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Oak Park Like a Local: Where to Shop, Eat, and Drink

A Local’s Guide to the Oak Park Area: Where to Shop and Where to Eat & Drink

Is a much needed staycation long overdue? Luckily, if you live in the Chicagoland area, save yourself the burden of hopping on a plane or going on a long road trip by spending your days in Oak Park. An oasis for shopping, dining and drinking, the area is an ideal spot to spend the day with friends or family. In fact, Huffington Post named Oak Park one of the top ten neighborhoods in the nation, praising its architecture and family-oriented vibe. So call up your friends and make plans for the weekend. Here is your local’s guide for where to shop, where to eat, and where to drink in Oak Park.

Where to Shop:

A Local's Guide to the Oak Park Area - The Book Table

The Book Table
Prepare to be dazzled by over 60,000 titles to browse through in this bookstore on Lake Street. The Book Table is home to new and used copies at bargain prices (some going as high as 50% off). Shoppers can stroll past walls of discounted books and tables, covered with titles selected as favorites by staff, or the newest released books. Fun non-book items are also available for purchase, such as book-themed tote bags, bookmarks, mugs, calendars and more. Bring along the kids, the bookstore has a designated children's section where kids can curl up and read their favorite books.

Oak Park Visitors Center
The Oak Park Visitors Center, sometimes perceived as a resource solely for tourists, recently tapped into the vibrant arts scene in the community with the launch of “Urban Local Made”. This program comprises a curated collection of artwork and gifts from local makers, encompassing everything from funky metalwork to handmade ceramics, in an effort to showcase the entrepreneurial spirit of the area's innovative artists. Urban Local Made also aims to provide more authentic experiences for tourists by encouraging patronization of small businesses that offer locally sourced products.

Ten Thousand Villages
Shopping with a conscience has never been easier. Ten Thousand Villages offers handmade gifts made by artisans from more than 35 countries across the globe. Discover home décor, striking jewelry, unique tableware, and so much more – all the while ensuring the makers are earning their fair share.

Oak Park Farmer’s Market
During warmer days, Oak Park comes alive with dozens of local vendors showcasing their freshest produce and artisan goods at Oak Park Farmer’s Market. Held every Saturday from May through October in the parking lot of Pilgrim Church, visitors can stroll past vendors selling freshly-baked breads, recently-harvested bell peppers, bouquets of flowers and more. Come hungry, there are plenty of ready-to-eat items like doughnuts straight out of the oven and pastries (perfect for a light breakfast in the morning). The market is dog-friendly, so your furry companions are more than welcome to tag along.

Geppetto's Toy Box
A European-inspired shop offering “unplugged” toys that encourage imagination, it’s easy to find a toy for children of all ages and personalities at Geppetto’s Toy Box. The eclectic mix of products, encompassing everything from puzzles to art supplies, is intended to appeal to the conscious consumer and withstand years of exploration.

A Local's Guide to the Oak Park Area - Francesca's Fiore

Where to Eat:

Francesca’s Fiore
In Forest Park, Francesca’s Fiore will have you salivating as your waiter brings you plates of fresh pastas mixed with homemade sauces and herbs. This upscale restaurant, filled with white tablecloths and a roaring fireplace, will make you feel pampered and cozy. The meals are prepared by award-winning chefs with honorable mentions in elite press like Bon Appetit and Chicago Magazine, so expect to be in for a real treat. The menu is authentic Italian, written in the native tongue with English descriptions attached and offers items like Linguine al Sugo di Gamberi (pasta with shrimp and scallops). Save room for desserts and order ladyfingers dipped in espresso or cream puffs with pistachio gelato.

Poor Phil’s Bar and Grill
Seafood lovers, this is your place. Come mingle with the locals over shellfish plates and cold beers, in the laid-back environment of Poor Phil’s Bar and Grill. Serving since 1962, the restaurant features breakfast, lunch and dinner menus with culinary delights like a bed of oysters, lobster rolls, soft shell crab sandwiches, and Cajun calamari paired with melted warm butter. Throughout the establishment, diners will notice memorabilia from many of Chicago’s sport teams plastered on the walls, along with hundreds of previously used draft beer handles. Over 36 craft beers will be available on tap, along with hundreds of bottled brews ready for you to sample and enjoy while watching sports on one of its flat screen TVs.

The Little Gem Café
Enjoy a European dining experience when you choose The Little Gem Café. Food connoisseurs will enjoy the creativity of entrees like salmon fillet with zucchini pancake, gouda stuffed pork chop or seared scallops. The menu includes a full selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well. Check their website for special events including live music, Tuesday night craft beer and wine pairings, and Thursday nights for half off designated bottles of wine and select appetizers.

Q-BBQ
As we all know, not all barbeque is created equal. Q-BBQ is a culmination of diligent research, savoring barbeque across the country. Owner, Michael LaPidus took the best of all those flavors to create Q-BBQ’s own signature cuisine, winning numerous Michelin Guide awards for culinary excellence along the way. From pulled pork to spicy sausage to Memphis baby back ribs (smoked anywhere from 1-24 hours!), get ready for your favorite comfort-food with style. Great sides include brussel sprouts, hush puppies and mac n’ cheese.

Where to Drink:

Quincy Street Distillery
It’s not easy standing out among Chicagoland’s crowded slate of distilleries, but Riverside’s Quincy Street Distillery does so with ease thanks to its small-batch artisanal spirits and historically-inspired recipes. Tour the facility for tidbits about the area’s history of prohibition, and cap off your visit with a sample one of only several malt rye whiskeys in the US or a handcrafted cocktail in the speakeasy bar. We recommend the South Side cocktail, a refreshing mix of dry gin, lime, simple syrup, and mint that is pitch perfect on a warm summer evening.

Kinslahger Brewery
Hailed as one of the nation’s best local breweries by Travel + Leisure, Kinslahger distinguishes itself from the competition thanks to its focus on a generally underappreciated brew in the craft beer communuty - lagered beers. Flavorful flagship beers for every palate – from the creamy body of the Baltic Porter brew to the toasty, earthy hop of the Chicago Common – are always available on tap, alongside a rotating selection of small-batch seasonal brews, nitrogen coffee, and house-made sodas. Looking for a snack to compliment your pint? Kinslahger is always BYOF, or plan a visit around Food Truck Friday when farm-to-table butcher shop Carnivore comes to the taproom with an assortment of delicious bites.

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