Outdoor Dining in Valparaiso

It’s always the right time to talk about outdoor dining in the Vale of Paradise, Valparaiso. As the weather starts to warm up we start thinking about those summer nights on the patios on more than 30 spots in the downtown area alone – and dozens more throughout the city. You could easily map out a
summer’s worth of tasting and sipping on 1.2 miles of deliciousness from classic margherita pies at
Amici Pizza to some of the best pub grub around at Franklin House!

How to spend 3 summer evenings in Downtown Valparaiso


#1 Thursday Night Throwdown

You’re in for a treat if it’s the first Thursday of the month when Valpo’s downtown dining partners have their “First Thursday” drink and appetizer specials. Nothing kicks off a fun Thursday better than a crisp IPA at Ironwood Brewing. Master brewer Barb is almost always behind the bar slinging suds and can help set up a flight – but make sure you claim a spot before a group of regular Thursday night cyclists pedal in!

You’ll be ready for apps and you won’t go wrong at Radius. Don’t miss the Mac-N-Cheese Hushpuppies, Sweet and Spicy Cauliflower and the Bango Mango Tempura Shrimp. It’s never the wrong time for a little eye-opener with one of Radius’ Bloody Mary’s. See if you can keep up with owner Chris who bounces around making sure everyone is happy.

That music you hear is thumping in Central Park Plaza – the pride of downtown. Valpo’s Summer Concert Series brings tons of talent and groove to the Park. Bring a blanket or lawn chair to set up camp – or if you get there early enough grab a stool at Four Father’s Brewing mobile brew pub. That line you see forming is no doubt for Rollingstone Baker where you can get a woodfired pizza, flatbread, amazing salads, and a nice selection of canned brews. Here’s a free tip – order the meatballs – the best we’ve had!

#2 Tuesday Kids-day

It’s not just all booze and grooves in downtown Valpo, there is plenty of fun for kids – and dogs! Named as one of the best in the state for ice cream – don’t miss Valpo Velvet for hometown handcrafted ice cream cones, shakes and sundaes. The Brown Family has been a summer tradition for over 75 years. 

Check out ValpoEvents’ website for its Movie In The Park schedule on Tuesday nights. Snack vendors are plentiful, and of course being the hometown of Orville Redenbacher, Valpo is flush with popcorn! Snap a selfie with Orville on the park bench on Lincolnway. I’ll be there with my Chicago Dog from the Vienna Beef cart under the red umbrella.


Your pooch will dig the vibe too – many of the patios are dog friendly with water bowls and treats.


#3 Blues & BBQ Festival

You might not think jazz and blues when you think about Valpo – but you’d be wrong daddy-o! This festival brings some of the best of Chicago Blues and Barbeque to downtown Valpo. This festival takes place on June 23rd, and its something you don’t want to miss. Now that you’ve got the funk, head on over to Stacks Bar and Grill, and speak easy with friends on the rooftop lounge. For those in the know, you can give your server the secret nod and go off-menu for the Southside. Legend is that Al Capone himself fancied the Southside with its aromatic gin, lime, soda and mint leaves – you know if its good enough for Scarface, it’s good enough for me! Take in the view and watch the sun set in the western skies with some of the best apps in town. The apps tend to rotate in and out and are always changing – but they’re all amazing. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be there on its Chicago Steak House pop-up night and enjoy a prime aged grade-A cut – I love the ribeye. 

You also can’t go wrong at Parea! with its quaint patio and large open doors, huge bar and delicious menu. Ask for Amber, an ol’ high school classmate of mine – tell her Andrew Knies sent you. She gets a kick out of how people mangle my name – she’ll tell you my name is really Andy. Her and my family are the only ones that get away with that! 

Complete List of Outdoor Dining in Valparaiso
(From East to West)