George’s in Oak Park is the grilled cheese of restaurants: It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s very fast. And when you’re really hungry, it’s kind of perfect. Am I saying the food is the best thing I’ve ever had? No. Do I think it the most inventive, most flavorful? Well, no. But it makes up for what it lacks with a few things done very, very well: Where else can you find a sit-down restaurant that lets you escape having spent less than $10 and feeling full, probably after under 30 minutes, all told, inside—unless you want to stay longer, of course, which would also be fine?
My brother and I wandered into George’s recently on a Saturday afternoon, waiting for my friend’s resale shop to open, not because we’d heard anything about it but because we drove by and it looked nice. Inside, this is classic family diner in all its glory: simple decor, not much in the way of ambiance. From where we sat in our plastic-type booth, I had a clear view to the kitchen, where I could see handwritten orders being stuck to the wall in front of the short-order cooks.
Adam, who, incidentally, is celebrating his golden birthday today (Happy birthday, Little Brother!), ordered eggs, bacon and toast, feeling like breakfast. He was very pleased. I ordered a plain hamburger, which, while good, didn’t differ much from the burgers I could get a fast-food places. Maybe that’s fair, though? At $4.50 for a burger at $5-something for his breakfast, we paid about what we would at McDonald’s these days (in fact, I think I spent $6-something on a McFlurry and chicken selects when in Wisconsin).
The other thing about George’s is its Greek roots, with souvlaki and a few other things included on the large menu. The man who I’d presume to be owner wanders around, observing all the goings-on, and he checks you out when you leave. From the looks of things, there might be a lot of family working there, in fact, and that’s something I kind of love about smaller restaurants. It reminds me of how most businesses begin, of dreams for one’s livelihood, of pulling together in one common goal as a family.
George’s Family Restaurant
145 S Oak Park Avenue
(between Pleasant St & South Blvd)
Oak Park, IL 60302