chicago Tribune)
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