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Jan 30, 2010 05:38 PM

Gift certificate for new parents?

My friends who live in Oak Park just had a baby and I'd like to get them a gift certificate to a restaurant with good, comfort take-out food. Any recommendations?

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  1. Rather than decide on a single restaurant where they must go (and any leftover balance might go unused), I recommend giving them a gift certificate good at a bunch of local restaurants. Then they have a choice among at least several different restaurants with several kinds of food at various price points. That also gives them the ability to choose a place they want to go, and if there is any leftover balance, they can go somewhere else to use it up. Here are some possibilities:

    1. Lettuce Entertain You ( ) is a group of several dozen restaurants, mostly in the Chicago area. Its offerings include high-end creative places (Tru, Everest, and L2O), as well as mid-priced and other places. The gift certificates, which you can buy on their website, are good at any of their restaurants. They include several restaurants in Oak Brook as well as many in the city, so they can go either way from Oak Park, which is about halfway in between.

    2. Levy ( ) is another group of restaurants in Chicago. They only have a few restaurants in the Chicago area, but they are excellent: Spiaggia, an extremely high-end Italian restaurant; Cafe Spiaggia, its mid-priced Italian sibling next door; Bistro 110, a French bistro; Fulton's on the River, a seafood restaurant; and Jake Melnick's Corner Tap.

    3. KDK Restaurants ( ) has four restaurants in the city: Red Light (Asian fusion), Gioco (Italian), Opera (Chinese), and Marche (French bistro).

    4. American Express ( ) offers gift cards that are good at any restaurant that accepts their credit card. Which gives them a huge array of options, letting them decide what place most appeals to them.

    1. For take-out food, it is not clear to me that any Oak Park restaurants with good comfort food have a gift certificate program, based upon their websites. You may want to call the following restaurants to see if they will do a gift certificate:

      The Marion St. Cheese Market:
      Cucina Paradiso:
      The Pasta Shoppe:
      Maya del Sol:

      Otherwise, Nsxtasy's suggestion of an American Express Gift Card may be the best solution. The other restaurant groups that he recommends, although all solid, do not have any locations that are less than 20-30 minutes from Oak Park. I.e., they are relatively convenient as destinations for an eat-in meal, but not for takeaway.

      1. Oak Park might do a general "Oak Park" gift certificate. Check with the Chamber of Commerce. Forest Park has done this with a Madison Street gift certificate good at many shops and restaurants.