As a life long city girl, I used to think the suburban food scene was a mix of TGI Friday’s (are those still around?) mall food courts and pick up joints for over 50 divorced people. I am humble enough to admit that I was dead wrong.
A couple of weeks ago, my older Golden Retriever tore his ACL and we had to temporarily move in with my parent’s while he prepared and then recovered from surgery. Not the best situation, but I used the opportunity to explore the Food Scene of the Western Burbs. I was pleasantly surprised at the many culturally diverse restaurants, and the bar scene was on point! I picked out a few places to highlight that were unique and delicious, and I look forward to exploring more. Join me on my food tour of the Western Burbs of Chicago!
Steak & Vine ~ LaGrange, Illinois
The first stop on our tour takes us to LaGrange, Illinois at a lovely place called Steak & Vine. I was invited to a bourbon tasting dinner here and I am certainly glad I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Have you ever wanted to be one of those people who goes to a restaurant because you “know the guy”? If you answered yes, then this is the place you want to go. The food and drinks were superb. But the owner Nick’s, personality takes this restaurant to six star status. I watched him greet every customer as if they were a friend, he seems to be one of those people that makes you feel good if he knows you. The passion he has for this place and the thoughtfulness that he puts into the food, atmosphere and bar is something special.
He and his partner, renowned Chef Michael Wilson, of Morton’s Chicago & Michael’s Key West, opened up Steak & Vine in 2016 and it is unlike anything else in LaGrange. Take a look at the Tasting menu I was treated to at their Bourbon Dinner.
Five courses of food and as many courses of great Bourbon, made for a perfect night. All the dishes were good, but my very favorite was the Eggplant. I don’t even particularly like Eggplant, but this was perfectly prepared, crispy on the outside and deliciously creamy on the inside, served on top of a roasted tomato sauce. Yep, that’s a whole bunch of crab meat on the top!
The Bourbon tasting was also educational and fun. I enjoyed the Weller 12 of all the Bourbon’s we sampled but my favorite part of the tasting was the welcome cocktail. It was a unique flavor profile that I can safely say I have never experienced before. This drink was called the L.A. Woman and it was a little savory and a little sweet thanks to the celery bitters used along side the Wheatley Vodka that is made by Buffalo Trace.
Steak & Vine does monthly alcohol themed dinners and I believe the price point is around $75. Trust me when I tell you that you get your money’s worth. Besides these monthly dinners it is a great place for a quick bite at the bar, or for a leisurely dinner out on the town. Prime steaks, a great bar, and many other great menu selections. It is highly Tipsy recommended. Take a look at the rest of the pics from my dinner, below.
Ttowa ~ Arlington Heights, Illinois
Ttowa, I’ve been before, I’ve gone now, and I will DEFINITELY be going again, and again, and again. This place is THAT good. Ttowa is good for any one who has never had Korean food and for anyone who eats Korean food all the time. I believe Original Tipsy (my Mom) read about this place or saw it on TV and she wanted to go for her birthday a couple of years ago. So we trekked out to Arlington Heights from the city and I am surely glad we did. I don’t even know where to start. EVERYTHING is good. There hasn’t been one thing on the menu that we have had that I wouldn’t get again. We liked it so much last time that Original Tipsy was given a $100 gift card, so we decided with nothing to do on a Friday night, to put it to good use. Take a look at what we ate.
The best way to start your Korean adventure is with the Bao buns.
This particular evening they had a Bao Bun special, four buns for $11. They were a mix of the pork belly and the chicken. Both were great but the pork belly really stood out. Perfectly crispy on the outside and great tender meat on the next bite. If you go here I highly recommend you get an individual order for each person, they are THAT good.
We also had your typical Korean fare. Dumplings, & the Banchan, which are small dishes of food served with most Korean meals. Our Banchan were out of this world! Delightful potato salad, some candied eggplant and two kinds of kimchi. I say typical Korean fare, but trust me, this food is anything but typical. We also had traditional Bulgogi which is a thin sliced marinated steak that you eat with rice. If you go, you do not have to ask for the Banchan, it is served with your meal complimentary and it is unlimited refills.
The highlight of our meal was the Seafood and Rice Cakes. The rice cakes are not what you are thinking. They are similar to gnocchi in size and shape but the flavor and texture is so unique. They are chewy and pan-fried and fabulous. these appear on the menu in several places, I am sure they are all good. This time we had them with the seafood. Calamari, Scallops and Octopus. Served in a sauce with a low heat. When you neared the end of eating the dish, they take the remainder back into the kitchen, add rice and turn it into a paella for you to take home, so that you do not waste one single drop of the that delicious sauce.
This place is worth a drive from the city. It’s a low-key atmosphere. They serve alcohol and even some Korean beers. The owner is a doll, so friendly and patient. Do not be intimidated if you don’t know what to order, he will talk you through the menu and make great recommendations. It is also casual and affordable! Be sure to thank me, actually thank Original Tipsy, after you go!
Rosticeria Los Fernandez ~ Elmhurst, Illinois
Los Fernandez Rosticeria, this place has been on the corner by my parent’s house for I don’t know how long. We must have passed it hundreds of times. This last time I asked Original Tipsy why we never go there to eat when it always looks crowded. She said “you know I don’t know, I guess I don’t really know what to get from there”. I decided to do some research. I found their website, and it was mostly all in Spanish, thankfully the 12 years of school Spanish and 10+ years of Kitchen Spanish got me through it. I was able to see that they are known for the wood fire, hickory roasted chicken. SCORE! We decided to give it a try. So glad we did, I had the tacos, but everyone else got chicken. The tacos were perfection. My favorite was the Al Pastor. It was REAL Al Pastor too, shaved with crunchy bits of pork and pineapple.
The Mexican Chicken dinner is where the real deal is at. The flavors on the chicken were so good. The dark meat was juicy and the white meat does tend to be on the dry side from the smoking, but it is still great. Served with homemade beans, rice, grilled onions and cactus. We liked it so much we ate here twice while the dog recovered. I cannot wait to go back.
Pazzi Di Pizza ~ Elmhurst, Illinois
Pazzi De Pizza in Elmhurst is THE place for a great atmosphere and great food.I was craving some Italian comfort food, specifically Ravioli. Original Tipsy suggested this place so we could sit on the patio, have a drink and an appetizer and some dinner. Great call, the patio was gorgeous, and it was one of the last nice days of the patio season. I started with a Cosmopolitan, which I haven’t had in years and it was delicious, not too sweet and just strong enough to take the edge off.
We decided on the zucchini cake appetizer. I typically do not order fried zucchini because it is usually greasy. This was not. Perfectly fried crispy cakes, melted cheese and a delicious sauce.
Original Tipsy talked about how she loved the Frito Misto and so she decided to order this for her meal though it is listed under appetizers, and I decided on the ravioli. Neither of us was disappointed in our choices. I even had a great glass of wine with my meal. This place is walk-able from the train, had easy parking and was a fun place to be on a Friday night. I now know where I can get great Italian when visiting Mom.
Zenwich ~ Elmhurst, Illinois
My final stop on this food tour is at an old favorite spot for lunch. Zenwich, in Elmhurst, Illinois. Korean/Asian inspired sandwiches and soups. I have literally had everything on the menu. Most recently I had the Pork Katsu Sandwich and Egg Drop Soup. The Pork Katsu was a Panko crusted pork cutlet, wasabi slaw, and a spicy Tonkatsu Sauce. The Egg Drop Soup had soft tofu in it and crunchy scallion, it hit the spot.
There isn’t one menu item I wouldn’t recommend. The Korean Philly is great and the calamari is something to be seen. It gets crowded so I feel it is best to take it to go. They pack their sandwiches in such a way that it bodes well for travel. This place is always a treat when I am in Elmhurst.
Every restaurant I mentioned is worth a drive or a train ride from the city. I look forward to exploring more places in the burbs. If you have any suburban food recommendations email them to me at TheTipsyHousewife@gmail.com!
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