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Restaurants & Bars 11

Ravinia area food (very long)

George R | Feb 7, 200406:10 PM

Because I live and work in Highland Park’s Ravinia neighborhood, Cathy2 suggested I list food sources in the area for the benefit of visitors and summer concert-goers.

Ravinia is about 20 miles north of downtown Chicago. Our business district is a ten minute walk from the gate to Ravinia Park, summer home of the Chicago Symphony. The Ravinia Business District is along Roger Williams Avenue (one mile north of Lake Cook Road), from Green Bay Road to one block east of the Northwestern (Metra) train tracks. All the places listed below are either on Roger Williams or just off of it.

Ravinia Park holds classical and popular concerts from June through Labor Day. Many people bring their own food to picnic on the lawn. Chairs and tables can be rented for a modest fee. The Park has food vendors with event pricing. They’re described on Ravinia Park’s website:

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a mile from us on Lake Cook Road, and is open year round. Also, there is a nice beach at the east end of Roger Williams Avenue (non-residents will need a parking permit).

Eat in:

–The Ravinia Bistro
581 Roger Williams
Highland Park
Lunch, dinner 7 days

French country. A favorite; we've never had a bad meal in 15 years. The Bistro has been around since the early 80's. The founding family was from Provence; they sold out two years ago to the Taylor family and the new owners wisely retained chef, wait staff and menu, while carefully fine-tuning – more specials, expanded liquor license so they can offer mixed drinks, etc.

Entree prices are $18-24 and include salad or soup (my wife loves their tomato soup), veggie and starch. The rack of lamb and the roast duck are particularly good. There’s a full range of dishes -- tournedos, bouillabaisse, two versions of tilapia, etc. Also crepes and omelets. The salmon and roast chicken are OK, but we prefer other dishes. Specials run $20-25 and usually include a risotto, a seafood dish and one or two meat dishes. The wine list has been cited for offering good selection at reasonable prices.

Service is friendly and efficient. Decor is simple, but pleasant. Reservations are a good idea on weekends; it gets very busy during the Ravinia concert season.

They also prepare Ravinia picnic baskets.

Shameless commerce: I've held dinners there for my clients, and it's always been a success. To view the menu of a special dinner we had in October, 2003, see the link below.

–Happi Sushi
561 Roger Williams

I rarely eat sushi so I’m not a good judge of it, but I do go to sushi restaurants for cooked fish on the theory the fish will be good. We’ve found the cooked dishes here to be tasty; I especially like the salmon in black bean sauce. The tempura and sukiyaki are also good.

–Shelton’s Ravinia Grill
481 Roger Williams

Breakfast. Was a Highland Park institution for decades; kids from Ravinia School lunched there on burgers and fries all the time. A scene from "Risky Business" with Tom Cruise was shot there. Not the same since founder Bud Shelton died. Mrs. Shelton opens around 6 am. On school days she closes from 7:30 to 9 am to go to her job as a crossing guard, then reopens from 9 to 10 am.

–Ravinia BBQ & Grill
594 Roger Williams

Ribs, sandwiches, etc. We’ve not had anything from there in quite a few years, but those who have tell us the food is still tasty, though the service is sometimes uneven.

Take out:

–Pasta Fresca
493 Roger Williams

Owner Gino Fontana really knows how to cook. There are always more than a dozen prepared dishes ready for take out. If you want, they can be heated in a microwave. The pasta dishes are uniformly excellent from spaghetti with meat sauce to roasted vegetable ravioli to shells with puttanesca sauce. There are always several chicken dishes (I like the chicken with artichokes), often fish and/or beef. The meat dish selection has expanded to satisfy Atkins dieters. Also, a salad and a side dish or two. In winter there usually is a soup (I like the Italian wedding soup with its tiny meat balls), and in summer the salad selection is expanded.

–Piero’s Pizza
737 Broadview

Really good pizza in thin, pan and stuffed varieties. Nice crust, excellent sauce – intense, well-balanced. My family’s favorite despite many others nearby (Malnati’s is just two miles away). If I suggest trying someplace else, the response is always why bother when Piero’s is so good. Also has a decent Italian beef sandwich. Not to be confused with the Piero’s Pizza on Ridge Road in Wilmette.

–Java Love
723 St. Johns Avenue

A nice little café with the usual espresso drinks. My wife is the coffee drinker in the family and tells me the café latté is quite good. Also a selection of muffins, etc.

–Noble Romans
591 Roger Williams Avenue

This branch of an Indianapolis-based pizza chain is scheduled to open in early February 2004. For comments from the Midwest Board go to:


–Hunan Pearl
586 Roger Williams

Standard Chinese menu. They use fresh ingredients, but sometimes the flavors just don’t work. Many stir-fry dishes are heavy on celery; the celery and carrots are cut too large to cook through fully. I find a few dishes OK for a quick lunch, but my wife only eats the shrimp fried rice. If we have time, we’ll get lunch from Chinese restaurants further afield.

–For last minute picnic supplies, beverages, etc. there’s a Walgreen’s and a White Hen. The White Hen also has a deli counter.


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