In neighborhood parlance, “under the radar” is generally reserved for hipster haunts and up-and-coming urban enclaves. That is: short shrift for anything outside of the city. But peek west to Oak Park and you’ll find a community as buzzy as it is bucolic. Herewith, The Emerson outlines why it’s never been cooler to consider the suburb.
As if being the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway isn’t sufficiently boast-worthy (fun fact: June marks the centennial of Ernest’s graduation from River Forest High School), the neighborhood sports an equally titanic luminary in Frank Lloyd Wright, the pioneering architect whose work peppers Oak Park, from the iconic Unity Temple to the cluster of nearby works (including Wright’s home and studio) that attract reams of visitors for the eponymous trust’s annual housewalk.
With Chicago being recently cited as America’s best restaurant city, it’s small surprise that its suburbs flex some serious culinary muscle. For a killer marg (because it’s that time of year), Maya Del Sol’s your go-to, while Cucina Paradiso’s Italian bites are a year-round can’t-miss (pro tip: don't skip on the baked meatballs).
Whether it’s boutique or book seller, you can do major damage along Lake Street, one of the neighborhood’s main arteries: independent lit outpost The Book Table packs a selection of tomes robust enough to sate any bookworm, while nearby gem DTS’s enviably-stocked rotation of sneakers puts it on par with Chicago's finest streetwear stops.
Whether you’re looking to stretch your legs or simply loaf around, you’re at no shortage of options. From lush, quaint Scoville Park to the sprawling Oak Park Conservatory—with free admission, to boot—sylvan outlets lace the neighborhood, meaning you can always step from sidewalk to serious flora.
Anchored in the center of the neighborhood’s historic quarter is the The Emerson, a contemporary take on luxury apartment living. Think: airy interiors accented with en vogue accoutrements; smart, of-the-moment design; and an ample rooftop pool deck tailor-made for lazy mornings and active evenings—meaning either you or your Instagram (did we mention the views?) are about to get a serious workout.
The Emerson is now available for leasing. 1135 Westgate St.; http://www.livetheemerson.com/
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DON KALEC/COURTESY FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT TRUST (WRIGHT); COURTESY CUCINA PARADISO; DTS CHICAGO