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:
Careful Peach Boutique
Looking to stock up on elegant dinnerware and other high-end products for your kitchen? Then Careful Peach Boutique is the place. Once inside, shoppers will delight at the whimsical displays of imported cookware (many from France) and other shabby chic non-kitchen items like handmade soaps, soy candles and tote bags. Cook books are available covering everything from French cuisine to quirky topics like all of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite recipes. For engaged couples, a wedding registry is available in the store and shoppers can purchase gifts for various special events for their friends and family.
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.
If antique furniture is your thing, then look no further than Divine Consign on Oak Park Avenue. Every item in the shop is single-handedly picked by the owner for to its immaculate condition and designer brand. One-of-a-kind new items are available as well, like a life-size replica of a knight’s armor or a coral reef coffee table. The shop is set up like a showroom, where visitors can browse and admire the vintage and new items. The resale prices are known to be great bargains, often substantially lower than the original prices, saving shoppers up to thousands of dollars.
Bead in Hand
Reveal your inner creativity by making your own jewelry at Bead in Hand. Upon entering this shop, you will be mesmerized by the thousands of carefully organized and displayed rainbow colored beads. Imported from exotic places like Africa and Japan, the beads come in all sorts of shapes and color. Amateur beaders shouldn’t fret, the shop’s friendly staff will happily assist you in making your new bracelet or necklace. Locals can plan their special events or birthday parties in this shop where groups can take classes together, making their own masterpiece jewelry.
Where to Eat:
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.
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.
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.