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Mar 3, 2009 08:18 AM

Help! I'm tired of the chain restaurants in the Woodridge area!

Do you have any recommendations for good food that is fairly priced in the Woodridge-Downer's Grove-Bolingbrook area? I moved up to IL from NM a year ago and still (sadly) have not been able to explore the area food wise. Unfortunately the area is mainly chain restaurants and I'm interested in finding new and interesting restaurants that offer something other than the "usual" fare found at franchise restaurants. Suggestions for places to go on the weeknights when I don't feel like cooking...that doesn't take forever and are kid-friendly would be much appreciated. My 6 year old is not a picky eater, in fact he quite enjoys ethnic food. But I would like to go to restaurants where I would be comfortable just dining with myself and son. Also, I am looking for nice places to go on the weekends that won't break the budget but will offer a nice "adult" dinner. Thanks in advance for all your help!

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  1. Some places that come to mind are: Clara's Pasta on west side of Route 53 just north of 63rd St (Italian), Suparossa also on west side of 53 just north of the 7 Bridges mall, Fabulous Noodles just off Ogden west of Yackley Road. All are slightly north of your named towns, but not far from them. Also in DG is Lao Szechuan on Ogden about 1/2 mile west of Main Street. For the "adult dinner" I strongly recommend Allgauer's in the Lisle Hilton on Warrenville Road, just east of Naperville-Wheaton Road (their "courses menu" offers 5 courses of great food for only $28 per person; their Restaurant Week specials were only $20.09 per person).
    If you would like to travel over to Naperville, I can suggest a lot of places there for you to try.

    2 Replies
    1. re: CJT

      Thank you so much for the fantastic replies. I have been reading about Allgauer's and am really interested in going there...and for that price you can't beat it. But I am always open to taking a short jaunt to Naperville.

      1. re: CJT

        I second the Clara's recommendation. This could be either the 'adult' only or 'with child' dinner. If you get on their email list, they'll send you a weekly newsletter with a password for a little something and whatever the weekly specials are. Also, on Wednesdays, bottles of wine are 1/2 off & on Thursdays glasses of wine are 1/2 off. The portobella mushroom appetizer with gorgonzola is a meal in itself. It just melts in your mouth. We've also enjoyed the grilled calamari, although they have come out a bit overcooked a couple of times. The spinach lasagna is delicious as is the gnocchi (which is only served on Wednesday). We actually haven't had anything that we haven't enjoyed there!

      2. For an "adult dinner", some of the best "casual fine dining" restaurants in the Chicago suburbs aren't too far away: Tallgrass in Lockport, Vie in Western Springs, and Courtright's in Willow Springs. Normally they are somewhat on the expensive side, but check their websites and elsewhere for special deals, which are proliferating in this bad economy. For example, Vie was a participant in last week's Chicago Chef Week promotion, and was offering a 3-course dinner for $32.

        Another place I like in that area (in Downers Grove), suitable for an "adult dinner", is Parker's Ocean Grill, which specializes in seafood.

        Website links:

        2 Replies
        1. re: nsxtasy

          I would second the recommendation on Parker's Ocean Grill, but for the adult dinner. Just on the other side of I-88 from Parker's on the northwest corner of Highland and Butterfield Rd is Sweet Tomatoes, a place you should try with your son, as he will like it. I know it is a chain, but a different one: you make your own salads (or select pre-mixed ones) from a 45-foot salad bar, then after paying, you can try their 6 different soups and chili. They also offer various types of foccacia, muffins, baked potatoes, mac & cheese, steamed veggies, and lots of dessert (fruit, cake, soft-serve ice cream). This is AYCE and I highly recommend their soups; they taste like home-made but have wonderful flavors and you can try all of them. This meal is less than $9 at lunch, about $10 at dinner, and your 6-year old will get either a kids' discount or eat free when you dine. All my grown children and their kids love the place and I'll bet your boy will also.

          1. re: CJT

            Sweet Tomatoes is actually one of my go-to places for lunch up in Schaumburg. You really can't beat the price and the enormous selection of produce and fixings in the salad bar.

        2. Some nice replies below. Also consider Westmont. Vincitori is a nice Italian place:

          Amber Cafe had good food the couple of times we went there, but the service was spotty (that was a long time ago, could be better now):

          Their sister restaurant is Topaz Cafe in Burr Ridge (haven't been there yet):

          I haven't been to Grape in Westmont, either, but it certainly looks "grown up"


          1. Hi all. I thought I would give an update to my eating adventures around the Woodridge area. I am currently waiting until I have a kid-free weekend to try the above suggestions out. Pulling for Allgauer’s this weekend…hopefully I can get my boyfriend to agree to go. So please keep your fingers crossed. But here are the new places I have visited…this is the first time I’ve reviewed so please let me know if I leave something out or am too detailed about unnecessary information.

            Last week on Wednesday I had a craving for fried chicken and wanted something other than KFC. I had tried Harold’s Chicken Shack in Bolingbrook the week before for the first time (unbelievably good and reasonably priced) and I was interested in trying another new location. Upon recommendation from a co-worker I made my way to White Fence Farm in Romeoville. The fried chicken was amazing and I enjoyed that they served their dinners family style with an assortment of relishes and side dishes. However, I found the coleslaw to be too vinegary and the kidney bean salad bland. But the corn fritters were a welcome sweet alternative to the savory dishes. My son devoured his chicken saying the chicken was “better than McDonalds”, which is a mighty statement coming from a 6 year old. The only qualms I had with dinner was the fact that my son and I were the only ones seated in the Anchor Room. It was a bit eerie eating in a room alone in an old house decked out to the max with antiques. The other rooms were booming and our server had gone over to another room to help leaving us to find her for the check. I probably won’t go back to eat there due to my week night schedule (not because I didn’t enjoy it) but will most likely go to their carry out location in Downer’s Grove to get my fried chicken fix.


            Friday night I decided to take a break and treat my son and myself to a nice dinner. My son loves Japanese Teppanyaki restaurnats and I am always on the look out for new places that are both entertaining and reasonably priced. I’ve driven by Aodake Sushi and Steakhouse many times in the Darien Town Plaza and finally decided to try it out. We went around 6 PM and were immediately shown to two empty chairs at the grill. The service was amazing. Not only was our server fast and polite but she was also very helpful and welcoming. Not once during the meal was my water glass more than half empty and the dirty dishes were cleared away very diligently. The Teppanyaki chef was a true delight. Not only was he very entertaining (he cracked my son and the other two children at the table up on several occasions) but the food was outstanding. Even though I tend to find the routine of the meal very common no matter where you go, but our chef was hilarious. He even had me laughing and wondering what cool thing he would do next. Although soup was standard beef stock with a few fried onions thrown in and the salad was the routine iceberg lettuce with ginger dressing, the vegetables were fork tender and not raw like you would find at many other Teppanyaki restaurants. And unlike other restaurants there was more of a variety. There was yellow and green zucchini and different types of mushrooms which made for a nice surprise. My scallops weren’t over done nor were my shrimp which I ordered with the egg yolk topping which was rich and oh so luxurious after a hard week of work and cafeteria salads. As expected, the check for one adult dinner and one children’s dinner was a tad more than I wanted to spend ($33 not including drinks) but it was well worth it. And as an unexpected surprise they presented me with two coupons, 1 for $25 off any $75 bill and 1 for a free crunchy sushi roll. I will definitely be coming back here to try the sushi but on a special occasion basis.


            Saturday my boyfriend, son and I ended up going to Nonnie’s Pizza Restaurant and Bar in Woodridge at 5 PM out of necessity since we had gone bowling next door and suddenly found ourselves starving and not wanting to eat fast food and not wanting to drive far. When we entered I felt as if we had made a good decision since the décor had the Tuscan warmth feel that I find inviting in an Italian restaurant. I apologize in advance for my ensuing negativity but the décor is the only thing I liked about the whole experience. Usually I’m not extremely nit-picky when it comes to service and tend to be more forgiving of bad service, since I once was a server, but when about to be led to our table the hostess stopped midway and went to take a take out order is inexcusable. We were left in the middle of the restaurant not knowing where to go for about 5 mins with other wait staff just walking past us not offering any help. So that put a sour taste in my mouth suffice to say. When we finally made it to the table we found ourselves next to the service station where we were able to listen to the servers gossip and ridicule or complain about their tables including ours throughout the meal, which almost put me over the edge. Our server showed up within a minute or two and asked if we were ready to order. We hadn’t even opened our menus yet let alone decided what we wanted to order to drink! Since the server was in a rush, I ended up ordering the first thing I saw, the house Chianti. A few minutes later, which was pretty fast, our drinks arrived and once again our server asked if we were ready to order. Once again we had to ask for a few more minutes, which turned out to be a measly 3 additional minutes. At this point I had given up and just went with the first thing I saw, the Cavatelli with Tomato-Cream sauce and a side salad with ranch dressing. The salad was very disappointing. For the price I would expect more than iceberg lettuce, a few slices of radish, and Hidden Valley dressing (which is a personal dislike). The cavatelli was drowning in the sauce which wouldn’t have been so bad since I am a huge sauce person, but the sauce was bland and I ended up having to spice it up with the spices that were on the table. My boyfriend ordered the Nonnie burger which he said “was no Portillo’s burger but just ok” and the onion rings, which looked very appetizing, were ice cold. The only bright side to the meal was my son’s pepperoni pizza which was tasty and a very generous portion for a kid’s menu selection. I don’t know if it was because we arrived at the beginning of the night shift that we received such horrible service but that doesn’t excuse the overpriced mediocre food and the actions of the rest of the wait staff. I would not recommend this restaurant to any one.


            2 Replies
            1. re: abduction51

              We visit the Aodake in Romeoville and always have a great meal. I wouldn't do the Hibachi all the time, but the it is good once in awhile. I also pick up Sushi on the way home on Fridays for a nice treat. Their sushi is very good. And yes, they are always giving us coupons. I always end up bringing enough food home for another meal. So it might cost a bit more, but it is yummy.

              However, the only time I went to White Fence Farm, I did not enjoy it. I'm not a big fried chicken person, but I found it rather "meh".

              1. re: libgirl2

                Many thumbs up for Aodake on 75th Street in Westmont/Darien (near Walmart) for sushi. Variety is great. Hibachi is nothing special though.

            2. Lots of interesting restaurants in downtown Westmont north of the RR tracks and south of Ogden ave. All are worth at least one visit. Many have discounts on With the 50-80% off coupons, you have no excuse not to experiment with something new.