Park Ridge Insider Liz O’Malley on Poke Burrito bowls, biking into Chicago, accessories at Sooo Cute Boutique and family weekends back in Madison
What you do for a living: I’ve been a high school teacher for 17 years, and I recently launched a monthly wine club in Park Ridge, The List Wine Club, with my sister-in-law, who is a certified sommelier. We’re excited to celebrate our first anniversary this spring!
How long you’ve lived here: 17 years…15 in our current house. And, wow, has Park Ridge changed in those years. It’s so awesome to think about how much progress this town has made.
What you like best about Park Ridge: The people and the small-town feel. I love that I can go anywhere and run into a few people I know!
There are also so many active social groups in Park Ridge, so it’s easy to get involved in so many different ways. I joined the Park Ridge Newcomers Club and met so many great friends; I would definitely recommend it for any ladies in PR.
Best meal you’ve had recently: We love to get the fish and chips family meal from Harp and Fiddle. It has been our go-to takeout that the whole family loves. The meal includes fried cod, French fries and a fantastic salad. (I recommend the house dressing — it’s amazing.)
Favorite restaurant in the area: Bangkok Belly in Norwood Park! We are definitely a “takeout family” because then I can pair my wines with the meals we order. The List Wine Club offered a great dry riesling that paired really well with Bangkok Belly’s pad Thai. Also, my kids love their sushi and Thai fried rice — it’s their go-to when they get to pick our takeout restaurant.
Favorite “hidden gem” restaurant: We discovered Poke Burrito in Park Ridge during our year of e-learning. My husband Mike and I would order custom poke bowls for a quick to-go lunch, and my three boys love their shrimp tempura rolls.
Best bar to grab a drink or to watch the game: Definitely Holt’s. This is the place where I feel comfortable standing around or mingling and not stuck in a seat. They have large tables for moving around, lots of TVs, and their drinks are fabulous.
We love to grab something to grill from Devon Avenue Meats that will pair well with The List Wine Club wines. … We recommend the marinated chicken breast, sushi-grade tuna or any of their steak cuts.
A great night out with friends usually includes… a few drinks at Holt’s or Pennyville Station (and maybe a few late-night pranks on our friends who didn’t join us).
The best way to spend a Saturday in the spring: We love to grab something to grill from Devon Avenue Meats that will pair well with The List Wine Club wines and have neighborhood friends join us. We recommend the marinated chicken breast, sushi-grade tuna or any of their steak cuts.
What’s something you look forward to every spring?
Mike and I like to take a day while the kids are in school and bike into the city. Both Elston and Milwaukee have bike lanes, making the biking much more safe and comfortable, and it’s so close from Park Ridge. We usually plan a great lunch spot and then stop for a beverage on the way home, putting in around 30 miles for the day.
Last year we biked to District Brew Yards for lunch and a beer, and then we stopped for a drink and snack at Big Star in Wicker Park on our way back to Park Ridge.
Favorite local store or best shopping area: Obviously Prospect Avenue in Uptown has fabulous shopping. I do a lot of my shopping for Christmas gifts and friends’ birthdays there because of the numerous options. And I love to shop for accessories at Sooo Cute Boutique.
But I also think South Park is a bit underrated. The “Beauty Block,” with Renata’s Organic Skincare & Spa and Ash and Willow Salon, has a lot to offer. I know I can pop into either of those locations for a last-minute gift or treat for myself!
There are also so many active social groups in Park Ridge, so it’s easy to get involved in so many different ways. I joined the Park Ridge Newcomers Club and met so many great friends. I would definitely recommend it for any ladies in PR.
Secret spot: The Des Plaines River Trail. If you take it south over the expressway, there’s a right turn that will lead to Rosemont. It is definitely a hike, but it’s a great way to get outside, and you can take a break in the “Park” at Rosemont.
Underrated activity in the area: Checking out all the boutique fitness classes in Park Ridge. My sister-in-law and I have been booking a class at a different studio each weekend — on a mission to try out all our PR options. We loved the hot yoga at Uptown Hustle and Flow.
Weekend getaway spot: I’m totally biased, of course, but I’d have to say Madison, where Mike and I met when we were in college. The Edgewater Hotel on Lake Mendota is the perfect place to stay to take advantage of campus activities like basketball, hockey or football games, and it’s also close to excellent restaurants like The Old Fashioned and others around Capitol Square. We like to take our kids to some of our old favorites, like Ian’s Pizza, so we can brainwash them to be Badgers as well!
What have you heard great things about but have yet to try?
I’ve had S&T (formerly Sweet & Tart) takeout, but I haven’t been there for brunch yet. My boys have me super-booked on weekend mornings with all their sports, but I’m planning to check out the S&T brunch and mimosas soon. Can’t wait!