Recently named a Best Neighborhood to Eat in the Suburbs, Forest Park restaurants have everything it takes to tempt a wide range of tastes. Madison Street is at the heart of it all, with excellent restaurants stretching from Forest Park’s border with Oak Park at Harlem to its border with River Forest at Des Plaines Ave — and beyond. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a happy gathering with friends and neighbors, or are seeking some great takeout, Forest Park truly has it all.
Starting at its western edge near Des Plaines Avenue, let’s dine and drink our way east:
The friendly folks at Exit Strategy, located at 7700 Madison Street are here to help you escape. Its husband-and-wife owners started crafting beers at home in 2012 and have turned the many awards and accolades they’ve received along the way onto this bustling brewery. There’s a whole menu of beers, with favorites on tap, along with what they call their “lab beers,” ciders, wines and even cocktails. Follow their socials and be on the lookout for their rotating food menu! You'll find specials like juicy burgers, warm pretzels and many more mouth-watering favorites. This crew stops at nothing to bring you perfectly paired suds and grub.
Starship, at 7618 Madison Street, boldly goes where no sub shop has gone before. Since the late ‘70s, Starship has served subs and more than 150 varieties of soup, ranging from favorites chicken noodle and split pea to original recipes like pepperoni pizza and Oktoberfest. The signature sub is decked out on a sesame seed bun with ham, turkey, bologna, two kinds of cheese, and topped with fresh veggies. There are hot subs, cold subs, even breakfast subs. Salads do not come in sub form, but you can order Garden, Caesar, Greek — you name it. Starship is an easy answer to what you’re hungry for in Forest Park.
Madison Park Kitchen at 7525 Madison St is a carefree feasting experience every day a week. Enjoy traditional breakfast, brunch and lunch menus with a new spin on signature dishes like the baked apple pancake, frittatas, crepes, pancakes, exceptional waffles and fresh omelettes. Lunch includes homemade daily soups, beef burgers, specialty wraps, paninis, sandwiches and hearty salads. And look for seasonal specialties whenever you stop in!
For sandwiches, a killer mac and cheese as featured on Chicago’s Best, and stuffed burgers, just head to Scratch Kitchen & Lounge at 7445 West Madison. Take a seat at the bar with the locals, or settle into a table for a meal from a created-from-scratch menu. The owner, a Forest Park resident, has a culinary arts degree more than 25 years in the food service industry. He uses only fresh ingredients to bring you his creations. Plus there’s live music on the weekends.
For a taste of Venice, navigate to Caffe de Luca at 7427 Madison Street. You’ll be delighted by its old world style outdoor dining. Delicious seafood, steak and pasta specials overflow its menu. And it’s all great food! Start with the Chopped CDL salad with its blend of Fontinella cheese, avocado, roasted red pepper, prosciutto bits and tender grilled chicken on crisp Romaine. Sample one of the many martinis or a hand-crafted cocktail. From spring through late fall, weather permitting, the downstairs doors open to the sidewalk for outdoor seating. Italian lamps and ceiling fans above a serpentine bar lend a festive flair. A staircase with wrought iron rails leads to a second floor, with terrace seating, a large skylight, and an indoor-outdoor fireplace. It’s a hot place to host a private party or event.
Louie’s Grill at 7422 Madison is a classic diner and longtime neighborhood throwback with an old-timey vibe. This family owned restaurant has been serving up American classics for breakfast and lunch since 1999. Enjoy everything from classic egg dishes, to pancakes and grits at Louie’s.
Jimmy's Place at 7411 Madison has all the menu items of a great Italian restaurant, from antipasti, to pizzas and pasta. Kick off your meal (or enjoy your happy hour) with fried calamari, spicy shrimp saragusa or stuffed artichoke. Then choose from a long list of classic Italian dishes, from chicken Vesuvio to pork chop Italiano. Whatever you have in mind, there’s a delicious answer for it at Jimmy’s Place.
There are a ton of kid-friendly experiences in Forest Park, but Junction Diner at 7401 Madison Street takes it a level higher. This restaurant is also fun for adults! There’s a large interactive model train table for the kids to play with while they patiently wait for their food. Select off the Lil Conductor’s Menu for the young ones in the group, they’ll love the mini burgers and kiddie pancakes. There are steam engine salads and junction wraps, boxcar burgers, station specialties and sandwich express options. There is also an assortment of beers and wines for all those who aren’t driving the train home.
Shanahan's at 7353 Madison is truly a taste of New Orleans in the heart of Forest Park. In addition to a full bar, it offers Creole specialities and monthly Cajun specials. Enjoy everything from jambalaya to crawfish etouffee, as well as everyday crowd-pleasers like soups (including gumbo, of course) burgers, sandwiches and po’ boys. Special weekend brunches feature offerings like shrimp and grits or voodoo crab and grits.
Fatduck Tavern and Grill is already the stuff of culinary legend at 7218 Madison Street. It serves classic pub food with a twist. Everyone comes for the famous duck-fat fries, which are heavy on taste. Duck fat is nutritionally similar to olive oil — all natural, low in saturated fat, with no added preservatives. And the roasted garlic aioli, Mexican pesto and sriracha mayo dipping sauces are sublime. In addition to a wide range of beer and cocktails, you’ll find salads, sandiches, burgers, pizzas and sliders.
Don’t forget dessert at the Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor at 7347 Madison. This community hot spot is a cool blend of a soda fountain, a bakery, and a creamery that makes its own ice cream in-store. There are sweet treats for every occasion, whether you enjoy them on site or order their custom ice cream cakes and fresh-baked five-layer cakes online.
And be sure to find these restaurants in other parts of Forest Park, IL 60130:
When it comes to beef, you can’t forget about the Golden Steer at 7635 West Roosevelt Road. What can you expect from a steakhouse that serves you classic French Onion soup and generous sized steaks? A meal to remember. The Golden Steer has earned the praise of Forest Park Review and the Chicago Tribune as well as the TV show Check Please. It’s been a classic steak joint destination since 1969.
If you want to find a burger and bar scene where everybody knows your name, head to Goldyburgers at 7316 Circle Avenue. It’s been in business nearly a century (est. 1926!) and the burgers are legendary. Try the cheddar cheese balls as a starter, either inside or outside on the enclosed patio. For a pint to watch the game or wash away the day, you’ll find the comfort you crave at Goldyburgers.
Plus fast food, including Subway and Jimmy Johns and Starbucks
So you can see, when they say Forest Park, Illinois, offers some of the best places to dine in the suburbs, believe them!