Some days, the craziness of parenthood clearly call for pizza (thanks be to the Gods of delivery). But most of the time I find myself craving quality when it comes to quick and easy dinner options. By recommendation, curiosity or sheer luck, I’ve stumbled into some North Shore gourmet markets that are ideal for translating a restaurant quality meal from your grocery bag to your dinner table with absolute ease.
1515 Sheridan Rd #5, Wilmette, IL 60091
Ah, the mecca for comfort foods. Think warm baguettes, bottles of olive oil, assorted cheeses and a delightfully curated wine selection. Convito’s ready-made counter offers the full gamut of Italian dishes from cannelloni, lasagna, grilled fish, salads, vegetables and stews. Our family favorites include the farro salad and plenty of meatballs. I recommend picking up a bottle of Frantoia Extra Virgin olive oil, and seek out the tiny freezer for incredible small batch ice creams and gelatos. Their candy counter near the register means that my son can busy himself choosing an Italian lollipop while I can take five minutes to plan a menu.
338 Park Ave., Glencoe, IL 60022
The picturesque display windows at FoodStuffs are straight out of a Hollywood film. Baskets of fresh croissants, vintage Ravinia posters and hanging copper pots provide over-the-top charm. Dive right into the seasonal treats, cheese counter, baked goods, seafood displays, soup bar and fresh made salads/sandwiches. I lose my mind over their assorted cakes and macarons, and we often leave with mint double chocolate malt balls or a pint of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. My go-to takeout is almost always a Dianna’s Salad and butternut squash soup.
Pro tip: Keep your eyes peeled for the mini lobster rolls at the ready-made counter. They are absolute heaven and bring a delicious taste of the east coast to the north shore.
925 Green Bay Rd, Winnetka, IL
Mrs. Greens is like Whole Foods plus an organic farm plus a fruit stand all rolled into one. Vegans and health-conscious folks will feel right at home as this spot packs a lot of options in a small footprint store. For the busy family, stick with their dine-and-dash bags of pre-made dinners. My husband picked one up for pulled pork sandwiches on pretzel rolls, mixed greens salad and a side of mac-and-cheese. I’m fond of their mango salsa, large tubs of organic spinach, salmon filets and vegan desserts like whoopie pies or cookies. You won’t recognize a lot of brand names here but the ingredients of your meal will be from a plethora of responsibly-sourced vendors.
300 Skokie Valley Road, Highland Park, IL
Located right off the highway exit, Anton’s is a cheerful surprise. Their pride and joy is fresh produce and the store is rainbow of delectable options. Great care is taken with all gourmet options from the made-from-scratch baked goods to their huge deli under a red canopy. Their best secret is Ravinia-to-go which gives diners a 3 or 4-compartment meal featuring sandwich, pasta salad or fruit salad, cookie and chocolate square. Call ahead to make arrangements and then pick up your meal en route to your concert. The florals here are also downright dreamy, so grab a bouquet to enhance the spirit and ambiance of the evening.
231 E. Wisconsin Ave., Lake Forest, IL 60045
This family-owned shop is pure indulgence. The options are over the top and extensive, but no worries, the prices are quite reasonable. Employees are knowledgeable and friendly, so speak up if you prefer your cheese to be soft, firm, nutty or sweet and then enjoy a sample of the recommended slice. The options aren’t limited to just cheese … row upon row of wine, meats, imported crackers, olive oil, canned tomatoes, olives and pasta sauce allow for a glorious meal or charcuterie platter to come together. There is a modest space for ordering and enjoying sandwiches, drinks, and desserts (highly recommend cannoli and brownies).