Chicago Botanic Gardens is a really nice place to visit. When the weather is good, you can spend hours and hours there, enjoying all the beautiful flowers and nature scenery. You can also have a great meal at the Chicago Botanic Gardens in their restaurant called Garden Cafe And Grille. The Garden Cafe is the portion of the restaurant that’s located indoors, and The Garden Grille is the part that’s outdoors. When the weather is nice, needless to say everybody wants to sit outside :)
In the Garden Cafe portion of the restaurants, there are pre-made items like pizza slices, salads, yogurt cups and sandwiches. It’s like a cafeteria – you grab your items, put them on a tray, go to the cash register, pay for your stuff, then grab a seat and eat. Even though the Garden Cafe is inside, you can sit outside in the Garden Grille section – just take your tray outside and find a table.
In the Garden Grille section, they cook your food to order. Here are some things that I remember from the Grill menu: grilled chicken sandwich, cheeseburger, hot dog, veggie plate. Their sandwiches are served with potato chips and a pickle. The drinks are canned soft drinks and canned ice tea. Garden Grill also serves alcohol – they have beer and wine.
I have tried grilled chicken sandwich, cheeseburger and a veggie plate, and they all have been good. Here are the pictures of the cheeseburger and a veggie plate that I took with my cellphone:
Picture Of A Cheeseburger From The Garden Cafe And Grille:
Picture Of A Veggie Plate (a.k.a. Veggie Stack) From The Garden Cafe And Grill:
Veggie Plate (Veggie Stack) is the vegetarian selection of the Chicago Botanic Gardens Grille. It consists of Israeli couscous (large couscous), grilled portobello mushrooms, grilled bell peppers, fresh mozzarella cheese, grilled onions and yummy sauce. All those goodies are stacked together in a tower, and there are toasted bread slices on the side. Veggie Stack is really tasty – I am not a vegetarian, but I have ordered it several times and really enjoy it.
In the Garden Grille section, you order your food from the person at the stand and they give you a pager. You then take a seat at the table of your choice, and they pager buzzes when your food is ready. You go to the stand and carry your food on the tray to your table. At the Garden Cafe And Grill, you also clean up after yourself – you take everything on the tray and discard stuff into 3 containers: one container is labeled “Recycling”, another “Compost” and the third “Landfill”. Chicago Botanic Gardens is really into the environmental stuff! They also don’t have straws and plastic lids on their cups in order to reduce waste.
Self service means no tips! In the Chicago Botanic Gardens Garden Cafe And Grille you pay for your food at the register, and you are done – you don’t need to leave tips. I don’t leave tips myself, and I haven’t seen anybody leave tips.
The cost for the food menu items at the Garden Grille section is around $10. However, drinks are really expensive – expect to pay $3 for a can of Coke! For a lunch for 2, we end up spending $30 – that’s with drinks and tax. If you opt to drink water, you’ll save money :)
I really like their ice tea, so I always end up getting it. It’s Steaz pomegranate blueberry acai ice tea, and it goes really well with the outside meal.
And of course, the best part of dining in the Chicago Botanic Gardens Cafe And Grill is eating outside in the beautiful surroundings. The outside seating in this Botanic Gardens restaurant is on the desk overlooking the pond, with beautiful trees all around. The nature setting is really magnificent, and I keep coming back there for wonderful outdoor meals.