Cheap Eats in Oak Park: Jerusalem Cafe and Luo's Peking House

Forget the chains. Have a low-price, high-value lunch at small local places

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By David Hammond

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.

Reader Comments

6 Comments - Add Your Comment

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john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: October 8th, 2010 4:32 PM

I like all three choices. My preference in order are:Eastgate Cafe - great coffee and cookiesLuo's - Love it all but has best Egg Foo Yong in OPJerusaleum - Top Notch quick food

Dan Haley from Oak Park  

Posted: October 8th, 2010 9:34 AM

In the "What We're Reading" feature on our lead news page we've just posted a review of Eastgate Cafe. And rumor has it that David is going to write them up on OakPark.com in the very near future.Keep reading. Thanks.

ML Eneberg from Oak Park  

Posted: October 8th, 2010 8:51 AM

I think one of the more charming places to eat is Eastgate Cafe on Harrison St. in Oak Park. Can you review it!

ML Eneberg from Oak Park  

Posted: October 8th, 2010 8:35 AM

Your comments on Jerusalem Cafe and Luo's hit the mark perfectly. I'm not a fan of middle eastern food, but after visiting Israel twice, going to the Jerusalem Cafe with it's wonderful photos of the Old City, etc. brought back great memories. The food is fresh and filling. Luo's is an old favorite of mine--a great place to go for lunch when you really have to get back to the office in an hour. Thanks for your blog!

Bronwyn Soell from Countryside   

Posted: September 29th, 2010 1:54 PM

We LOVE Luo's! We've been eating there for years since before my son was born. Every time we get smiling service and great non-greasy Chinese food! They always remember us- it is the ultimate 'neighborhood' Chinese place.

val camilletti from oak park il  

Posted: September 29th, 2010 12:37 PM

See, that's the advantage to visiting vs. ordering in when it comes to eating. I never new about the "pickle" bar at Jerusulem -- but as far as speed, Luo's gets the food to you almost before you hang up the phone. OP history buffs might like to know that Luo's replaced a Chinese restaurant in the same location whose only ingredient I remember is celery - I never saw that much celery in my life At Luo's - best pot stickers in town

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