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19
Jul 17

The Four Best Restaurants in Downtown Oak Park

One of the best things about living in Oak Park, and there are many great aspects to calling this enclave home, is the restaurant scene. You don’t have to go to Chicago for a vibrant and thriving culinary community when there’s one right here at home. There are many places where you can have a great meal, but here are our picks for the best restaurants in Oak Park.

If you’re looking for the flavors of Mexico, Maya del Sol is your spot. Known for their tasty margaritas and expansive patio, their menu will take you south of the border with items including piña colada ceviche and blackened fish tacos. Don’t miss their cochinita pibil, a dish of pork shoulder, achiote, pickled red onion, black beans, and your choice of habanero or serrano salsa on the side.

A good start to the day! #MayaPatio

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For your fresh fish fix, you’ll want to visit SEN Sushi Bar. This cozy space has some of the best sushi in the Chicago area, with melt-in-your-mouth sashimi and creative maki. For example, the SEN make is a roll of shrimp tempura, scallion, fire torch scallop, squid, lime juice, cilantro, and lemongrass reduction. Visit at lunch for their affordable bento boxes, which include soup, house salad, shrimp & veg tempura, California roll, and rice.

Welcoming summer with a summer roll. Hamachi, cilantro, wasabi mayo, and Sriracha made for a tasty welcome to the season at Sen Sushi.

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Another international favorite is Il Vicalo Trattoria, with homemade pasta, fresh seafood, and pizzas. Its name means “the alley” and it lives up to its moniker with its large outdoor patio situated between two buildings. Go on the weekends and you’ll be entertained by live music while dining on carpaccio di manzo and Ravioli della Nonna.

An All-American #lunch for your Monday. 🇺🇸 Try one of our delicious burgers today! #HolidayWeek #BurgerLove

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Winberie’s Restaurant and Bar is a casual and comfortable place that serves American cuisine in a historic building. On Sundays their brunch buffet is popular. For just $20 you can get your choice of made-to-order Belgian waffles, omelets, and benedicts, and pile up the weekly meat selection from the carving station. Dinner includes options like cedar-planked salmon and their signature classic meatloaf.

There are so many more delicious spots to dine in Oak Park, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our favorites. If we missed yours, please let us know!

5
Jul 17

Thursday Night Out in Oak Park

Thursday is the new Friday, and nowhere is that truer than in Oak Park. Each summer downtown turns into party central with Thursday Night Out, a community celebration featuring the area’s best restaurants and showcasing local boutiques to a soundtrack of live music. Here’s our guide to getting the most out of this fun weekly event!

From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Thursday through August 31 you can participate in this do-it-yourself dine-around. You’ll begin by visiting the Downtown Oak Park kiosk at Lake and Marion to pick up your booklet. For just $16, each booklet not only contains four dining vouchers, but also a voucher for $2.50 off two movie tickets at Lake Theater. If you get two booklets they’ll throw in a $5 gift certificate that you can use at Thursday Night Out shops and boutiques.

In love with Chicago

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So where you can you use those vouchers? Only at some of the best restaurants in Oak Park! You can explore a world of cuisine with baba ghanoush and pita at Jerusalem Cafe, chicken masala at Khyber Pass, or gyoza at Sushi House. Use a voucher at Q BBQ for a taste of ribs or some cornbread, and Munch is offering vegan nacho supreme and Mexican cauliflower veggie ceviche. Pick up some pre-movie snacks at Wells Street Popcorn or indulge your sweet tooth with a root beer float at Cold Stone Creamery or a big macaron at Sugar Fixe Patisserie. As you can tell, you’ll want to come back every week so you can explore all of these different tastes and more.

Need something quick and easy to eat? This Falafel by Jerusalem Cafe is one of many Middle Eastern dishes ideal for on the way 👌😏 Pic by @sadiehill

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Accompanying this tasty evening is entertainment. They’ve got live music on the streets, and the genres and bands change every week. One Thursday it may be jazz and the next, Irish. There could be Flamenco, R&B, rock, blues, or Latin. No matter what it is, you’ll be dancing from one restaurant to the next.

Flamenco 💃🏽 & Latin Jazz at Thursday Night Out tonight! Wine & beer tent hosted by Bar Louie. Ticket sales are CASH ONLY, we apologize for the inconvenience. #oakpark #oakparkil #downtownoakpark

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Thursday Night Out is your new weekly tradition, so go ahead and add it to your calendar from now until the end of the summer. For even more fun things to do in Oak Park be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

20
Jun 17

Celebrating 4th of July in Oak Park

Independence Day is one of the most festive holidays of the year. There are parades and cookouts and fireworks displays all over the country, and one of the best places to celebrate the fourth of July is Oak Park and its surrounding communities. Here’s how you can have fun on this most American of holidays.

Begin your festivities a day early at neighboring Riverside at their Concert in the Park. The concert begins at 5:30 p.m. with a performance by Tony Ocean, followed by the Brat Pack. Berwyn is also hosting an Independence Day-eve celebration with fireworks in the J. Sterling Morton High School West Stadium. They’ll have children’s activities beginning at 7 p.m. and the fireworks start at 8:30 p.m. Because you’ll be inside the stadium they ask that you do not bring in outside food and drink.

The fourth of July begins in Oak Park itself with a parade down Ridgeland between Adams and Augusta. The parade steps off from Longfellow Park at 10 a.m. and you can expect to see community groups, local sports teams, politicians, businesses and service organizations, kids, musicians, and even animal lovers and their pets. This is a popular event for families, so be sure to get their early to save your spot.

Monsters of the #4thofjuly #happy4th #kidscostumes #parade #monstermash #paradefun #kidsfashion #summerfun #oakparkparade

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That evening the night skies over Oak Park light up with a fireworks display. The show begins at dusk in the football stadium of Oak Park and River Forest High School, near East Avenue and Lake Street.

One of the great things about Oak Park is how easy it is to get downtown. Take a quick ride on the Blue Line and you can celebrate in Millennium Park with the Grant Park Music Festival’s free performance, followed by fireworks from nearby Navy Pier.

For more festivities in the area you can check out Visit Oak Park’s website, and we’ll also share fun things to do on Twitter and Facebook.

12
Jun 17

The Best Things to Do in Oak Park this Summer

Oak Park is an amazing community year-round, but it’s especially fun during the summer. The tree-lined streets are filled with fun things to do, from shopping at the robust farmers market to outdoor theatrical productions. Here are just a few of the ways you can enjoy summer in Oak Park.

The Saturday morning Oak Park Farmers Market is more than just a place to get fresh produce straight from the source, it’s also a gathering place for the community. With freshly made donuts and live bluegrass music, this market is a perfect way to get your weekend off to a great start while stocking your pantry.

Saturdays at the farmer's market >>>

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If the play’s your thing you’ll love the Oak Park Festival Theater’s outdoor performances in Austin Gardens. Located near downtown, the troupe performs classics such as Macbeth and modern productions like The Amish Project. The shows are ticketed and you can have a picnic before they begin. Both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are nearby.

You can wait for the weekend to go out and have fun, but in Oak Park you don’t need to! Every week through August downtown turns into a giant progressive dinner with Thursday Night Out. For $16 you get a ticket booklet that lets you choose from a special menu at four different restaurants. There’s entertainment on the street, or you can cool off in the movie theater with your voucher good for $2.50 off two adult tickets.

Good turn out for Macbeth, beautiful weather – and a curried fish sandwich from Carnivore Oak Park's Ministry of Food truck.

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Vintage car fans will want to head to Oak Park’s next door neighbor for Berwyn’s Cruise Nights. Several Tuesdays throughout the summer the town’s Depot District becomes a showcase for classic vehicles. You can show off your own car, truck, motorcycle or scooter at no charge and you don’t even have to register. The streets are lined with everything from ice cream to martinis, so you can make it a fun evening for the family or a great night with friends.

These are just a few of the many fun things to do this summer in Oak Park. For more ideas, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

27
May 17

The Best Wine Bars in Chicagoland

A good wine bar can make all the difference between a great night out and a lame one. And here in windy Chicagoland, there are all kinds of them.

But which ones are the good ones? Which ones will be guaranteed to give you a great night out? We went out to find the best and bring them back to you. So raise a glass because it starts right now.

We began our tour at the J9 Wine Bar over at 1961 N. Halsted Street. The J9 opened six months or so ago and has rapidly established a friendly presence in the area. It’s cute, charming and romantic with an extensive menu, and glass and full bottle options. It’s perfect for a date and there’s a fireplace too! We found the staff to be really knowledgeable about the wines which was really helpful. The music wasn’t too loud making it a perfect place for a conversation over a great glass of wine. Highly recommended!

The sign is up! #J9WineBar #eaterchicago #dnainfochicago #chicagomagazine #lincolnpark #wine🍷 #cocktail #winebar #chicagolife

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We also checked out the Penumbra Wine Bar and fell in love with that one too. Located over on 3309 W. Fullerton Ave (between Kimball Ave and Spaulding Ave/Logan Square), is closed Mondays but is open 5-10pm on Tue-Thurs, 5-11 on Fri-Say and from 4-9pm on Sundays. The name Penumbra is inspired by the owner’s experience living the first part of her life in Ecuador. Having no electricity, candles were used for light thus creating a space of partial illumination = PENUMBRA. The romantic and penumbra lit atmosphere is accompanied with a diverse wine list, local craft beer and unique handcrafted artisanal cocktails that introduce an aspect of wine in each drink. The food is a unique twist of Latin-inspired steak and seafood dishes with an aspect of wine incorporated into them.

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The Twisted Vine – over on 3530 N. Halsted Street – has a great ambience and none of the snobbishness that certain wine bars come with. The Twisted Vine began life as a wine and gift store but around 2013 converted into a lounge-style bar specializing in wine and whiskey. It’s a very friendly, intimate establishment and often have entertainment on hand (singers, bands, etc). They do offer up a very small food menu so if you’re hungry, this isn’t the place for you. But the selection of wines is as varied as it is amazing. We sampled the European wine flight, the Spanish Red and the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and loved all of them.

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Wherever you decide to go, please remember to drink responsibly. Have a great time and raise a glass in our direction!

20
May 17

The 3 Best Places for Desert in Oak Park

Nothing says “I love you” to yourself more than dessert! Something sweet to round off dinner is a wonderful thing and something worth treating yourself to every once in a while.

So where are the best desserts in Oak Park to be found? We went out and sampled so many that we’re going into sugar rehab for a week – but before we do, we’re presenting them here for you to peruse.

Macaron heaven. #buychicago 📷: @fatimaibrahim27

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So the question begs; can you go wrong if you name yourself Sugar Fixe? The Sugar Fixe Patisserie has and we have the answer; clearly not! They serve up some unbelievable breakfast pastries – from sweet and savory Brioches to all sorts of croissants. But that’s just the tip of the dessert iceberg; you can find tarts, pastries, cookies, cupcakes and dessert cakes oh my! They also have Macarons of all types of flavors as well as custom cakes. Sugar Fixe uses all-natural ingredients and offer up some gluten-free and dairy-free sweets. And a quick shout out to their coffee too; we sampled the La Colombe and loved it.

There’s a new gunslinger in town – and that’s the Happy Apple Pie Shop that opened earlier this year. Now, let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way; the pies. A-ma-zing. We sampled the maple custard pie and the apple pie and loved both equally! They even do dinner-esque pies such as spinach, ham & cheese quiches! The crusts are flaky and the filings are delicious. But that’s the half of it. You see, what makes the Happy Apple so darn happy is that its work force includes people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. So there’s NO reason you shouldn’t be stuffing your faces with Happy Apple pies other than, of course, diabetes.

No list of Best Desserts in Oak Park is complete without La Casa del Churro Café! They make the best churros in town along with great coffees. We sampled the cappuccino hazelnut, ice cream and, of course the churros – and loved everything we could stuff in our mouths. The churros are soft and fresh and the chocolate filling is delicious. Oh, and the Oreo Frappe was nothing short of Heaven.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there now and satiate your sweet tooth with some of the best desserts in Oak Park!

7
May 17

Mother’s Day Brunch in Oak Park

Who doesn’t love their mom?! With Mother’s Day around the corner – that’s Sunday May 14th, fact fans – we thought it best to look into what upcoming Mother’s Day brunches are taking place around Oak Park so you’re not left scrambling for something to eat at the last minute.

Hemmingway’s Bistro does a great Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet with a French twist. The menu combines classic French dishes with the freshest Midwest ingredients. Each day there is a Plat du Jour featuring such staples as Coq au Vin, Caussoulet Toulousain, Bouillabaisse, Beef Wellington and Duck al’ Orange. The daily specials reflect the chef’s love for fresh seafood. Using mostly East-coast seafood flown in from Boston daily, the chef creates dishes like wild mushroom-crusted halibut on horseradish whipped potatoes and roasted sea bass on Caussoulet beans. There is also a Parisian seafood bar offering towers of Plateau de Fruit de Mer with fresh oysters, clams, shrimp, and lobster. So Mom should be pretty darn happy!

Steak and Eggs!

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You could also try the Knife Restaurant. It’s a steakhouse that offers up a buffet for Moms until 2pm on Mother’s Day. It’s a little pricey but the food is good and it’s great value compared to downtown steakhouses. The food, service and atmosphere is outstanding and Mom will love it (if she’s a meat-eater!).

Perhaps Mom is more interested in an afternoon tea – and that’s where the Pavilion at The Langham steps in. The Pavilion is home to the Langham Afternoon Tea (with Wedgwood!) an afternoon tea that debuted at the original Langham in London back in 1865. Located on the second floor, its soaring ceiling and marvelous views of the city make Pavilion an elegant space to unwind and converse with a glowing fireplace and grand piano as a backdrop. Throw in some live music (expert classical pianists) and you’ve got a classic tea that Mom is sure to love.

When you are done with finals 💁

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Finally, there’s the Wildfire. Step back in time to when going out for dinner meant something really special. From the decor to the jazz music, Wildfire has the style and warmth that makes it perfect for celebrating with Mom. The extensive menu features broiled steaks and chops, wood-roasted seafood and roasted meats, all prepared in an open kitchen. Signature dishes include Horseradish Crusted Filet Mignon, Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut, Wildfire Chopped Salad and Cedar Planked Salmon. So order Mom a signature martini and enjoy the 1940s supper club experience of Wildfire!

Wherever you wind up taking Mom this year, she’ll appreciate it – so have a GREAT Mother’s Day. And thanks to ALL of our moms for all the hard work they’ve put into raising us. We love you!

 

5
May 17

4 Pet Friendly Restaurants in Oak Park

We all feel the pain of having to leave our furry friend behind when we go out for dinner – but what if we didn’t have to?

There are plenty of great pet-friendly restaurants right here in Oak Park and we took our little guy out to sample a bunch of them so we could line up the very best and present them to you. Ready, set, bark!

Our little one, Vimto, loved River Shannon – and why wouldn’t he? Located over at 425 W. Armitage Ave, this dog-friendly Irish pub will serve your furry a bowl of water. Vimto especially enjoyed the treat jar they also have but then Vimto will sell himself and his family for a treat. The only drawback is that River Shannon don’t have a full menu – just Paninis and pizza – but it’s more than enough to be able to sit back, enjoy a drink, and have your dog by your side. And Vimto loved it!

I remember my first time at @rivershannonpub! ••• #overserved #rookie #lightweight #sundayfunday

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Vimto also loved Dunlays on Clark over at, no surprises here, 2600 N. Clark St. Their menu features delicious fare such as wood-grilled artichokes, sashimi tuna, their infamous Wrightwood salad, delicious lobster deviled eggs, and their renowned skillet chocolate chip cookie dessert (no, Vimto wasn’t allowed near chocolate). They also offer a variety of martinis featuring fresh-squeezed juices, as well as draft beers, microbrews and a unique variety of wines by the glass or bottle. They also have daily specials so check out their website for more.

We then checked out The Walk In located at 2727 N. Milwaukee Ave. They are not a restaurant but a “speak easy” that’s attached to a liquor store – but as well as great drinks, they have live DJ’s on the weekend. They also have some daily specials with $6 cocktails on Mondays, $2 Miller High Life’s on Tuesday and $5 wine pours on Wednesday as well as a Happy Hour Mon-Fri from 5-8pm. Vimto really enjoyed the tunes (well, we think he did)

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Finally, we stopped into the Pub Royale and wow, wow, and wow. Named one of America’s 50 Best New Restaurants in 2016 by Bon Appetit, Pub Royale serves up Anglo-Indian fare in an eclectic setting. We sampled their Lamb Dumplings (delicious), Chicken Tikka Kati Roll (amazing) and Butter Chicken (yes please!) and loved them all. They have a dog-friendly patio that Vimto enjoyed tremendously – as he did eating any and all scraps we handed over to him.

Oak Park is filled with great pet-friendly places so throw a leash on your furry bestie and get out there and enjoy them together!

24
Apr 17

The Best Late Night Eats in Oak Park

It’s late. And you’re hungry. Whether it’s because you’ve been out drinking, at the movies, or even still working, you’re ready to chow down and the only thing stopping you is…well, you’re not really sure where the best late night eats in Oak Park are. It’s a great question so we decided to go find a great answer which is why we’re here today; a whole blog devoted to a handful of the best late night eats in town!

Our quest began at Scratch Kitchen & Lounge that is open until midnight Sun-Thurs and 2am on Fri-Sat.  The service is fantastic and the food phenomenal! We sampled Da South Burger, the Pulled Pork on Nan, and Mediterranean Fries and couldn’t find fault with any of them. Delicious is what they are! Although the lounge is small and seating can be tight, it simply adds to the intimate ambience. They also have great trivia games on hand too as well as live music a couple nights a week.

Fish Fry and Live Music tonight! The fish fry will run out fast…live music from 7-10!!

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Now who out there’s been to Submarine Tender? It’s open until 2am every night of the week except Friday and Saturday – when it’s open until 4am! Do they ever go to bed? The sandwiches here are amazing – the servings are more than generous but their Butter Garlic Fries are THE BOMB.  The BG Fries (as they call them) are nothing short of addictive! The only downside we could find to this place is the parking which isn’t very good. But those BG Fries make everything worth the wait!

Goldyburgers is a great dive bar that serves up burgers until 2am every night except Fri-Sat where they’re open until 3am. They serve up big, thick, juice burgers in a dingy and dark atmosphere that says “you’re out late, huh?” We sampled the Big Daddy which came with mushrooms, bacon, lettuce, tomato and more – it was big and delish! We also tried the onion rings (great) and New York Cheesecake (how can you go wrong with cheesecake?). Bear in mind they don’t accept credit cards (cash only) but the prices are good so it won’t bankrupt your wallet. Also, here’s a tip; be sure to ask about the speciality burgers (like the avocado burger) that aren’t on the menu.

Once you’ve finished at any of these late night eateries it’s probably time to roll home and crash so we bid you a fond good night – as it’s time for us to do the same!

16
Apr 17

Your Guide to the Frank Lloyd Wright Museum

There’s museums – then there are museums – and the Frank Lloyd Wright Museum is one of those places. Steeped in Wright’s exceptional talent, it’s a place that gathers some of the most amazing sights to behold from his universe. It’s so good, in fact, that we’ve decided to put together the definitive guide to the Frank Lloyd Wright Museum. And it starts right here!

It’s a beautiful day for the Chicago @cubs parade! We’re excited to #FlyTheW at #FrankLloydWright’s Home and Studio in Oak Park. #cubsparade #worldseries

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First off, you should definitely check out the guided interior tour. Here you’ll see where Wright used his first home to experiment with design concepts that ultimately led to his architectural philosophy. In fact, it was in his adjacent studio that Wright and his associates dreamed up a whole new take on American architecture that they dubbed “Prairie Style.”  This tour is about an hour but you need to purchase tickets in advance. Also; good to know that they allow still photography on these tours (but no video).

You can also opt for the Historic Neighborhood Walking Tour. Oak Park is home to the world’s biggest collection of Wright-designed buildings so you don’t have to go too far! This option takes you through the History District with a self-guided audio tour which takes in the exteriors of a huge selection of significant buildings which are supplemented by archival photographs. You also need to purchase tickets for this so head here for that info.

Another tour you should take is the Robie House guided interior tour. It’s an icon of modern architecture and here you can see what Prairie Style looks like when it comes of age. Trained interpreters are on hand to offer insights into this place that’s over a 100 years old and you can visit the children’s playroom, entry hall, living room, dining room, guest room, master bedroom, butler’s pantry and the kitchen.

A side view of the studio entrance at #FrankLloydWright's Home and Studio in #OakPark. #architecture #atthetrust

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You’ll also want to take in the guided tour of the Rookery Light Court.  Set in the heart of the financial district, this 1905 commission had Wright remodel the Rookery light court and lobbies and did so – spectacularly – by blending his vision with the ornamental ironwork already in place.

You can also combine some of these tours with the Oak Park Combination Tour that takes in the Frank Lloyd Wright Home, Studio Guided Interior Tour AND Historic Neighborhood Walking Tour. It’s a three hour mashup filled with history, culture, and art. You can get those tickets here.

There are many other tours you can take; find those here. Whichever ones you take, you can guarantee an amazing time for all as you soak in the national treasures that Wright bequeathed us all.

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