A's List: A host of hot, new suburban destinations to add to your list
By Audarshia Townsend
When you’re a hardcore city girl like me, it takes a lot to hit up the suburbs. There are soooo many restaurants I’ve yet to explore in Chicago, so the thought of adding even more to the list gets me in panic mode.
But you know what? Curiosity got the best of me. There are neighborhoods outside of the city limits with thriving restaurant communities, and I want to make a point to check them out. To get started, I've decided to visit some suburban newcomers making their presence known with unique offerings.
From a triple-threat, French-focused destination in Winnetka to a Mexican-inspired eatery in Glenview serving made-to-order hibiscus tortillas, here are some noteworthy new places to put on your list.
Aboyer/George Trois/Silencieux (64 Green Bay Road, Winnetka)
This mini empire of restaurants under one roof is from Winnetka-based chef Michael Lachowicz, who’s classically trained in French technique. His George Trois, which has been heralded as one of Chicagoland’s greatest, has been around for a few years, but Aboyer and Silencieux are brand new. While George Trois offers a one-of-a-kind tasting menu, Aboyer and Silencieux take more of a casual approach. Over at Silencieux, the mood is reserved in a space formerly used for private dining. The prix-fixe only selections range from lobster ravioli to the restaurant's specialty, whole roasted Dover sole—which is served tableside with frothy hazelnut lobster jus. Aboyer is situated in an open space in the building. Its theme is American-French brasserie with the likes of chorizo-stuffed roasted quail, Alaskan halibut ceviche, and Angus hanger steak accompanied by pommes frites and chimichurri bernaise. Reservations are required to dine at George Trois and Silencieux; guests may just pop in over at Aboyer, which is ideal for meeting friends or a sig other for dinner or Sunday brunch.
Blackberry Market (36 S. La Grange Rd., La Grange)
It’s the second time around for wife-and-husband team Anna and Bob Davidson, whose super-successful Glen Ellyn spot births a sequel in downtown La Grange. Blackberry Market has become an instant classic in this bustling community, which is home to several locally owned boutiques, shops and restaurants. It certainly fits right in with its cheery demeanor, award-winning cinnamon rolls and market-fresh salads and sandwiches. There’s an outdoor seating area, too, allowing diners to gaze upon the steady passers-by. It makes for great people watching.
Mercado Cocina | Cantina (2300 Lehigh Ave., Glenview)
Directly across the street from the Metra station you’ll find this sensational Mexican restaurant. It’s located in an unassuming strip mall, but there is nothing conventional about Mercado. Chef/owner Yanitizin "Yanni" Sanchez was previously in Wicker Park with a restaurant she once owned called Sabor Saveur. Here, she’s introducing diners to the food she grew up on—Mexican street fare—as well as her renditions of global cuisine. She’s also having the time of her life playing with seasonal ingredients, from infusing fresh hibiscus in tortillas to putting her spin on classic guacamole. Her market guacamole with goat cheese and pistachios is creamy, nutty and wonderful—and pairs well with house-made chips. For those looking for more traditional Mexican fare, Sanchez offers the likes of carne asada, chicken mole enchiladas and chicken burritos.
Pennyville Station (112 Main Street, Park Ridge)
Talk about a throwback! Park Ridge native and hospitality industry vet Tony Antonacci decided to uncover some of the suburb’s rich history and pays homage to its heritage with this lively restaurant. Word is that Park Ridge was once called Pennyville and was named so by its first settler in the mid-1800s. Guests to the restaurant will be awestruck by its interior, which seamlessly connects the past to the present. Historic black-and-white images of the town line the walls, vibrant wall art from Chicago artist Joey Africa brightens up the space, and eclectic, mismatched tables, chairs and plates offer a folksy vibe. For the menu, Antonacci snapped up former Tavern on Rush chef Jose “Mosquito” Alverez, who serves as Pennyville’s executive chef. He showcases seasonal fare that's approachable, yet creative. Dishes like lemon basil hummus; shishito & corn topped with parmesan butter sauce, lime and paprika; jalapeno chicken (slow-roasted chicken infused with jalapenos and served with wedge potatoes), gnocchi with roasted squash and goat cheese in a sage butter sauce; and pappardelle with braised short rib are only a few of the many stars. Pennyville’s across the street from the Metra station.
Phat Phat (17 S. Roselle Rd., Schaumburg)
The team behind Imperial Lamian, the award-winning, Chinese-influenced eatery in River North, takes its talents to Schaumburg for a second concept. Phat Phat aims to bring Chinese food from the Southeast Asia perspective (think traditional Chinese, plus fare from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia) to this community that's home to the famed Woodfield Mall. Highlights on Phat Phat's menu include fried rice, rice clay pots and coconut chili shrimp. In addition, a few signature Imperial Lamian dishes like traditional Shanghai soup dumplings will also be offered. One of the stars of the dessert program is a take on Taiwanese shaved ice, which will boast toppings like sweet red beans, taro and mixed fruit. Phat Phat opens in August.
See previous A's List columns right here.