North By Northwest (Highway)- Park Ridge

| August 25, 2009 | 0 Comments

pickwick

For the latest and last installment of our tour of Northwest Highway, the heart of the Northwest Side, we welcome you to the suburb of Park Ridge, IL. Located 15 miles from the Loop, Park Ridge occupies about 7 square miles of prime real estate . We are only concerned, however, with the small area comprising Uptown, starting where Northwest Highway meets Ridge and ending at the intersection with Meachem. Because you have now left the City, the numbers along NW Highway start over, so let’s make the first stop every kid’s favorite breakfast place, 106 S. Northwest Highway, also known as the Original Pancake House. The OPH is a hit in our household not just for their rainbow pancakes (Kidlet’s pick), their Eggs Michael (Mr. Cindy’s favorite) or their omelettes (my choice), but also for their year-round Christmas tree and its always-on train. Get a seat near the tree for the best view!

Next door, through the connected parking lot, is a mini mall with Le Peep, Siam Thai Restaurant and a Starbucks, among some other smaller places (all at Euclid Ave, just off NW Highway and Summitt). Slightly farther along is Venus Restaurant, specializing in Szechuan and Mandarin cuisine at 18 N. NW Hgwy. Next door to that is Maki Sushi and Noodle Shop. Both places offer a slightly fancier menu that most places in the area but they are worth it. I’d love to talk more about the décor of both places, but with a little one who will still can’t get to eat General Tso’s or sushi, we mostly get their take out now (or as they say in Chicago, carry out). Maki’s Sushi Dai, the 9 piece variety entrée, is excellent and a great way to introduce yourself to the different flavors of sushi. (And if you can tell me how to get a toddler to try some, please let me know!). In the same block are two more must-see places, one being Lisa’s Homemade Italian Ice (yes, homemade and all delicious) and the other being the famous Pickwick Restaurant, on the corner with Prospect Ave. For a diner, the Pickwick is fine, but it’s more famous for being home of the Hillary—a sandwich named for the Secretary of State and former First Lady since Park Ridge is her hometown. I am a fan of their tuna melts, personally. And even though it’s just OFF Northwest Highway and not technically part of this tour, don’t forget to visit the old-school Pickwick Theater just down the road on Prospect, across from the fantastic Park Ridge Public Library.

At Northwest and Touhy is an entirely new condo/storefront condos. Inside are two restaurants I have fallen in love with, Noodles and Company and Jason’s Deli. Noodles recently offered a free lunch to me and some co-workers and we had personalized, attentive service with a wonderful meal. Their mac and cheese, by the way, is to DIE for; it’s not just for kids. In fact, don’t waste it on the kids, they can’t appreciate the ooey layers of cheese. Jason’s Deli, rated One of the Ten Best Restaurants in America by Parents Magazine (it came in at number 2), offers a wide selection of organic and HFCS-, trans fat- and nitrate-free products at an affordable price.  (Most kids meals are under $4, and include sides like carrots and organic apple juice.)  Adult meals are just as healthy; you can get a half-order, a trip through the salad bar or baked potato chips.  There are some new shops just opening up in the same center, like the home furnishing store Amphora, so check back often to see what’s coming!

The last stop on the SW side of Northwest Highway in Park Ridge is another small shopping center, housing a Chico’s Clothing store, a Jos. A Bank, and two of my favorite places, Kriser’s Pet Store and Trader Joe’s, both serving healthy food, one for your dogs and one for you.  I find TJ’s inventory limited sometimes, but their customer service is phenomenal, the cashiers are the coolest people on Earth and my daughter loves taking the little cart around the store and searching for Gorilla Joe, often hidden among the pasta or beauty products.  Their prices are much cheaper than another all-natural grocery store I could name, too!

Let’s start on the other side of the street now, at the corner of Summitt and NW Highway.  This happens to be my favorite place for a quick meal: Potbelly’s sub shop.  Their chicken salad is to die for and now they have salads, too.  I feel a little silly ordering a ‘chicken salad SALAD’ so I am sort of hoping they change the redundancy of the name, but they are about the only fast food I eat.  They catered Kidlet’s birthday one year for me and there is nothing like a fresh-from-the-oven meal on a cold winter’s day.  Next door is a locally-owned wine store, WineStyles and next to that is Oberweis Dairy.  FYI there is a free parking lot behind all these shops in Uptown, and the parking lot of the library takes care of the overflow.  So, if you don’t feel like hopping the NW bus, you can easily drive.

At the next corner, the last spot on this tour, is Panera Bread, which has terrific kid-sized meals.  Next to that is the newly-reopened Al’s Beef, and then comes my second-favorite place in the area, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  Now, it’s true that I don’t know what chocolate really tastes like in the Rocky Mountains, but if it is as tasty as what is offered at its namesake shop, I’m in!  RMCF hand-makes its offerings, everything from chocolate dipped frozen bananas to peppermint bark to chocolate covered Oreos.  You will recognize the outside of the shop by the giant stuffed bear sitting near the door, greeting passers-by.  You will recognize the inside by the smell of freshly-made chocolate!

And that wraps up our tour of the northwest side’s spectacular Northwest Highway.  You have my assurance–and now actual proof– that there is indeed life here among the O’Hare noise and post-war bungalows.  Come visit soon!

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About the Author ()

Cindy La Greca is a part-time children’s librarian and full-time mom. She writes to you from the Chicago’s northwest side.

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