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Jan 2, 2009 08:41 AM

Best Restaurants on


Recently we received a gift cert to Instead of just buying certs to our usual restaurants we thought maybe we could get a certificate for a special or extra nice restaurant that we would not normally go to. What are the best restaurants on in the Chicago area? We live in the west suburbs but are open to travel to a great spot. I am a vegetarian so it would need at least one great veggie dish on the menu. We are open to any and all cuisines.


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  1. Here's my experience with It works and it's an excellent way to save money. However, there are several caveats. One is that some of the certificates are highly restricted, while others are not. (The terms are shown next to the restaurant before you buy the certificate.) Another is that certain certificates are ALWAYS "out of stock" (even at the start of the month, when they claim another batch will be available), so they may as well not even be listed. Another is that sometimes you can get similar or better deals without using the certificates.

    I'll give you an example of the latter. Oceanique ( ) is an outstanding (albeit expensive) seafood-oriented restaurant in Evanston. They offer several promotions, but understandably, they don't allow you to combine them with each other. Their promotions include a 3-course menu for $45 during the week (not Saturdays), a $25 certificate on for $10 (not good Saturdays), and a $25 off coupon on their website (good any day). The $45 deal is probably the best one they offer, but if you're not going to take advantage of the 3-course special, you're better off using the (free) $25 coupon on their own website than the certificate (especially if you have to pay money for the latter). I'm not saying that there are no good deals with - there are! You just need to be careful and shop around.

    I'm not as familiar with restaurants in the west suburbs as I am in the city and the north suburbs, and the ones I'm familiar with are "destination restaurants" which tend not to be listed in I did a search on for restaurants within 10 miles of Oak Brook, and the only place that resulted that I've been to is Emilio's Tapas in Hillside ( ). Emilio's is an excellent place and offers numerous vegetarian items within the context of its tapas (small plates) format. The certificate is quite restrictive - not valid on Saturdays, and only valid for groups of 4 or more. But if that works for you, it's one possibility (and a good one). I see they also list Adobo Grill in Lombard ( ); I haven't been to that location, but I've been to their locations in the city, and they are very good also, for creative Mexican food. The certificate is not particularly restrictive. It's quite possible that some (perhaps many) additional restaurants listed in the west suburbs are very good; I'm just not familiar with them. Hopefully others here can give you additional recommendations there.

    Restaurants in the city and northern suburbs that I recommend as worth traveling to from the west suburbs, with certificates available (see for details and restrictions), include the following:

    Va Pensiero (Evanston, Italian) -
    Sola (Chicago/North Center, contemporary American) -
    May Street Market (Chicago/West Town, contemporary American) -
    The Stained Glass (Evanston, comtemporary American/wine bar) -
    Quince (Evanston, contemporary American) -
    Spoon Thai (Chicago/Lincoln Square, Thai) -

    1. I've used a few times and have had great experiences with very few restrictions. It is likely that higher end restaurants are more strict but the places I have tried have allowed us to include both our meal and drinks--no questions asked.

      On our first try we went to La Gondola (Chicago) which was a great spot. Very cozy and ideal for a date night. I had a homemade pumpkin ravioli in a sage/butter sauce. As I said, we ordered a bottle of wine fully expecting that it wasn't included but to our surprise it was! The owners were friendly and the chef visited several tables. From what I understand they have outstanding pizza as well.

      Our next attempt was Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro also in Chicago. I love the atmosphere and we've been back several times! Huge fireplace in the main bar area as well as a long/narrow dining room. Fantastic service as well. We had the ribs as an appetizer and I had an insanely tender pork shank served over lentils. I know you said you're vegetarian, but I had to mention how fantastic our meals have been on different occasions. They have a Guinness macaroni that is great too (weird combo, but great).
      Not sure about the wine list as this is more of a beer drinkers haven. Pretty extensive list.

      Ultimately my experiences with have given me a reason to add in appetizers or desserts that you may not try otherwise. Not necessarily an inexpensive dinner. Very fun, though.

      1. I just returned to SoCal from a 10 day trip to Chicago and the western 'burbs and used 3 certificates on our trip...Del Rhea's Chicken Basket, Vito & Nick's at Lemont Lanes, and Allgauer's Sunday Brunch in Lisle. Allgauer's is regarded to have one of the better brunches in the Chicago area and it's a place you may want to give a try.

        3 Replies
        1. re: RSMBob

          I just moved to SoCal from Chicago and have never been to Allgauer's. Seeing your reviews, I am going to have to try it out the next time I go home to visit.

          1. re: LadyintheKitchen

            Note that there are two Allgauer's locations (and they are very similar to each other, and I believe both have offers on

            1. In the western suburbs (Naperville/Lisle area) -

            2. In the northern suburbs (Northbrook/Wheeling area) -

            1. re: nsxtasy

              My post was based on the Allgauer's located in the Lisle Hilton Hotel only. I highly recommend their courses menu offered each night : 5 different courses (appetizer which is often quite substantial, salad, fish course, meat course, dessert) for $28.00 p/p, $42 p/p with 5 wine pairings.

        2. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. The menus really look great. We'll check out the options on and figure out what will work for us.

          Thanks again!

          3 Replies
          1. re: etoiles

            When they had their big sale I looked around and all I could find that I wanted to buy was one for Allgauer's Sunday Brunch. It's pretty close to our house and we have wanted to try them out. What I really wanted was one for Hugo's Frog Bar in Naperville. We love that place but that is one of those that is always "sold out".

            1. re: Chicago Wine Geek

              Why don't your try Allgauer's for dinner? We have been dining there for over 20 years and find it very good. Nick Landewehr is a good chef and prepares excellent meals. His various "courses menus", recently introduced, have been very good. Don't expect Alinea or Charlie Trotter, but the food is good, well-prepared, and worth trying. In addition, the Thursday Food section of Chicago Tribune often has $20 coupons for this Allgauer's location, so you can try the place without financial risk. I am sure you will be pleased.

              1. re: CJT

                Just dined at Allgauer's last night and had another excellent courses menu dining experience. 5 courses, of which the Sea Bass with Tuscan beans and shrimp and the "flatiron steak" in bordelaise sauce were both outstanding.

                To clarify my earlier post, the Tribune $20 coupons for Allgauer's do no apply to the courses menu, but it runs only $28 per person (or $42 with 5 wine pairings), so it is an excellent offering.

          2. My picks are Erwin and Landmark. If the Dinotto certificates were ever in stock, that would be a good pick too! :) Keep a look out for the 80% off sales that they frequently have - $25 coupon for $2 is a great deal.