Forest Park's main drag, Madison Street, pictured in the 1940s when a hearty meal could be consumed at many restaurants and saloons.Photos courtesy Historical Society of Forest Park

Madison Street has always been a place to get a good meal. In the 1880s, post-cemetery, mourners came to Madison Street for funeral luncheons. In the 1930s, post-Prohibition, celebrants from the “dry” neighboring villages of Oak Park and River Forest frequented saloon kitchens.

The Historical Society of Forest Park is spotlighting that gustatory history with its first-ever 21st-century “Dining along Madison Street” restaurant crawl on Sunday, Sept. 8.

Forest Park has a long history of renowned restaurants, among them La Strada, Homer’s, Schmitt’s Bakery, The Armory, Richard’s Tavern, Otto’s, Christina’s, Jerome’s, Gianotti’s, Olde Town West and Caesar’s.

“Incorporated in 1907, Forest Park already had a colorful history of drinking and eating establishments that pre-dates to the 1870s,” said Diane Hansen Grah, director of the historical society.

In the storefronts on Madison Street, diners will sample snacks, appetizers and desserts from Brown Cow Ice Cream, Jimmy’s Place, the Junction Diner, Shanahan’s/La Maison de Bon Bon, and Skrine Chops.

“Each location on our crawl has its own story to tell,” Hansen Grah said. The Historical Society and participating restaurants will display photos and history of the restaurant, including location, past owners, and specialties.

The crawl will be held rain or shine from 1 to 4 p.m. The cost is $20 for historical society members/$25 for non-members. Children receive a $5 discount. Advance tickets are being accepted through Friday, Sept. 6 by calling 708-232-3747 or by e-mailing

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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