We asked three Chicagoland influencers to map out morning-to-night itineraries in the neighborhoods they call home: Evanston, the West Loop, and Hinsdale. Here, Paul Virant, chef/owner of Vistro in Hinsdale and Vie in nearby Western Springs, shares his Hinsdale hit list.
Paul’s Perfect Day
Grab a coffee at Cafe La Fortuna. The owner is a third-generation coffee grower, exporter, and roaster, and all his beans come from the same plantation in Chiapas that his grandfather started in 1908. Then head to Toni Patisserie & Cafe for a pastry — it doesn’t get much better than the almond croissant — then cross the tracks to Burlington Park to sit by the fountain and take in the scenery.
Or, if you’re in the mood for a full breakfast, head to Page’s. Lately, I’ve been doing the ham & cheese omelet with hot giardiniera or the corned beef hash with some over easy eggs. And I always get the hash browns — they’re some of the best around.
When you’re ready to work off breakfast, head for Fullersburg Woods in nearby Oak Brook to hike the nature trails that run alongside Salt Creek. Kids will love the nature center, and history buffs shouldn’t miss Graue Mill and Museum, once a stop on the Underground Railroad.
After all that exercise, pop into York Tavern (also in Oak Brook) for a cheeseburger and a cold one. York is the oldest bar and restaurant in DuPage County and was a Pony Express stop in the 1800s. It’s also where Coach Q comes after a home Hawks game.
Now back to Hinsdale for some shopping. This town has a ton of cool boutiques — my wife loves Stockholm Objects and Alixandra, and Sweet William is my go-to store for special gifts — they have beautiful, timeless couture and a really well-curated shoe selection.
When you’re ready for a cocktail and some oysters, make your way to Vistro. My old standby is the G&T, but we have some great frozen cocktails dispensed from our frosé machine.
Stay for dinner, or grab sushi at Nabuki — it’s the best in town.
Paul Virant is the chef and owner of Vie, his flagship restaurant in Western Springs, which earned a Michelin star in 2011, and Vistro, in Hinsdale. Virant’s accolades include 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2011 finalist nominations for the James Beard Foundation Award’s Best Chef: Great Lakes; 2007 Best New Chef by Food & Wine; 2007 Jean Banchet Award for Culinary Excellence as Top Celebrity Chef; and 2005 Best New Chef by Chicago magazine. He also has competed on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” Most recently, in 2017, Virant launched Jar Sessions, a locally produced, small-batch line of pickled and preserved products, collaborating with Midwest farmers to create the Jar Sessions collection of farm-to-fork products.