2022 was a downright delicious year inside our Oak Park Eats communities – I enjoyed a massive number of delicious things in our little foodie alcove. We welcomed newcomers like Fritzi’s Delicatessen and Betty’s Pizza and bid farewell to Small Batch Barbecue, Eastgate Café and Kalamata Kitchen. We watched food-focused events draw crowds once again and witnessed restaurants redefining themselves in the face of post-pandemic norms. As hard as it was, I picked 16 of my very favorite local sips and nibbles from the past year. Enjoy this delicious look back at some of 2022’s best bites!
1. Delicate Dumplings from Na Siam, Oak Park: An ownership transition at Na Siam, 6851 W. North Ave., inspired a visit to this North Avenue District spot. They still have a notable way with Pho, but their shumai style meat and seafood dumplings are full of flavor.
2. Branzino al Fresco at Amerikas, Oak Park: When Chef Armando Gonzalez presented branzino during a summer dinner at Amerikas, 734 Lake St., I knew we were in for a treat. The whole roasted fish, with crispy soy-glazed skin, was as visually arresting as it was delicious.
3. Shrimp from Big Shrimpin’, Chicago: Prentiss Harris is churning out some seriously good fried shrimp at Big Shrimpin’, 5963 W. Madison St. These hand battered morsels are fried up to a crispy golden brown and served piping hot with mild sauce. And get ready – Harris is the same person who is bringing Chubby’s Hot Chicken to Forest Park.
4. Cake for a crowd made by Turano Baking Co. Berwyn: GCM threw a nationally recognized birthday party/memorial for Betty White last January. It was a freezing day, but the crowd of people gathered in front of the Lake Theater was warm and welcoming. Our friends at Turano Baking Company, 6501 Roosevelt Rd., served up cake to hundreds of people to mark the uniquely Oak Park occasion.
5. Anniversary Samosas at Khyber Pass, Oak Park: The pandemic capsized Malik Jawid’s 25th anniversary celebration plans, but he treated Khyber Pass’s 27th anniversary like the milestone he missed. We dined on samosas while Jawid shared his pathway to owning the restaurant that has become synonymous with Indian and Pakistani fare in Oak Park at 1031 Lake St.
6. Blackened whitefish taco from Taco Mucho, Oak Park: There is much to love about Taco Mucho in the Oak Park Arts District. This small and mighty taqueria, 220 Harrison Street, is serving a blackened whitefish taco on a handmade tortilla that is beyond good.
7. Pasta tossed with Capuliato at the Carnivore/Anfora Etna Wine Dinner, Oak Park: This one-time-only event was a celebration of big bold wines from the mountains of Italy. The meal, designed by Chef Brad Knaub, was intended to let the wines shine – he succeeded; the pairings were perfect, but this bowl of pasta tossed with a traditional Sicilian condiment based on dried tomatoes was more than memorable.
8. Chili crisp biscuit from Broken Tart, Oak Park: Run to get your hands on this one-of-a-kind biscuit from Broken Tart, 1108 Chicago Ave. Everything at the bakery is divine, but this rare combination of artisan chili crisp and cheese on a buttery biscuit is other-worldly.
9. Cocktails at Kettlestrings Grove, Oak Park: We love all the drinks at the newest cocktail bar in Oak Park, 105 S. Marion St., but we clamor for the Euclid Treasure made with Soul Cachaca and Pistachio Orgeat.
10. A Reuben from Fritzi’s Delicatessen, Oak Park: People were giddy with anticipation for the opening of Fritzi’s, 113 N. Oak Park Ave. and their Reuben, crafted with house-made corned beef, is a sandwich that was totally worth the wait.
11. An assortment of sushi from Oakami, Chicago: Tom Uiprapassorn, chef and co-owner of Okami Sushi, 6818 W. North Ave., Chicago, combines his love for Japanese anime and architectural sushi at his restaurant nestled in the North Avenue District. We like to let the chef pick for us!
12. All the gummy candies at Candycopia, Oak Park: This sweet shop, 717 Lake St., opened in 2022 and their mix-and-match gummy candy, sold by the pound from apothecary jars, can bring out the kid in just about anyone.
13. A Taste the Town Bite: Takeout 25 turned two this year and when they throw a party no one leaves hungry. Their first in-person fundraiser to support local restaurants was no exception — multiple eateries put up delicious dishes and this surf and turf cup from the chefs at Babygold was unforgettable!
14. GCM jars, Private residence, Oak Park: Growing Community Media hosted a donor event in 2022 where we gifted cherry filled cheesecake jars to our guests. They were darn delicious!
15. A double smash burger from Circle Tavern, Elmwood Park: Served tavern style, this unassuming burger ticks all the boxes when it comes to griddled indulgence. Don’t underestimate this offering – Circle Tavern, 18 Conti Pkwy, burgers are among the best around.
16. Juneteenth BBQ fare by Robinson’s Ribs in Taylor Park, Oak Park: A community centered Juneteenth celebration drew crowds to Taylor Park on a gorgeous afternoon. The smell of barbecue carried the promise of delicious things and Robinson’s delivered a perfect picnic vibe on a meaningful day. Robinson’s is located at 848 Madison St.