Jerusalem Café (1030 Lake) is one of my favorite places to stop for a fast, reasonably priced meal. For under five bucks, you can get soup (usually lentil), a falafel sandwich and a trip to the “pickle bar.” What really sold me on Jerusalem Café was the panoply of pickled turnips, peppers and cucumbers laid out, along with some fried pita chips and hot sauce, in an all-you-can eat set-up. When you compare the price and quality of this food with what you’d find at many of the chains, the dining experience at Jerusalem Café clearly comes out ahead.
My fellow blogger Val, when she still had her “halla” on South Blvd., turned me on to Luo’s. I was in there one day when lunch was delivered, and she told me it was a favorite place for her and her staff. I was dubious, but that doubt was unfounded. Luo’s Peking House (113 N. Marion) is the kind of Chinese restaurant that shaped the perceptions many Americans have of Chinese food. You may have a hard time finding Egg Foo Young and other Americanized creations in Beijing, but these “fusion” foods that blend Chinese ingredients with American tastes make up much of Luo’s menu. For under $10, you can get soup, entrée, pot of tea…and cookies (Almond and fortune). The speed with which the food emerges from the kitchen is remarkable – I never timed it to the second, but I’m guessing you can get from ordering to eating in under five minutes. Will it be the best Chinese you’ve ever had? Probably not…but like the sign says, it’s the best in Oak Park.
I doubt Jerusalem Café or Luo’s Peking House will make any food critic’s 10 best lists. Still, both places offer excellent deals on better-than-average food and I always look forward to walking through their doors.
Got a favorite cheap eating place in Oak Park or neighboring suburbs? Please share.