In John Drury’s classic Dining in Chicago, published in 1931, this early food journalist records his impressions of many old Chicago area restaurants (remember Red Star? Ireland’s Oyster House?) that have now mostly closed or crumbled into history.
Drury also mentions three Oak Park dining establishments that seemed to be doing well in the Thirties despite the Great Depression. Perhaps, given the emphasis upon tea, Prohibition may actually have been good for these three village businesses:
WINDSOR TEA ROOM (717 South Boulevard, Oak Park, Ill.) Swinging around to Oak Park, that swanky suburb directly west of Chicago, we come to the Windsor, which has a good sized clientele among the diners-out of the village, said to be the largest village in the world. This place is open for luncheon, afternoon tea, and dinner, and the standard American dishes are found on the menu.
THE CHANTICLEER DINING ROOM (138 South Oak Park Ave, Oak Park, Ill.) Another smart eating establishment of the village, and well patronized, too. The pastries are notable, the waitresses alert, and the prices reasonable. There is another Chanticleer at 124 Wisconsin Avenue.
THE THREE SISTERS TEA ROOM (180 North Marion Avenue, Oak Park, Ill.) Over thirty years ago three sisters started a small eating establishment at Madison Street and Crawford Avenue, on the far west side of Chicago. Today, they still operate it and its fame is based solely on the excellent quality of the foods served. Now they have opened this tea room in Oak Park and are meeting with as much success as in the Chicago place. It is in an old residence and the scheme of decoration is early American. Chicken, roasts, and sea foods are the popular items on the menu. Sunday dinner is served from 12 noon to 4 P.M. Prices standard.
If you’re interested in downloading or reading Dining in Chicago for free online, you can access the whole book here (I’d recommend PDF format; that way, you can see the original pages, illustrations, etc.).
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