Celebrate Oak Brook as a dining mecca with ‘Restaurant Week’ April 22-30

By Larry Atseff

For a town of less than 10,000 residents, Oak Brook has become very well known for its restaurants, even restaurant chain headquarters. And, we want to celebrate Restaurant Week, April 22-30, with you.

How Oak Brook Became A Dining Mecca

It all started with the vision of Paul Butler who wanted to create an upscale community where people of means could live, work, play, shop, and enjoy the finer things in life…to include dining. It even became a focal point for 47 years as the headquarters of the largest restaurant chain in the world…McDonald’s. This development as a dining center didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it has taken decades. While Paul Butler set an enviable foundation with his vision for Oak Brook as a village, Oak Brook dining could have never happened unless Chicago itself hadn’t become a draw for restaurants and restaurateurs. According to Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune dining critic for 31 years, “I had a ring-side seat and watched as Chicago evolved. Top chefs like Rick Bayless came to town, after spending years in Mexico learning how to prepare authentic Mexican fare. Others, like Charlie Trotter, were self-taught. Still, others learned at locations like Gordon’s, who in turn, taught the likes of John Terzcak, Ron Blazek, Michael Smith, Stewart Parsons, and Don Yamauchi.”

Of course, one of the most well known restaurateurs is Rich Melman, who founded Lettuce Entertainment Enterprises, which has spawned dozens of successful restaurant concepts. In fact, Melman has had as many as 5 restaurants in Oak Brook. And, of course, Oak Brook’s own Dick Portillo is known for founding one of the most successful chains, his namesake Portillo’s Restaurants. Both are featured in this special section. Other factors contributed. High restaurant rents in large cities on the east and west coast drove up-and coming chefs to Chicago with its more reasonable rents. Further, in densely populated cities, since apartments and kitchens are small, eating out is more the norm. In the Chicago area, dining out can be more of a special occasion. No wonder the National Restaurant Show has come to Chicago for decades. Certainly, Oak Brook is the perfect setting for special occasion dining. As Vettel puts it, “All the elements for fine dining are in Oak Brook. It is an upscale community, and the residents can and do appreciate the good things in life. It is headquarters for many businesses. It has one of the finest upscale malls in Oakbrook Center.”

Celebrate with Restaurant Week, April 22-30

There are dozens upon dozens of restaurants in Oak Brook and surrounding areas. We have selected sixty and more and have organized them by cuisine. Many are offering specials during the week. You can go through the list, click on their website and automatically go to their website. The list may also introduce you to some restaurants you may not have considered. Bon’ appetit. In any event, get out and enjoy excellent dining in the Oak Brook area.

*Photos by Marcello Rodarte

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