Some of the very best eats in the area are in the Chicago suburbs…
BY DANIELLE BRAFF
Chicago is a foodie’s dream. But there’s no reason to schlep your way to the city for a good meal: these suburbs can more than compete with Chicago when it comes to fine dining.
We’re not sure if the bar was raised in Evanston because it’s the home of Northwestern University (visiting parents want good food), because chefs like to live here or because it’s simply become the place to open a restaurant outside of Chicago…but we find ourselves here all.the.time because we crave the Evanston dining scene.
The Barn Steakhouse
This modern classic steakhouse arrived in Evanston thanks to Amy Morton, a fourth-generation Morton. Get dry-aged, wet-aged, anything. They simply make a good steak.
Let’s start with the beer. It’s got an actual beer-focused menu, and that menu will tell you the distance the brews have traveled. We especially love Temperance, which just wandered 1 ½ miles down the road. Pair it with the farm-to-table menu of local food, like fried cheese curds and the grass-fed burger.
Small plates and entrees of upscale American food are yummy, along with its eclectic decor.
There’s a mix here of old staples and new restos – all of which the Oak Parkers are super happy to support.
The Little Gem Cafe
They’ve got live jazz on Mondays and Tuesdays; fantastic happy hour deals (half-price drinks and apps) and the best locally sourced food in a sexy environment. Translation: perfect date night.
So technically, this is a farm-to-table butcher shop. But ask nicely, and they’ll take the fresh meat and transform it into a bacon burger for you on-the-spot (there’s a tiny seating area). Or grab a fish sandwich or seasonal meal. This is the best fast food ever.
The fancy newcomer to Oak Park is American food with a Mediterranean influence. It’s fancy, yet kids are welcome. The perfect combo.
This fancy Chicago suburb seems to have it all: Ravinia’s music festival, proximity to the beach and all the restaurants.
This is just a bar in the same way that New York is just a city. It’s a bar that’s also a restaurant that has live music and the best burgers in town.
It’s your all-American spot and a destination restaurant. It’s a casual spot where you can get burgers, steak, fish and great salads. They also have a really good selection of craft beers and independent wines.
Abigail’s American Bistro
It’s a small neighborhood restaurant that’s a true gem. It’s popular for lunch and for dinner, and stand-outs include the roasted beets, the salmon and the kale salad.
The Northern burb is a fancy spot that’s got great schools, beautiful homes, stunning beaches and some extraordinary dining choices.
The newly remodeled French restaurant by chef/owner Michael Lachowicz just has five tables, but those five tables may be the best five tables in all of Illinois. Yes, it’s hard to get a reservation. Yes, it’s worth it.
This restaurant, along with Silencieux and George Trois are all the brainchild of Lachowicz, and they sit under one roof in Winnetka. Aboyer is the largest of the three, and the only one with an a la carte menu. It’s the livelier restaurant, where you can grab a quick – yet very tasty – bite.
The Greek spot rocks the patio in the summer, but go here any time of year for casual lamb, steak and seafood.
It’s a relatively large suburb (population about 75,000) with so many diverse restaurants reflecting the population.
Technically, this isn’t a restaurant. But it’s the place to go if you’re a foodie. This is a massive Japanese grocery store (yes, they sell tons of sushi) along with a massive Japanese food court. We’ve been to Japan, and this supermarket makes you feel like you’re in Tokyo.
With three dining rooms and a cocktail lounge plus live entertainment, this is a throw-back to old-school dining. Take it all the way back with some oysters Rockefeller or surf & turf.
Restaurateur Scott Harris founded this Italian joint, and it’s the ideal spot for celebrations big and small. They’ve got pasta, seafood, pizza and massive desserts (the cream puffs with pistachio gelato are outstanding).
There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t…without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.