Oak Park Food Truck Rally

Chicago Cupcake

We love food trucks! The casual atmosphere and the great food just make them so much fun. We have wanted to check out the food truck scene in Chicago but unfortunately, not living and working in the city makes it a bit difficult. So when we heard about a food truck festival in Oak Park on a weekend we had to check it out. We managed to check out several trucks. Here are my thoughts, in the order we tried them:

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The Gage, Chicago

Typically, restaurants in touristy areas are overpriced with average, at best, food. But, we have been pleasantly surprised here in Chicago. The Gage is another, with a location directly across from Millennium Park, which was wonderful!

We made a last minute date to see a matinee nearby and decided to check out The Gage for an early dinner so that we could just walk over from the play. The Gage is an upscale tavern with kicked up comfort food. We met some friends prior to dinner for drinks at the bar. The bar menu is fun with a variety of sprits, in particular whisky (if you are a whisky drinker!), beers, and wines. The bar is beautiful with oak wood shelving and leather riveted barstools.

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Fire It Up, Naperville

Shrimp Tacos

Fire It Up is the brick and mortar location of what was once a food truck, which is clear from the simple straightforward menu. Being new to the area, we were not aware of the food truck but did come across this location when looking for a fun lunch when out running errands. The space is small with maybe 10 tables but the food comes out quickly. The restaurant focuses on using grass-fed meats and local and organic produce and all the sauces are homemade. The menu is primarily tacos and an order includes two of each but they can also be ordered individually. In our two visits, we have managed to try most of them. Mind you, these are not traditional tacos but rather fun, unique flavors and combinations. The steak taco has nicely seasoned steak with a delicious green chili. The shrimp taco has perfectly cooked shrimp with cabbage and a lemon aioli; it is wonderful! The chicken taco was the least interesting of those we tried but still good with a grilled chicken, onion, mixed greens and tomato salsa. Our favorite is the gringo taco which is fried and filled with a ground beef, bean, and cheese filling. It is really a fun, delicious taco! The chimichurri rice and beans are a delicious side dish which takes this simple dish up a notch with the spice of the chimichurri. We have also tried the mini-brownie chimichangas which are the only dessert option. The small brownie bites are battered and deep fried and served with a chocolate sauce. They are a wonderful way to end the meal.

Overall, we really enjoyed the flavors and delicious food at Fire It Up. We will certainly visit again.

Fire It Up
572 Weston Ridge Dr, Ste 112
Naperville, IL 60563

Wild Tuna Contemporary Sushi, Naperville

Tuna Tower

It is always necessary to find a local sushi place that is your go to. We have found Wild Tuna to be a great option out here in the western suburbs. Located in one of the many strip malls that dot Route 59, it is a simple, clean, if rather uninspired space. There is a small bar along the right hand side wall as you walk in and a sushi bar along the back of the space. We have visited several times and also gotten take out on a few occasions. In our visits the place is often fairly full and the service has been quite pleasant.

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Blackbird, Chicago

A few weeks ago G surprised me with a night in the city. We started with a drink at our hotel and then we headed out to Blackbird for dinner. The space is small but relaxed and comfortable. The closely packed tables are covered with white linens and have dark wooden chairs. The back of the restaurant is an open kitchen with a beautiful wooden counter. I did notice that the lighting was fantastic; it offered a lovely glow without being too dim to see the menu or food. Very nicely done!

We were seated near the open kitchen which was nice and a bit quiet from the din of the room. We read over the lovely menu and debated whether to go for go for the tasting menu. We decided that we would just order off of the menu as the tasting menus are always just too much food. Our waitress was friendly, helpful and informative with a nice relaxed style as we debated the various dishes.

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Perennial Virant, Chicago

A few weeks ago we met up with some friends for drinks and dinner. I was lucky enough to get a gift certificate to Perennial Virant from my colleagues in Chapel Hill as a going away gift so we decided to check it out. It is located in the Hotel Lincoln and we started the evening by meeting at the J. Parker, the rooftop bar. The space is neat and modern and the drink menu had some really nice options. The view of the city is fantastic but, next time we will certainly have to go back in the summer to properly enjoy the view on the vast outdoor patio.

After drinks, we headed downstairs to Perennial Virant. The space is warm and inviting, yet formal; as though you are in the formal dining room at someone’s home. Our reservation was early so the space was not full when we arrived. However, as the evening wore on, it filled up and was actually quite loud. I noticed that most of the tables were groups rather than couples.

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Pizzeria Neo, Naperville

Looking for a local, kid friendly, dinner out we decided we would try Pizzaria Neo. Located downtown Naperville and getting a lot of positive buzz we figured it would be good for an early dinner with the little guy. We got there early, at 5:15pm, on a Friday evening and were surprised to see how hip it was and wondered if it was appropriate to have a 14 month old there. We asked the hostess and she immediately said she would bring us a high chair. The d├ęcor and ambiance is like a lounge; dimly lit with low techno music in the background and the option to sit at couches, a bar with a wood fired oven, or tables. Since we were quite early we were given the option to sit anywhere. We opted for a table towards the back to stay away from the cold winter air.

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