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Dec 6, 2007 10:14 AM

"Destination" restaurants - South Suburbs, NW IN

It's the holidays, and I'll once again be coming home to the south 'burbs (Thornton). Mom likes it when I come home, because we sometimes go places that she would not go in my absence. For example, she enjoys the Bennett Curtis House in the town of Grant Park (south of Beecher), White Fence Farm in Lemont, and the Strongbow Inn in Valpo, and she was really fond of Phil Smidt's before they closed.

As you might guess from those examples, I'm not looking for cutting edge molecular gastronomy - she's got more of a "stick to the basics, done well" kind of a palate. Even so, I think she'd enjoy someplace like Tallgrass in Lockport, based on the reports I've heard of it (not been, myself). The key is that there be enough "familiar" things on the menu so that she's not left totally adrift. We want to avoid the "Honey, I don't know what any of these dishes on the menu are!" moments, which cause her anxiety.

Any suggestions for other "nice drive, followed by nice meal" type places I might take her to? I'd like to stick to the south suburbs and NW Indiana - she gets a bit overwhelmed by the city (though she was willing to head that way for Smidt's!). And of course, good quality coupled with good value is always a Chowhound plus!

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Well...nearby there's always Cafe Elise, Cafe Borgia, and Giovanni's in Munster, and Gino's Steak House and Roditzio in Dyer.

    But I might consider one of the places on/near the Valparaiso town square like Don Quixote, Pikk's, and Bistro 157. It's a nice drive out to Valpo, the downtown is among the nicest in the Chicago area, and the restaurants are top-notch.

    1. Tough one. Chef Klaus in Frankfort could be a fun evening when they have the German oompah band. make sure you have table in the room w/the band. Do not let them rush you. There really are no "destination" places out south anymore. Mr. Benny's or Jack Gibbons for "old fashioned" steak experience. That's about it.

      2 Replies
      1. Tallgrass, definitely.

        1. re: mikemill

          Public Landing in Lockport would have fit the bill when the Tallgrass guys owned it, but ownership and thus vibe and food quality have changed. The Gaylord Building is still extremely handsome, and the view from a window table into the snowy historic site fulfilling, but the bar has now been plopped into the middle of the dining room, the menu is showing its age, and profit rules. Guess my regret over the loss of a favorite restaurant is pretty strong, eh?

          I haven't been to Cooper's Hawk in Orland Park, but it appears to be a restaurant with ambition. You might check the website and search this board and lthforum.

          A supper club outside of Valpo named Hesson (sp.?) House had my interest when my daughter was in school over there, but I never got there.

          Good luck.