No one wants sit through a concert—no matter how special—on an empty stomach.
The bright side? You don’t have to! Whether you’re looking for a low maintenance solution like eating at one of Ravinia Park’s restaurants, stopping for a bite nearby or maybe making the time and effort to put together a picnic, we’ve got some great suggestions for you.
Ravinia Festival Options
Feeling kind of fancy? You’ll want to book a table at the Park View Restaurant, located on the second floor of Ravinia’s Dining Pavilion. The food is “Contemporary American” and might include Shrimp and Ricotta Arancini di Riso ($9) with preserved lemon; Goat Cheese Gnocchi ($22) topped with a mushroom ragout; Char-Grilled Ribeye ($34) accompanied by roasted garlic-white bean puree. Top it all off with a Market Fruit Cobbler ($8) with maple streusel or a S’Mores Crème Brulée.
Buffet-style doesn’t mean a loss of quality at Mirabelle, found on the Pavilion’s first floor. Different food stations—From the Land, To the Sea, and Farm to Fork—provide plenty of fresh options loaded with farmer’s market favorites. Appease your sugar cravings at the Sweet Endings table.
I was impressed last summer with the Ravinia Market, a bustling mini food court. Hungry concertgoers lined up at Sizzle (noodles, fried rice, and curry); Amber Grill (burgers, dogs, fries, chicken); Pie (brick-oven pizzas and calzones); Sandwich & Salad Stop and the Sweet Stop. Beer, wines and other beverages are available on your way to the cashier.
A cheater’s picnic can be arranged ahead of time for pick up at the North End of the Ravinia gatehouse. Go online to ravinia.org and check out your options from the Picnic Box. And of course, Ravinia Catering is more than happy to arrange your on-site event, whether it be drinks and snacks or a full-blown dinner for 40.
Grabbing a Bite Nearby in Highland Park
Chef-owner Michael Paulsen continues to send out calorie-worthy food in this small, intimate space. Reservations are a must on Ravinia nights and weekends; they open at 5 p.m. for dinner service.
Real Urban BBQ
Not a place to linger, but a great place to stop for a quick and delicious, smoky BBQ sauce-filled bite. Eat in or grab your food to go. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. every day but Sundays, when the hours are 3-9 p.m.
Sushi Kushi Too
An impressive sake selection, quick service, and super-fresh sushi make this a Highland Park favorite. Dinner service starts at 5 p.m. Monday – Saturday, Sunday at 4:30.
Pick Up and Bring a Picnic
Wilmette – A La Carte: Whether you’re in need of individual box lunches, party platters or stuffed picnic baskets, A La Carte has got you covered. Call ahead for best selection (or large orders).
Glenview – Burhop’s Seafood is making fabulous, fresh Lobster Rolls; paired with Burhop’s cole slaw, Key Lime tarts and a bottle of bubbly, you’ve got summer in a basket (bring your own… they’ll fill it for you)! Add a blanket and you’re good to go.
Lake Bluff – WISMA: Pre-order online or salivate directly in the store because this food is yummy. Sandwiches filled with organic, locally sourced ingredients; cheese and charcuterie options with fresh artisan breads; substantial salads and outrageous desserts are all available, not to mention local brews, wines and other potables.