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May 9, 2010 08:13 PM

good restaurants nearish to Skokie?

I'm going to be visiting Chicago this coming weekend, arriving in time for dinner on Thursday and leaving after an early Sunday dinner. I'll be staying in Skokie, though I'll have a rental car.

I'd love recommendations for quality places in that general area. I'm also fine with going into Chicago itself, though my guess is that parking may be difficult and/or expensive, so if there are good places in the outlying areas, that's great. I'd like to go to at least one higher end restaurant (not $150/person, but $75 or so would be ok if it's good--I'd prefer not to have to wear a jacket, though), and I'm always into great little finds, ethnic food, etc.--just nothing that's a chain. I also have time for a great breakfast place on Friday potentially.

Any recommendations? Thanks much!


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  1. I don't think high priced food always equals good food, and I don't usually get into those sort of discussions. Other contributors here do make those types of recommendations and you'll have some to consider when they see your questions.

    For excellent and stand-out, head and shoulder above other places in the area ... I'll recommend Burt's Place for what maybe the best deep dish pizza in the metropolitan area; it's in Morton Grove (adjacent to Skokie). For breakfast, I recommend Patty's Diner on Main Street, in Skokie ... at the SE corner of Kimball and Main (just west of McCormick Blve. Patty's is a great breakfast/lunch spot (which closes about 2 p.m. daily, closed Monday if I'm recalling correctly).

    Patty's Diner
    3358 Main St, Skokie, IL

    Burt's Place
    8541 N Ferris Ave, Morton Grove, IL

    1. I guess I missed you, since this is Monday morning. Next time, try the Charcoal Oven (odd name; doesn't seem to have anything to do with the place itself). It's been there 60 years for good reason, and in the same family. The fish is excellent, and we've sometimes found it easiest to let the owner "do" the rest of the meal's choices. The details (hot buttered bread, for instance) are considered important. Feel treated, eat very well, and stay local.
      BTW, looks like a road house from the outside - don't be dissuaded.

      1 Reply
      1. re: skokieam

        By this coming, I meant May 13-16, so all suggestions are good and useful! Thanks.


      2. There are some very high quality restaurants within ten minutes or so of Skokie, as good as the best finer dining restaurants in the city. There's no need to go into Chicago, although that option is open as well, of course.

        Several of the very best restaurants in the area are in Evanston, right next door just east of Skokie. Chef's Station ( ) serves outstanding contemporary American cuisine, some of the best you'll find anywhere, with a whimsical element to the decor. Oceanique ( ) also serves outstanding contemporary American cuisine, with an emphasis on seafood. The Stained Glass ( ) does too, with an emphasis on wine (it's also a wine bar, and it's named for wine, not for the architectural element). Bistro Bordeaux ( ) is a recently-opened French bistro in downtown Evanston and it's excellent as well. One other finer dining restaurant is in Winnetka, about ten minutes from Skokie, and it is equally outstanding - Michael ( ). Those are the best "finer dining" restaurants within ten minutes of Skokie. They're all fairly casual, too; you won't find many (if any) folks wearing jackets at any of them, and you could even get away with nice jeans at all of them.

        For your great breakfast place, go to Walker Brothers Original Pancake House. Depending on where you are in Skokie, there are two locations nearby. One is just to the northeast in Wilmette, just over the town line from Evanston; the other is just to the northwest in Glenview. This is NOT your typical pancake house!!! Everything there is wonderful, and you can't miss their heavenly cinnamony apple pancake. The lines may be long on weekends, but they move pretty quickly; going there on Friday is a great idea. For another breakfast-ish choice, Jerry's is a restaurant in nearby Winnetka, open for lunch (as well as dinner) Monday through Saturday. Their French toast was deemed the best in the Chicago area by the Chicago Tribune, and it is indeed outstanding.

        For more choices beyond finer dining and breakfast, I also recommend the following restaurants in Evanston, which include some of those great little finds and ethnic foods:

        Campagnola (Italian) -
        Lou Malnati's (deep-dish pizza in the pan) -
        Giordano's (deep-dish stuffed pizza) -
        Thai Sookdee (Thai) -
        Lupita's (Mexican) -
        Lulu's Dim Sum (pan-Asian) -
        Mt. Everest Restaurant (Indian) -
        Dixie Kitchen (Cajun) -
        Pete Miller's (steakhouse) -
        Davis Street Fishmarket (seafood) -
        Prairie Moon (American) -
        Merle's (Barbecue) -
        Lucky Platter (Eclectic) -
        Blind Faith (vegetarian) -
        Cross Rhodes (Greek/gyros) -
        Al's Deli (carry-out sandwiches and great chocolate chip cookies) -
        Rollin' To Go (sandwiches and great spicy homemade potato chips) -
        Bat 17 (deli sandwiches, salads, etc) -

        Lou Malnati's also has a location in Lincolnwood which may be closer to you than the one in Evanston, depending on where you are in Skokie. Same thing for Giordano's and its location in Morton Grove. These are the best examples of deep-dish pizza in the Skokie area. (I do not care for the pizza at Burt's Place with its characteristic burnt crust.) If you decide to go for deep-dish pizza, wherever you go, you can phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes for your pizza to bake.

        Here are some good places to go in Skokie itself:

        Dengeo's (gyros, burgers) -
        Thai Pavilion -
        Ruby of Siam (Thai) -
        Kaufman's (Jewish deli, carry-out only) -

        ...and in nearby Lincolnwood:

        Wholly Frijoles (Mexican, beware waits for seating) -
        L. Woods (American) -

        Skokie also has several so-so chain seafood restaurants (Bonefish Grill, McCormick and Schmick) but if you want the best seafood in the area (other than the finer dining at Oceanique), go to Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview.

        Patty's Diner, mentioned above, has good burgers; it's only open for breakfast and lunch, so don't go there for dinner. :) As for Charcoal Oven, it's okay, nothing great, notable more for its longevity rather than for great food.

        Many of these restaurants can get busy, especially on Saturday nights, so advance reservations are a good idea. Many of the nicer places accept reservations for free on the website.

        In Evanston, make sure to observe the strictly-enforced parking meter regulations, which are in effect till 9 p.m. (free on Sundays). When visiting restaurants in downtown Evanston, there are several large city-owned parking garages which are free for the first hour, $2 for the second hour; for more information see

        I know these are a lot of recommendations to think about. If you're not sure, check out the menus on the restaurants' websites, and you'll get a better idea of what each one has to offer. Feel free to ask more questions, and enjoy your visit!

        5 Replies
        1. re: nsxtasy

          Thanks so much for all of the suggestions! Will start looking into them.

          1. re: jonplaywright

            I missed one, a relatively new place in Skokie that's very good:

            Yolo (Mexican) -

          2. re: nsxtasy

            Went with a friend for the tasting menu at Chef's Station, and it was very, very good. Lovely sauces, great flavors. Great rec. Hit up Thai Pavilion for their lunch buffet today--solid, though I wouldn't say it was quite as flavorful as some of our LA Thai restaurants.

            On Sunday, I'm going to be on my way back to the airport, but should have time for a decent dinner, so long as I get back to O'Hare by 7:30. Is there anything on the way from Skokie that's worthy of recommendation? Thanks much.


            Thai Pavilion
            4654 Church St, Skokie, IL 60076

            Chef's Station
            915 Davis Street, Evanston, IL 60201

            1. re: jonplaywright

              >> Is there anything on the way from Skokie that's worthy of recommendation?

              One thing to be aware of is that there's road construction all over right now. Dempster Street through Morton Grove, which would be the normal route from a lot of Skokie to O'Hare, is a nightmare; it's down to one lane each way, with big plates in the road. Potter, which is a north-south street over towards the expressway (I-294), is also under construction. Depending on where you are in Skokie, you might want to consider Golf to Harlem to Dempster to I-294 as an alternative route.

              There's a Portillo's on Dempster between Harlem and I-294 just west of Greenwood. It's a good place for Chicago hot dogs, burgers, and Italian beef sandwiches. Not at all fancy. You order on a line, pick up your stuff, and go find a table.

              Other than that, though, there really isn't much along the way that I would recommend. The best options are to eat at any of the above-mentioned places in Skokie, Morton Grove, Lincolnwood, etc. before heading to the airport.

              There are also some decent food options at the airport itself. My go-to place there when I want to eat something while headed out of town is the Wolfgang Puck restaurant. And you can pick up some Garrett's Popcorn (caramel, cheese, or a mix of the two) at either of their stores in the terminals.

              Glad you liked Chef's Station! It's one of my favorites in the area, with consistently great food. And very unpretentious too. Thai Pavilion is better when food is prepared to order rather than the lunch buffet, but Thai Sookdee in Evanston is better still and has the best tom kha gai in the Chicago area.

            2. re: nsxtasy

              >> Thai Pavilion -

              Thai Pavilion is currently closed. There are signs on the windows that they plan to re-open soon under new ownership.

            3. nxtasy's list is comprehensive and very good - I would also add Taboun Grill to the list - is an Israeli Grill that is kosher so it closes early on Friday and is closed Saturday but it is very good especially their mixed grill -

              Taboun Grill
              8808 Gross Point Rd, Skokie, IL 60077

              1. Pete Miller's is really the way to go if you are willing to spend that much money. I do not even eat red meat, but my dad loves their steaks. I've never had something I didn't like there. The jazz on the weekends is awesome. Drinks and desserts are decedent as well. Obviously it is Pete Millers.. so there's no question that you're going to get good service and have a regal evening. Definitely, definitely check it out.

                The Union on Chicago Ave in Evanston is also very classy--good drinks, snazzy food. The food is exotic--of sorts. There is usually a band playing on the weekends.

                In Evanston, KOI is a Japanese restaurant that is classy but not too too dressy; it has a crisp aesthetic and good sushi. Kuni's in South Evanston has good sushi--probably better--but it is not as classy.

                If you at all like Chinese food, go to Joy Yee's Noodles in Evanston. It will be very hard to find seating, but try lunch or take out. I know people that travel great distances to come here.

                Joy Yee
                1221 W 33rd Pl, Chicago, IL 60608

                2 Replies
                1. re: GraceW

                  Pete Miller's is an institution - it's an old-school steakhouse - nothing you can't get at any other steakhouse but with a nice atmosphere. Depending on where you are staying E.J.'s in Skokie is another good steakhouse (they're only about 10-15 minutes apart so it's not much of a difference) with more of a North Woods vibe.

                  I agree that Union is a good spot - very nice beer selection. The food is not especially exotic, it's burgers and pizza albeit wood-fired pizza. As for there being music, it shares a space with a venue called SPACE that has live music but you need to pay for a ticket to get into SPACE, it's not part of the restaurant like jazz is at Miller's.

                  Stay away from Koi.

                  1. re: GraceW

                    I've been to all of these places on multiple occasions, including two this past weekend, so here's more info.

                    Pete Miller's, where I ate on Sunday (for my second time in two weeks) is the way to go if you want steaks, but I would choose one of the other places I mentioned - Chef's Station, Oceanique, Michael, etc - if you want more creative and/or contemporary cuisine. Pete's actually does a number of things well. Their steaks are as good as anywhere, and so are their burgers. (Note the broad variation in prices on their menu, from burgers for $10 to steaks for $40+.) They also do a very nice job with seafood, as good a job as their Davis Street Fishmarket sibling. Desserts, however, are nothing special. All in all, Pete Miller's is a great choice if you want steaks or burgers. (I"ve been to EJ's and thought it was overpriced and not any better.)

                    I ate at Union on Saturday evening. Overall, I thought it was just okay; the salmon entree was pretty good, but the pizza was not very good at all, even by comparison with other thin-crust pizza. The service was very good, although the room was VERY LOUD. I was also surprised to find people already waiting for tables when we arrived at 5:30. (They don't accept reservations.) If you go to SPACE, the adjoining coffeehouse-type concert venue that ferret mentioned, to hear a concert, they will let you order a pizza from Union and bring it in with you to eat, but I don't recommend doing so. Even if you have the reserved table seating, there will be four of you sharing a tiny cocktail-sized table that really isn't big enough for one of their pizzas (which are small) and drinks, and if you don't have the reseved table seating, you will be holding the pizza in your lap (unless you wind up in standing room). Eating at Union is convenient for concerts, but there are several other restaurants just a few doors away, including Noodle Garden, Blind Faith, Doziku, and Addis Abeba.

                    Koi is primarily a Chinese restaurant, and shares ownership with Chen's in Chicago. Some of the dishes on their menu are sweet, and they prepare them overly sweet, cloyingly so. I can't speak to the sushi, as I don't eat it, but like Grace, I've heard good things about the sushi at Kuni's on Main Street. There are other Chinese places in the area that are mediocre at best - Joy Yee's among them - but your best bet is to avoid Chinese in the Skokie/Evanston area, where you can find excellent examples of so many other cuisines. (If you MUST have good Chinese food, make the trip to Chinatown, south of the Loop.)