Oak Park's Thursday Night Out

This summer marks my 9-year Chicago-versary!  Whenever I tell someone that I’m originally from Florida, the response is almost always that I’m crazy to have moved to the North.  I always respectfully disagree.  While it’s true that Chicago’s winters are way longer and colder than I’d like them to be… Summers here are simply MAGICAL.

From block parties to street festivals to movies in the park, Chicago truly comes alive in the summer, and every neighborhood has it’s own unique way of celebrating the season.

Oak Park, which is technically a separate village but feels to me like another Chicago neighborhood, has an especially fun way of celebrating the season – Every. Thursday. Night.

Oak Park’s Thursday Night Out


While the Taste of Chicago is an iconic city event, personally, I never go – mainly because the crowds are unbearable.

Taste of Chicago 2009 (via Wikipedia)


Consider instead (or in addition…) getting a Taste of Oak Park in a mellow, family friendly atmosphere via Downtown Oak Park’s “Thursday Night Out” series every Thursday through August 28 from 5pm–9pm.

The Thursday Night Out series takes place on Oak Park’s Marion Street, easily accessible by both the Green Line El trains (get off at Harlem) and the Oak Park Metra stop.

To participate in Thursday Night Out, all you need to do is purchase a coupon book for $12 which contains 4 coupons good for sizeable tastes at a long list of participating restaurants.  (Tip: If you just want a snack or dessert, consider sharing a coupon book with someone else!)

As a bonus, for every 2 coupon books purchased, you’ll also receive a $5 voucher that can be used any Thursday Night Out at the neighboring shops.  Mike and I saved up a few, and cashed them in at The Book Table, getting a brand new book for just $0.70.

Mike and I have already been to Thursday Night out a few times this summer, including once with these goofballs:

My Mom, Sister & Two nieces visiting from Florida


Me & my littlest niece, in front of The Competitive Foot which is now closing after 40 years as the owners retire.


Here are some of my favorite tastes so far this year:

Vegan Summer Salad from Munch

  • The Falafel & French Fry Cone (vegan) from Falafill

Falafel & Fry Cone at Falafill

  • Sweets from Sugar Fixe Patisserie.  Mike and I especially loved the Verrine of Lemon Poundcake & Lemon Mousse with Blueberries.  We also enjoyed their fun cupcake creations including a Coconut Cupcake with Passionfruit Filling and Strawberry Buttercream and a Chocolate Strawberry cupcake. 

Sweet Treats from Sugar Fixe

  • The Veggie Patacon sandwich (with a Fried Green Plantain exterior) from Aripo’s Venezualen Restaurant.  They always have a bit of a wait there, but plenty of air-conditioned seating for while you wait!

Veggie Patacon (Fried Green Plantain) Sandwich from Aripo’s

Veggie Burrito Junior from Boss Burrito 

  • And my niece Charlotte’s favorite – the gelato from Mancini’s.

Gelato from Mancini’s

Thursday Night Out made for the perfect family outing, with something for everyone’s tastes, live music, great people-watching, and taking advantage of the Chicago area’s short but magical Summer season.

I plan to go a couple more times this summer – there are still several dishes I want to try (Spring Rolls! Tabouleh! and a Spinach Citrus Salad!), plus the tasting menu also changes slightly each month.

I’d love to hear from you!

What is your favorite way to celebrate summer?

Have you ever been to a “Taste Of…” event?