Is there Chow in Chicago's Western Suburbs?
I'll add to others: If you can get to Emilio's in Hillside, don't miss it. Excellent fare, very attentive wait staff (w/out being intrusive), and a surprisingly excellent restaurant in Hillside, which is not known for its culinary outlets. Emilio typically hangs out at this restaurant and I think it's by far his best one.
Emilio also is a partner in a restaurant in LaGrange called Sunflower Bistro. You'd exit the Eisenhower at Mannheim Rd./LaGrange Rd. south (just as you would for Emilio's) and drive about 10 or 15 minutes into LaGrange. It's a smaller place on LaGrange Rd., just south of the RR tracks. It's not tapas-oriented like Emiio's but the food is good. LaGrange also has Cafe 36, which is an inventive, fine-dining experience. (And Vie in Western Springs is very good, although you may want to check a menu because it's not long.)
Just ate at New Rebozzo last night just north of the Eisenhower Expy off Harlem Ave. in Oak Park. Excellent food, fun atmosphere and a quirky owner/chef who caught onto the phrase, "Oh my God," and never let go. You'll know what I mean if you end up there. Had dinner at Mamacita in Marina district of SF last week and had an itch for haute Mexican and scratched it at New Rebozzo.
Oak Brook Center has a number of Lettuce Entertain You restaurants that are good.
You won't go hungry in this part of the world.
Scapa Italian Kitchen located at 31 South Prospect, Clarendon Hills has been receiving rave reviews from family and friends who are also strong foodies. I cannot give it my own seal of approval as it seems a bit pricey for me, but from everything I have heard it is worth checking out.
Scapa's is the closest thing in the western suburbs to La Scarola- one of my all time favorite restaurants in Chicago. I have never had a dish I did not enjoy immensely. Their salads are excellent and their fish dishes have been uniformly outstanding. As far as pasta, get the 8 finger cavatelli with bolognese, but you will not be disappointed with any other choices. Noisy, lots of families, but, strangely, like La Scarola, the kind of place that you can still enjoy as a couple because of the ambience and wonderful food. My only complaint is the same one I have with La Scarola- short wine list. At Scapa's, at least you can get a couple of decent ones by the glass which is more than I can say about La Scarola.
Now that this thread has resurfaced, I thought I'd put in a plug for
6822 Windsor Ave
(between Grove Ave & Kenilworth Ave)
Berwyn, IL 60402
This place is a great example of the "neighborhood Italian joint." It's fairly new (people tell me the place used to be a sushi restaurant, which is borne out by the recycled miso soup bowls), and the food is consistently excellent. Pastas and sauces are always fresh, simple and superb. I also like the rapini, the grilled or fried calamari, and any of the special fish dishes. The seafood lasagna, a special that I tried recently, was heartbreakingly rich and delicious. I've probably had about 10 meals there, and I have never been disappointed - which big plus for a neighborhood place with fairly modest aspirations. This joint ought to be as packed as its neighbor, Arnie Salerno's, because the food is a dozen times better.
The owner, Giovanni, is always there with his wife and friendly staff. He has gone out of his way to accommodate us when we've had big parties there (once even opening the restaurant on a night they were closed, just for us, and then cooking the entire meal himself).
This is not a high-concept place, but the food is good, it is cooked by talented people, and it is very friendly. Desserts and wine list have room to improve.
I know this is a bit further west, but this place has fabulous food.
Sugo Italian Ristorante
1307 E. Main St.
St. Charles 60174
From their red sauce to their meats, you will have a great Italian meal on the west side. Also, it is a family run affair with a decent wine list. Favorites include the following:
8 finger cavatelli (Home made pasta)
Not too long ago, we drove for what seemed like hours, peering into every neon strip mall until we finally found the elusive Katy's Dumpling House. We had high hopes, given the rave reviews in the Trib, on this board and elsewhere. We loved dumplings more than almost anything in the world, so we would have driven all night. But the meal didn't live up to the hype, and we are now a bit confused as to the origin of said hype.
Arriving at the dinner hour, we perused the menu and then ordered the dishes we'd read about: a noodle dish with pork, string beans with chilis, and, of course, dumplings. Having just visited Toronto and enjoyed loads of interesting dumplings at streetside dives even dirtier-looking and humbler than Katy's, we were surprised that there was only one choice of dumpling at a place named, er, Dumpling House, but we gamely ordered them and then popped open a cold one from the 6-pack we'd brought along, sat back at the sticky table, and prepared to enjoy ourselves.
Suddenly a man wailing "Nooooooo" ran from the kitchen to our table and snapped at us that beer was verboten. Not such a pleasant man. OK, understood -- we took a styrofoam cup and poured a bit of tepid water with some stuff floating in it from a pitcher on the counter. Not quite the same, but we understood from the wailing man that there was some sort of anti-BYO ordinance in the community of Westmont.
Shortly, the food arrived, and we found the sliced noodle dish and beans to be exceedingly greasy and quite bland, and being close to room temperature didn't help. The chili oil on the table had lost its bite many moons ago so it was of no help. Then the dumplings -- the reason for the visit, the reason for the name -- came. Hmm, OK, flabby skins, fairly uninteresting porky filling, and the aforementioned heartless chili oil. Fine, we guessed, but we drove all the way to Westmont for this? Most places in Chinatown had them beat.
What were we missing? We ate a lot of Chinese food in many different cities, and we still do not understand why Katy's, a filthy, unpleasant little dive with food that didn't stand out in any particular way, has garnered so many accolades.
You are definately in the minority on this one. Katy's gets great reviews from folks on Chowhound, and on the Chicagoland LTH forum. I only go for lunch since I work in the area, and have never had an experience like yours. Between Katys, and Lao Szechuwan I never go without a good cinese lunch when I want one.
IMHO, there are several possible explanations, and any or all of them may apply in this or any other case:
- Difference in tastes. Some people like certain things just because they believe they are authentic in some way and/or what they are accustomed to. And some people like different tastes than others, of course.
- Difference in values. Some people extol a place primarily because of its low prices (even going so far as to compliment the food when the real differentiator is the price). Others care more about the food. The same thing may apply regarding food vs service vs decor.
- Inconsistency in the restaurant. Some restaurants can prepare food with the same quality, night after night. Others may have good nights and bad nights. (I happen to believe that if a restaurant is good and worth recommending, it ought to be consistent.)
Coming to different conclusions is how we wind up with sayings like "One man's meat is another man's poison", "De gustabus non est disputandum", and "Chaque a son gout".
Thank you for reporting your experience. No matter what the experience or who it may or may not disagree with, you are entitled to your opinion and we all benefit by sharing those opinions.
I would definitely NOT recommend Hugo's Frog Bar in Naperville - food is disappointing and overpriced. Catch 35 in Naperville is consistently good for seafood and I would recommend Riva off 88 as well. I concur with the earlier poster to avoid Sullivan's. Rizzo's in downtown Naperville has good food at decent prices.
I agree on Rizzo's (Jefferson St, 3 doors west of Washington St). We've eaten there several times and find it excellent. I am especially fond of the cavatappi with chunks of short rib beef. Saturday night, my wife had the veal chop and it was very good. Prices are reasonable (cavatappi $15, veal chop $23) as things go nowadays. Also found Hugo's Frog Bar less than stellar.
A more sedate but elegant place to dine is Allgauer's in the Lisle Hilton. Over more than 20 years of eating there almost once a month, I can say we never had a bad meal and have had many excellent ones. Fish, duck breast among the best dishes, but try any specials on an evening's menu. Chef is creative and dinner includes soup or salad (quite good) in the price, which few places do any longer.
Riva is excellent! Hugo's is ok for lunchtime. The prices are much more reasonable and their clam chowder is pretty tasty. I haven't been to Catch 35 to compare.
No one has mentioned Nicky's at the corner of Hillside and Ogden/Rt34 in Naperville. They have awesome Italian beef and gyros. Just make sure you ask for your beef WET or at least get some aujou(sp?) on the side.
Oh, another awesome Italian restaurant farther west is ZaZa's in downtown Batavia. Definitely worth checking out. Their baked clam appetizers are to die for.
Anyone else getting sick of the general unfriendlyness one encounters, over the counter, at Nicky's? Granted, this is not a white-tablecloth establishment, but they really seem to go out of their way to sneer at people. Almost as if they're completely disgusted you're there. ... Or maybe they just don't like me (lol). But if I wanted surly, I would have stayed in New Jersey. Sheeesh ... I like the gyros and all, but eventually I will stop going ...
The following was posted by CJT (thanks!) in another topic:
I can suggest an excellent, classy. "romantic" restaurant with outstanding food not far from Glen Ellyn, but they don't apear to have entertainment or music. Last night, we celebrated my wife's birthday at Sequel, which is located on the north end of the Yorktown Mall complex (in the row of stores where Carson Pirie Scott home decorating store is and just west of the Target). Go to their website - http://www.sequelb.com - and check their menu. Appetizer we had was: Grilled day boat scallops with edamame, Napa cabbage & seaweed salad and barbeque eel sauce. 3 large grilled scallops and a bed of chpped greens as listed: delightful flavor, excellent quality scal.ops. Another appetizer which sounded marvelous was gnocchi in black truffle sauce.
For entrees: wife had Wildflower honey lacquered duck breast with citrus infused Himalayan red rice, grilled scallions and apricot-brandy coulis. Duck was suitably rare but extremely tender. I had Port braised beef short ribs with seared veal sweetbreads, cauliflower puree, baby carrots and cinnamon-chocolate demi. Meat was flavorful and the sauce was very complimentary to the beef. The puree was almost like a creamy polenta.
We didn't have wine or dessert and the meal was about $75. They have an excellent wine selection as well and know how to decant a good red wine.
Katy's is a treat, and a true food gem. I have been three times now, and love the noodle dishes, and potstickers. The only problem is having to plan when to eat lunch(either early or a late lunch) in order to get a table. I also have to thank Chowhound for exposing me to this place.
I didn't see any mention of Reza's in Oakbrook. It's somewhat obscure in the lobby level of what appears to be a condo building but it's the best Mediterranean food I've ever had. It's a block north of 88 on Butterfield and east of Highland a bit. They have a city location as well.
Also, as for sushi, I concur that Yamado was once excellent and has become bad. Sushi House is expensive but good quality. Swordfish in Batavia is interesting but way over-priced. My favorite sushi place is called House of Tokyo. It's in St. Charles in a strip mall on the east side (near North Ave. and Kirk Rd.) and they have a sushi bar with little boats floating by constantly. They actually put out a good variety from standards (hamachi, toro, etc.) to more fancy rolls (rainbow, spider, etc.) and there are almost always enough people there to keep it fresh.
Less than a mile east of there is my favorite Thai place, too. It's in the SuperTarget parking lot strip mall and it's called Vinothai. The food is excellent, fresh, and lighter than usual. I could eat there every day.
Also, Walter Payton's Roundhouse is not far from 88 and they have good food and award-winning beers brewed on the premises. I recommend their brunch on the weekends - most dishes come with beignet on the side! The service and atmosphere is outstanding, too.
Funny experience right after Payton's Roundhouse opened. We visited and were greatly impressed with the restoration and design. The beer list offered seven or eight, so we ordered the eight-beer sampler.
We got glasses of light colored beer, amber beer, and deep brown beer. We sipped delicately and... every one had the same flavor, which was very little. I teased the waitress about this and I suggested that none had been aged enough to develop their character. I'm sure that was true (I've brewed a few home beers in my time) and we've been back several times and they have got some pretty nice beers nowdays.
Food's good, too.
The brewmaster at the Roundhouse used to run a short-lived brewery in DeKalb (not his fault - it was more suited for Naperville) called the Box Office. He brewed some of the best beers I've had there but also some fairly bland ones. He's constantly stretching out and trying new things (for better or worse) but his staples are consistently excellent. I'm glad you had better experiences more recently.
Totally agree that Uncle Bub's is a B- place and I have given it several tries. I will never go to Sullivan's in Naperville.We had steaks with so much salt that we could scrape it off into piles and when we had the nerve to complain they tried to make us feel like hicks! Ditto to avoid Heaven on 7 and my friends and I all think that the Naperville Joy Yee has gone down in quality. Chef Paul on Ogden just off the Naperville Road exit (exit is closed) has good Bohemian food and great beers on tap. I am going to check out some of the places that were recommended to you so thanks for starting this thread.
I'm puzzled at the several less-enthusiastic opinions on Uncle Bub's BBQ in Westmont. I'm not inexperienced in eating BBQ- I went 300 miles out of my way from Houston to Chicago to hit Arthur Bryant's in KC; I've been to Sarge's in Knoxville, to Uncle Will's in Houston, to EVERY BBQ place in Lockhart, TX, and several of the iconic places in Memphis. I think Uncle Bub's stacks up pretty well in this class of BBQ providers.
Oh well, de gustibus...
Yokohama is a Japanese-themed restaurant in downtown Westmont, about 2 miles south of I-88 on Cass Avenue (It's Midwest Road where it crosses I-88. It's a real nuisance that most of the north-south roads in the western suburbs change their names every couple of miles.) I'm not a sushi expert, but I've thought it is pretty good. It's next to the Burlington tracks, just to the east of Cass.
A couple blocks south of the tracks on Cass is Uncle Bub's, a really good BBQ joint with all the trimmings.
Katy's is in a small strip mall just north of Ogden on Cass on east side of Cass. Other restaurants there include New Madras Palace and a few others. Not a block north of Ogden, just about the 2nd driveway on the right as you go north.
I agree with the recommendation in Naperville on La Sorella di Francesca and there is another place just east of La Sorella on Jefferson St - Rizzo's. It's worth checking out. Had an excellent Cavatappi main dish there as good as anything I ate recently in Rome.
I want to thank everyone for your thoughtful advice. I arrived this evening and thought I should report on my progress. Dinner tonight was at UNcle Bubs in Westmont. I give it a B, maybe a B-. I had a slab of ribs which were nicely smoked and not unduly dried out. Unfortunately they were so salty the nice pink smoke was almost completely lost. The side dishes were very ordinary. I looked for Katy's Dumplings which sounded like it was near UNcle Bubs but I couldn't find it. Something to work on tomorrow.
Don't forget Sequel (http://www.sequelb.com) in Lombard. Can't get much closer to I88 (in the strip mall surrounding Yorktown Mall at the Highland exit). Solid, fine dining. A few service issues, though.
I've read good things about the new RIVA location at 88 and 59, but haven't been there.
We've also enjoyed Antico Posto (another Lettuce place in Oak Brook).
Just trying to keep it close to I88! (But I did really like Vie and Courtright's, even though they're a bit more off the exit ramps.)
--Bill from Downers Grove
Tuscany's in Oakbrook has, in addition to their more formal dining room, a casual sandwich, pasta, and soup spot right next to it where you can get a decent lunch. I haven't been there in a long time but they used to serve pasta with a cream, brandy, and tomato sauce that was really good. This is located on the ground floor of an office bldg at 22nd & 83, right across the street from Oakbrook mall.
uhh.. looking at the list from Yamado (Korean owned sushi restaurant w/ the "chef" not wearing any aprons, yada yada, running mostly on daily specials) to Heaven on Seven, I'd say NO, THERE'S NOTHING TO EAT OFF i88. I tried for 2 months and ended up at places ranging from Famous Daves to Yamado to *gasp* KFC.
There are few hopefuls:
Cho Dang Tofu in Naperville (a sub branch of the exact restaurant in Arl Heights)
Fabulous Noodles in Lisle
4663 Old Tavern Road
Lisle, IL 60532
and finally, the perpetual LTH fave:
Katy's Dumblings (which isn't really OFF of i88, but it's the Western Burbs, it's all greek to me)
665 N. Cass Ave.
Westmont, IL 60559
g'luck and hope your assignment moves soon.
If you want to stay near the I-88 corridor, among the places mentioned I'd recommend TinFish, Greek Islands, Riva, and Joyful's Cafe (an unknown gem!). To this list I would add Fabulous Noodles in Lisle and Lorica in Lombard.
The two sushi places I'd suggest are (in order of preference) Blu Coral and the Wheaton location of Sushi House.
Among the burger places, I have a preference for the above-mentioned Country House, or for DuPage Inn in Downers Grove.
The Hillside location of Emilio's is much better than the Wheaton location and is quite a bit closer to I-88. It's on Roosevelt Road just west of Mannheim/Lagrange Road, and just off the Eisenhower Expy.
Definitely take a pass on Heaven on Seven in Naperville. I used to be one of their biggest fans; haven't had a good meal there in the last three tries. I'll never to to that particular location again. If you don't mind taking a swing slightly north to I-355 and Lake in Addison, there is a great Mexican place called LaHacienda de los Fernandos. It's an upscale version of a Mexican place that's been in Addison for over 25 years. Great mexican food and margaritas. I would second Alfie's for burgers and also Tin Fish for seafood.
Yamado sushi quality not what it used to be. Haven't tried Momotaro on Butterfield Rd in Lombard for a while, but it used to have good sushi. Yerbabuena in Lisle has good food, but service leaves a lot to be desired.
Others worth looking at: Carlucci in Downers Grove just west of I-355; Allgauer's Grill in the Lisle Hilton hotel (excellent and creative food in a fine dining setting); Vic's Italian Steakhouse on 22nd St in Oakbrook Terrace; Joy Yee Noodles on Ogden Ave in Naperville.
From today's Dish (food column of Chicago magazine):
Les Deux Autres (462 Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn; 630-469-4002) has been sold to Michel Saragueta, chef of Café le Coq (734 Lake St., Oak Park; 708-848-2233). Saragueta takes over on February 1st, and the place will become Bistro Monet. “He will make it more bistro,” says Louisa Lima, the former owner. “I knew that Michel has wanted his own place for a long time. I wanted someone that would be as passionate about it as I was, rather than some big corporation coming in and taking it over.” What prompted the move? “My husband got a job in New York back in June, and I tried to stick it out, but we are at the point where I have to move,” Lima says. “Right now I don’t have any plans.”
I'm not a huge fan of chains, not saying that they're not adequate, so I'll add a few to the list:
Chinn's 34th Street Eatery on Ogden Avenue in Lisle - superb seafood. The wahoo just melts in your mouth. You can smell the aroma of garlic from the parking lot!!
Country House on College Avenue in Lisle - great burgers
Yerbabuena Mexican on Main Street Lisle - creative Mexican food
Alfie's Inn on Roosevelt Road in Glen Ellyn - best burgers in the western suburbs
Matsuri Sushi on 3rd Street in Geneva - ate there last week. One of the best in the burbs. Although I wouldn't say it's the best in the Chicago area.
Joyful's Cafe on Maple in Downers Grove - excellent homemade & fresh sandwiches, salads, bakery. They make everything including their breads on site!!
With the exception of the pizza and steak places, most of the restaurants listed above are not big chain operations. Most are places where the restauranteur opened one location, it was successful, and decided to open one or two additional locations. Just like Chinn's, which you mentioned, was opened by the nephew of the original Bob Chinn's in Wheeling.
Yes, Emilio's is excellent. His was one of the earliest tapas places in the Chicago area. Unlike some of the other places mentioned above, it started in the western suburbs (the Hillside location) and then opened an additional location in Chicago, rather than the reverse.
I'm not a big fan of sushi, so unlike the choices above, I can't give you any recommendations based on personal experience. But a quick check of Metromix shows that these places might be suitable (or sushible); perhaps sushi fans in the area can comment:
Blu Coral (Woodridge) - no website; 630-719-8808
Sushi House (Westmont, Wheaton, Naperville) - www.mysushihouse.com
Sushi Nest (Elmhurst) - no website; 630-833-5088
Swordfish Contemporary Sushi (Batavia) - www.swordfishsushi.com (takes forever to load); 630-406-6463
Wild Tuna (Naperville) - www.wildtunasushi.com
Yamado (Naperville) - no website; 630-983-3567
What kind of food are you looking for?
Morton's (Westchester) - www.mortons.com
The Capital Grille (Lombard) - www.thecapitalgrille.com
Sullivan's (Naperville) - www.sullivansteakhouse.com
Wildfire (Oak Brook) - www.wildfirerestaurant.com
Heaven on Seven (Naperville) - www.heavenonseven.com
CHURRASCARIA (BRAZILIAN MEAT, MEAT, AND EVEN MORE MEAT):
Sal & Carvao (Downers Grove) - www.salecarvao.com
Emilio's (Hillside, Wheaton) - www.emiliostapas.com
Greek Islands (Lombard) - www.greekislands.net/contact/contact.html
CHICAGO-STYLE DEEP DISH PIZZA:
Giordano's (stuffed, double-crust pizza, multiple locations) - www.giordanos.com
Lou Malnati's (single-crust pan pizza, multiple locations) - www.loumalnatis.com
Gino's East (single-crust pan pizza, multiple locations) - www.ginoseast.com