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Eating for summer holidays in Chicago - outdoor July 4 and more

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There is no place better to celebrate holidays than our beloved Chicago. And if the weather cooperates, it’s just like being on vacation in your own home town. Some of my fondest memories center around a glass of wine on a sunny patio – with or without friends, it’s like a magical balm for the spirit. Sipping. Tasting. Basking. And watching fellow spirits go by.

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If you’re interested in finding a holiday to celebrate, even if none of the famous holidays is imminent, check out the listings in Chase’s Calendar of Events. Since 1957 this publication has been the official repository of information about holidays around the world. Today, for instance, June 24 is National Columnists’ Day. So, you see, as a columnist for Examiner, I have an official reason to crack open a bottle of champagne today – not that I need one of course.

For you single ladies out there, did you know we have an official holiday on August 4 each year, Single Working Women’s Day. And in fact we have an entire week, Single Working Women’s Week. So mark your calendars to celebrate in early August and take your favorite single working woman out to lunch.

And meanwhile, here’s another unique holiday – National Ceviche Day!

Packing House, 1113 W. Randolph, celebrates National Ceviche Day on June 28. Executive Chef Amanda Barnes created savory ceviche dishes to fit summer diners’ move to light refreshing foods. Look for: Halibut Ceviche with Pickled Ramps and Crispy Garlic ($19); Snapper Ceviche with Chilies, Dill, Oregano, Basil, Cilantro, Citrus, Feta and EVOO ($17); Ahi Tuna with Kohlrabi Salsa Verde ($17); and Hamachi with Pickled Peppers, Grated Wasabi, Black Garlic, Yuzu and EVOO Escolar, Toasted Coriander, Chilies, EVOO, Lemon and Thyme ($16). Check out the whole Packing House menu.

And now onto the famous holiday of American independence. Go for broke with July 4 outdoor party places around Chicago. And did you know that people all over the world give parties to celebrate “Let’s American Party”? They seem to think it’s very cool that Americans use red plastic cups at their parties. Read more below under Lotties.

Castaways Bar & Grill, 1603 N. Lake Shore Dr. (North Avenue Beach). Wednesday, July 2 to Sunday, July 6 dance, drink and eat your cares away with DJ music from 11am to 11pm. Lunch & dinner til 9pm – fresh salads, wraps, sandwiches, and quesadillas accompanied by frozen cocktails and even Corona in a can (no bottles on the beach). If you’re feeling flush, you can even rent a cabana for you and 10 or 11 of your best friends ($1500 minimum food and beverage purchase). What a party idea!

LandShark Beer Garden, 700 E. Grand (at the East End of Navy Pier), offers live music from Wednesday through the weekend, plus it’s a prime spot for watching the fireworks on both Wednesday, July 2 and Friday, July 4. Live music starts at 7pm on Wednesday, then three different bands play starting 2pm each day through Sunday. Cocktails and frozen drinks spark up picnic foods like pizza, bratwurst soaked in Landshark Lager, Italian beef, hot wings, hamburgers, Chicago style hot dogs and more.

Lotties Pub, 1925 W. Cortland. Friday, July 4 enjoy a "Let's American Party" with specials like $4 Redds Apple Ale, $4 Miller Lite, and $4 Blue Moon. You’re invited to wear your best "American Party" attire – sports jerseys, trucker hats, flannel, and Solo® cup accessories. They say these parties are sweeping Europe and other countries. For more information, search hashtag #letsamericanparty or visit Let’s American Party.

MAK Restaurant, 1924 W.Division St. Now serving up alcoholic beverages and casual al fresco dining on the 28-seat patio. Check out the Asian Beers like Sapporo, Kirin Light, Tiger, Tsing Tao, Lucky Buddha and Hitachino White as well as sake and wine. MAK combines traditional Chinese flavors with a healthy and modern twist on recipes handed down through generations.

Riva Café Outdoor Dining and Fireworks, 700 E. Grand, Navy Pier. This casual side of seafood-specialist Riva Crab House boasts a 150-plus-seat patio with prime spots for enjoying the fireworks on Wednesday, July 2 and Friday, July 4. Enjoy cocktails or wine with seafood dishes, gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads.

Takito Kitchen, 2013 W. Division. Friday, July 4 to Sunday, July 6. Try the $20 wine and taco pairing on the sidewalk patio. Fried Chicken Tacos with your choice of Chandon American Summer (split), or Charles and Charles Rosé (glass).

Terrace on Clark Bar & Grille, 77 W. Wacker Dr. Thursday, July 3 and Friday, July 4, half-off select appetizers and flatbreads from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and $5 Ketel One cocktails. Dine al fresco on the 100-seat patio, one of the largest in Chicago's Loop.

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