It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. However, in the case of Hinsdale chefs and restaurant owners, the necessity that came from a global pandemic shutdown was the mother of innovation.
“This past year has been notably difficult for the restaurant industry,” explains Hinsdale Village Manager Kathleen Gargano. “Since the onset of the pandemic, the Village has collaborated with the Chamber of Commerce and the restaurant community to find innovative solutions. This included facilitating changes to parking to allow greater ease for patrons to utilize carry-out options and expanding the outdoor dining areas. It was also through the frequent and open dialogue with the restaurant community that the Village Board approved outdoor dining in tents set up on various streets to help our restaurants survive.”
Not only did most restaurant owners in Hinsdale find ways to stay open, but many of them reinvented how they do business in ways that are likely to impact the local culinary scene for years to come.
That ingenuity and resilience will be celebrated this month as Hinsdale Restaurant Week returns for the third year in a row. From May 14 to 23, Hinsdale restaurants will be offering chef-curated meals and some of the inventive dishes that helped launch the Village as a foodie mecca. Known for its historic downtown district and charming one-of-a-kind retail stores, Gargano says the restaurant scene has quietly turned into a thriving culinary destination.
“It started slowly 10 years ago, and then over the last four to five years, it’s really grown,” she says. “Residents welcomed all of our new restaurants, and the word spread to the western suburbs and Chicago that we had all of these fantastic dining options.”
Experienced restaurateurs with high profile chefs recognized the opportunity and opened in Hinsdale, enhancing an already diverse offering of cuisine options that include everything from Italian, sushi, bistro, and American to Asian and Mexican. Hinsdale even has a gluten-free bakery.
Dan Grisko, who is coordinating Hinsdale Restaurant Week activities for the Village, says participating restaurants will feature value priced and prix fixe brunch, lunch, and dinner menus. New this year is a special emphasis on delivery and take-out specials.
“Restaurants have had to get creative with their take-out options, and many restaurants will feature specials for take-out and delivery in addition to their in-dining specials for this event,” he says, adding: “Tents were erected over the summer on First Street and Washington Street in Hinsdale to accommodate increased outdoor dining capacity. The al fresco options have been warmly welcomed by area diners.”
As expected, participating restaurants will be practicing heightened safety precautions—including masks, hand sanitizer, socially distanced tables, capacity restrictions, and touchless curbside pickup options.
“The restaurant industry as a whole had no choice but to adopt stricter safety standards than most businesses. Our restaurants recognize the importance of providing a safe dining experience for their guests,” says Gargano. “They have the systems down to a science. Restaurant Week in Hinsdale will be a safe, enjoyable experience for all.”
Hinsdale Restaurant Week is a non-ticketed event and special menu options vary by restaurant. Reservations are highly recommended for those who wish to dine on site (be sure to mention “Restaurant Week” when booking your table).
In addition to being a “splendid opportunity to rediscover a long-time favorite or experience one of Hinsdale’s hot new eateries,” Gargano says the exposure to surrounding areas helps all area businesses and boosts the local economy.
Grisko says he is excited about this year’s Hinsdale Restaurant Week because it represents the strength and resiliency of our dining scene.
“The support of the Hinsdale restaurant community by Hinsdale residents and surrounding communities remains overwhelmingly positive. There have been some changes over the last year, but not necessarily caused by the pandemic,” he explains. “Virant just launched a new neighborhood steak house concept called Vistro Prime. Nabuki is currently remodeling, and Giuliano’s just remodeled their dining room. So, there is a lot of excitement in the Hinsdale dining scene.”
Whether you opt for touchless take-out, a tented table outside, or one of the increasingly available indoor options, Grisko and Gargano agree that this month’s event signals a sense of normalcy and an opportunity to support an industry hardest hit by the pandemic.
For a full list of participating restaurants and specials, visit hinsdaledining.com.
HINSDALE RESTAURANT WEEK
With 10 days to taste your way through the Village, there are options for every palate and budget. We put together a list of the Hinsdale restaurants who are participating in the May 14 to 23 event, so far, but be sure to check hinsdaledining.com for new additions.
9 W. First Street
114 S. Washington Street
Café La Fortuna
46 Village Place
40 Village Place
Hua Ting Restaurant
777 N. York Road
Il Poggiolo Ristorante & Bar
8 E. First Street
777 N. York Road
18 E. First Street
26-1/2 E. Hinsdale Avenue
Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery
13 W. First Street
Toni Patisserie & Café
51 S Washington Street
112 S. Washington Street
Wild Ginger Asian Cuisine
44 S. Washington Street
13 Grant Square