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8 of the Best Restaurants to Eat in Lake Forest

8 of the Best Restaurants to Eat in Lake Forest

  |     |   Food and Drink


Lake Forest is a lovely little town in North Chicago, on the edge of Lake Michigan. It has a strong community, as you can see by the number of locally owned restaurants in the area. If you're looking for a place to dine out, you'll have plenty to choose from, whatever your budget and culinary preferences. Whether you like good old American bar food, authentic Mexican, Japanese sushi, or upscale bistro dining, there's sure to be an option you'll love. You'll also find plenty of vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. You can find something to please everyone in your dining party.

Chief's Pub

The firehouse-themed Chief's Pub offers an array of American-style pub food to satisfy any patron. The pub is kid-friendly during the day and full pub at night. The menu favorites include Reuben egg rolls, Wisconsin cheese curds that are beer-battered and deep-fried, Fire Shrimp and Fire Shrimp tacos that feature the pub's homemade Fire Sauce, Alarm Burgers (remember, it's firehouse-themed) and hot fudge lava cake. The kids' menu offers grilled cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, and more. If you're vegan, try the Beyond Burger or the popular kale salad with avocado, quinoa, and roasted veggies.

The Lantern

The Lantern has served the community of Lake Forest for over 75 years. It's a much-loved local brewpub that serves up good grub at reasonable prices. Its brick-lined outdoor seating area offers heating and shade umbrellas, so you can enjoy eating outside whatever the weather. The starters include french fries, sweet potato fries, white cheddar cheese curds, hummus with homemade pita chips, and fried goat cheese. Hearty menu items include shepherd's pie and chopped sirloin, while vegetarians can enjoy the Lantern's three-cheese macaroni and cheese. The Lantern offers a selection of burgers, including turkey, lamb, buffalo, and veggie varieties.


Billed as “Traditional Mexican with a modern twist,” Authentico offers the vision of its chef, Antonio, who was inspired by his childhood and has mixed in his creative reimagining of traditional Mexican meals. The restaurant uses hormone-free all-natural chicken and beef and also offer gluten-free and vegetarian options. You'll also find a selection of margaritas, sangrias, tequilas, and more. The food menu offers traditional market-style corn on the cob with mayonnaise, queso cotija, chili powder. You can get tacos with tortillas made to order from fresh corn masa, or try the salmon with roasted red bell pepper sauce and an ancho honey glaze.

Mexican food

Image via Flickr by nicolasnova

Sushi Kushi Toyo

Open since 1993, Sushi Kushi Toyo is popular with locals. Its stylish interior is within an attractive brick building, and it provides the community with traditional Japanese cuisine made by Japanese sushi chefs. Its long list of appetizers includes asparagus beef, crab rangoon, soft shell crab with ponzu sauce, and sauteed mushrooms with jalapeno. Sushi bar appetizers range from carpaccio to oyster with quail egg and scallions in ponzu sauce. For a sushi entree, you can try the nightly special of sushi and a hand roll, or pick your favorite fish from their extensive list. 

Oaken Bistro

Oaken Bistro is an upscale bistro and bar that offers beautifully presented meals in a charming setting with an outdoor patio. It serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and cocktails and has a kids' menu with corn cakes, chicken tenders, and gnocchi, to list a few. items. The breakfast menu includes blueberry cornmeal pancakes with candied lemon zest and whipped butter. For lunch, you can try a salad such as the baby kale, or perhaps the warm octopus salad will fulfill the more adventurous eaters. For a heartier lunch, try the smoked green circle chicken sandwich, or for dinner, try the Oaken Burger with gruyere cheese and wild mushrooms.

The English Room

If the location is as important as the meal, and both must be of the highest quality, then try the English Room. Part of the Deer Path Inn, this fine dining space includes a secluded garden patio with plenty of outdoor seating. The wine list has been honored on Wine Spectator's Most Outstanding Wine Lists in the World for 19 years in a row! The menu includes an English breakfast, or you can opt to start the day with an old-fashioned buttermilk pancake stack. For dinner, try the cottage pie or Alaskan halibut. Vegetarians might enjoy the Beyond Burger or beet and goat cheese salad.

The Gallery and The Peanut Gallery

The Gallery is an art gallery and fine dining restaurant, while its sister site, The Peanut Gallery, is casual, offering treats and ice cream. Menu items at The Gallery include black garlic deviled eggs with candied bacon and a toasted baguette, tagliatelle pasta with a veggie Bolognese, and the restaurant's specialty, "A Barn Ranch Wagyu Filet," with truffle butter, butternut squash, rapini, and veal demi. The Peanut Gallery's more casual fare includes a root beer float, build-your-own-burgers, Korean hot chicken, grilled cheese, hot dogs, and fries. For sweet treats, try the ice cream pints to go, such as Ultimate Oreo or Mackinac Island Fudge.

Gerhard's Desserts

Do you want all the sweet treats? Then stop what you're doing and head over to Gerhard's Desserts. Specializing in elegant European desserts, this place also makes wedding cakes and offer catering. It uses the best ingredients and never uses artificial coloring or preservatives. The menu changes with seasonal availability, but items to look for include exquisite cakes such as the tiramisu Charlotte and the raspberry mousse. Individual desserts include a chocolate truffle, key lime tartelette, and St. Honore. Expect beautiful handcrafted designs and gorgeous flavors not overpowered by too much sugar.

Has this list of restaurants in Lake Forest got your mouth watering? Are you itching to head out and try some sushi or chill at a brewpub with a comforting meal? Whatever meal you're craving, you'll find something to satisfy in this little town by the lake. Do you already have a favorite local restaurant we forgot to include? Don't be shy — we at Pasquesi Sheppard would love to hear from you, so reach out and tell us about the best meal you've had in Lake Forest.

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