Dining al fresco on Chicago’s North Shore Part II: Lake Forest
today at 2:59 pm
Today, in Part II of our 5-part series, “Dining al fresco on Chicago’s North Shore,” Show Me Chicago showcases Lake Forest.
Lake Forest is a 26 mile trek north from Chicago.
You can take the expressway, but if you have a little extra time you may want to consider the more scenic route through the historically significant, tree-lined communities of Chicago’s North Shore.
The Journey Begins
Take Lake Shore Drive north to where it ends at Hollywood and connects with Sheridan Road and continue north.
Stay alert on Sheridan Road as it twists and turns its way past impressive estates and significant landmarks.
Once in Evanston, you’ll pass through three downtown business districts before coming to the lakeshore campus of Northwestern University at the northern border of Evanston.
From there, you’ll enter Wilmette where you’ll see the Bahá’í House of Worship (100 Linden Ave). The massive structure surrounded by gardens and the lake is hard to miss.
As you continue on Sheridan Road you’ll drive through Kenilworth, Winnetka, Glencoe and Highland Park where you’ll see many large estates and occasional glimpses of the lake.
At the northern border of Highwood you’ll get a glimpse of historic Ft. Sheridan–established as U.S. Army post in 1887 (to 1993). In 1984 parts of Fort Sheridan were designated a National Historic Landmark District.
Although it is now home to the “Town of Ft. Sheridan” many of the original structures remain.
Stay on Sheridan Rd. for another 2 miles, past the Lake Forest College campus (and Halas Hall) to Deerpath Road where you’ll want to turn left (west) to Western Avenue.
Known as an affluent community with a rich architectural history and home to many of the captains of industry, Lake Forest offers natural beauty along with a rich heritage and a diverse mix of dining choices.
The city spans 17.246 square miles from the lakefront on the east side to the Tri-State Tollway (I-94) on the west side.
The heart of Lake Forest is Market Square (on Western Avenue just north of Deerpath Road).
Heralded as the first planned shopping center, Market Square was designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw in 1916.
Show Me Chicago will be covering restaurants in Market Square and surrounding area covering a 1/2 mile radius.
The Deer Path Inn
If you are looking to soak up a little history of Lake Forest along with an elegant meal, head to the Deer Path Inn (255 E. Illinois) for breakfast, lunch, dinner or afternoon tea.
Just named the 2nd best resort hotel in the Country by Travel & Leisure magazine, the Deer Path Inn–is an elegant Tudor Style hotel with three different dining venues (two have outdoor courtyards) open to hotel guests as well as the public.
It’s hard to beat the courtyard (or the garden) for alfresco dining. They also have a casual pub and bar as well as the fine dining English Room.
Recently we had a leisurely breakfast in the garden among the greenery with a delightful backdrop of chirping birds and music.
The Lantern (768 N. Western) is a longtime favorite of both Lake Forest College students and locals. It’s a great spot for burgers, beer and much more.
Upon entering the Lantern you’ll see photos of Chicago Bears from the 1985 Super Bowl Championship team who spent a great deal of their off-field time there. Even today don’t be surprised to see some of the former Bears as well as players from other teams gathering there.
If you look up you’ll see model trains circling the dining room–a popular feature with families (as is the balloon lady who’s currently on hiatus due to the coronavirus).
The Lantern offers both indoor and outdoor dining.
The Left Bank (659 N.Bank Ln.) has been around in one form or another since 1963 when Bob Pasquesi and his wife Gert founded Left Bank
It’s a great spot for hot dogs, tacos, pizza and burgers. And you never know who you might see from neighbor kids to celebs including Lake Forest native Vince Vaughn who likes to stop by when he’s in town.
Sweet’s (280 E. Deerpath Rd.) has been part of the Lake Forest landscape since 1982 when local residents Susan and Jonathan Dick founded the family run business as a quintessential penny candy and ice cream shoppe.
Through the years it has expanded nationwide distributing original gift baskets and corporate gifts while still attracting kids and families.
Its welcoming atmosphere featuring wooden floors, cheerful yellow-stenciled walls and their iconic oversized copper kettle along with quality sweets keeps people returning again and again.
Amidei Mercatino Open-Air Market
Thirty-one years ago, Amidei Mercatino (235 Southgate) opened his open-air market in an alleyway behind the Marshall Field’s Store on Market Square. Since then the charming marketplace has become a favorite with residents and visitors alike for fresh produce, healthy plants, local honey, jams, jellies and much more.
The Market is open daily from April to December. Every year, following Thanksgiving, the Market offers holiday decor and trees.
Gerhard’s (20 N. Western Ave.) Square is a delightful place to take a break from shopping and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee and an elegant pastry, a mini-quiche or a healthy yogurt and fruit parfait.
For three decades, Gerhard’s owner Mary Greub has meticulously adhered to what she calls “Swiss standards” in preparation and presentation.
There are desserts for every taste and price range from doughnut and croissants to chocolate chip cookies, and beautiful cakes. Perhaps the most popular dessert of all just might be the Dark Chocolate Mousse (pictured here)
Market House on the Square
The former Lake Forest firehouse was converted to the Southgate Restaurant back in 1980’s. Upon opening, it became an instant hit with its large patio outdoors and charming garden room, bar and dining room inside.
In 2012, it became the Market House on the Square. The restaurant focuses on farm-to-table while still offering many of Market House’s popular legacy dishes.
Market House (655 Forest Ave) sits on the southeast corner of the Square.
Craving Mexican? Head to Authentico (770 N. Western Ave.), which bills itself as a traditional Mexican restaurant with a modern twist.
Looking for Italian? Francesca’s Intimo (293 E Illinois Rd.) fills the bill serving up a, zesty earthy cuisine accented with the flavors of Rome.
Foodstuffs, (255 E Westminster), a high quality gourmet food store also offers a sandwich, salads and soup menu to go or to be enjoyed at their outdoor tables.
The Gallery (202 E Wisconsin Ave) combines fine art with fine food. The revolving menus reflect the art displayed on the walls.
The Peanut Gallery (950 N Western Ave), a sibling of the Gallery offers a more casual atmosphere along with great burgers and more.
Lake Bluff Dining
To see Part I of Dining on Chicago’s North Shore featuring Lake Bluff, click here.
Check out the unique shops and bargains and grab a bite (make reservations) Lake Forest and Lake Bluff shops. The sale runs through July 18
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Al Fresco Dining