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Sep 14, 2007 10:12 AM

Dinner suggestions before Ravinia?

We will be heading to Ravinia (for the first time!) this weekend and would like some recs... Are there any favorite pre-show places people like?!

Could be in the city or up north closer to the venue (but the latter is preferred, I think). I mostly just want to hear suggestions about places north of the city that I may not know about since I've only lived here for a year! Any suggestions appreciated... Somewhere we could go dressed casually - and probably looking for an early (5:00 - 6:00 ish) dinner time.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. If you've never been to the nation's busiest restaurant (I think that's its claim to fame, anyway - either that, or they sell the most steaks.) The food is competently done. Good, not outstanding, and the fish will probably fresh. I know a ton of ppl that love, and a ton of ppl who say it's good, nothing great. I'm in the latter camp. You should go just to say you've been:
    Bob Chinn's Crab House, 393 S Milwaukee Ave, Wheeling, IL
    Cozier, Italian:
    Francesco's Hole in the Wall
    254 Skokie Blvd.
    Northbrook 60062-1612

    1. It all depends on what kind of food you're looking for. In and around Highland Park, there are lots of kinds of restaurants - everything from Mexican (e.g. La Casa de Isaac), to French bistro (Miramar, Cafe Central) to contemporary American/French (Michael, simply wonderful) to steakhouses (Ruth's Chris) to Indian (Curry Hut), and casual attire is acceptable at any of them (other than Carlos). If you are specifically looking for seafood, Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview is just as close as Bob Chinn's, and is far better, IMHO. Also, don't overlook the restaurants at Ravinia itself, as they have expanded their dining options this year.


      4 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Okay, we've discussed and we'd like to go for Italian tomorrow night... Your list is fantastic, but any other suggestions specifically for Italian?

        One last (dumb) question: are the northern Chicago suburbs all relatively easy to get to and around? We don't have to go somewhere within five minutes of the park, obviously, but somewhere in the vicinity, please! Thanks so much, again.

        1. re: DKS1

          The previously-mentioned Francesco's Hole in the Wall is good; it's more of a "cheap eats" kind of Italian, if you know what I mean. It's cash only (probably not a big deal) and they don't take reservations (I don't know if this is a problem considering your relatively early dining hour; you might call them and ask what waits are likely to be at that time). There are lots and lots of Italian places in Highwood, which is just north of Highland Park, but I'm not that familiar with most of them. Ravinia is in the south end of HP, so driving to Ravinia from places in Highwood, you're talking maybe ten minutes or so. If you're looking for something upscale/nice, Gabriel's in Highwood is always wonderful; it's not strictly Italian, it's more like Italian-French. Check out their website at and you'll see what I mean. Rosebud has a location in Highland Park. (But I haven't been to this location; I see below that SuzMiCo doesn't recommend that location, and I've grown to have tremendous respect for her opinions.) And the Mia Francesca restaurant group has a location in Northbrook, Francesca's North.

          As for getting around the area, it depends. Since you're posting now, I assume you're asking about tomorrow rather than today; weekday commuter traffic (which can be bad, primarily on the Edens) isn't an issue on Saturday night. On a Saturday, yes, it's generally pretty easy to get around; you just drive wherever you want, and you shouldn't encounter any significant delays. Traffic will back up in the immediate vicinity of Ravinia, waiting to get into the parking lots, etc., but that's inevitable no matter where you go to eat, and the restaurants are far enough away that that's not a factor except for getting into the park after dinner.

          1. re: DKS1

            Bella Via - has good Italian food in downtown Highland Park.

            There is also HP location of Rosebud, but I don't recommend it. I've been there twice. Both times the service was horrible. Once we were left for 20 without menus for 20 minutes until I got up and got them for us. The second time we went, my sister's entree, which was supposed to be hot, arrived cold.

            1. re: SuzMiCo

              Such excellent recs - thank you both!! We're heading out right now (Sat. afternoon), and I think we're going to aim for either Cafe Central, Bella Via or Gabriel's... if there's time, we'll explore both areas before making a decision! Thanks again for your wonderful suggestions. I'll let you know what we decided!

        2. If you are interested in sushi, Happi Sushi is very close to Ravinia and is very good. Although, we usually pick up the food and then eat at Ravinia so I'm not familiar with their dinning room.

          1 Reply
          1. re: SirEatsALot

            Thanks for all of the recs! We haven't gotten so far as to discuss what kind of food we want - I've just been working on figuring out how to get there and where to park!! All of these suggestions sound promising. And, this doesn't have to be the best meal we've ever eaten... just something promisingly good and something we wouldn't otherwise "travel" for. Keep 'em coming!