Walk This Way

September 2021 View more

Culture, cuisine, and convenience are three reasons that Desiree Chen-Menichini enjoys living and working in Elmhurst—and those perks are easily enjoyed by visitors, too. 

“I think part of the appeal is that we are a very convenient, very walkable community,” says Chen-Menichini, 56, who works for Elmhurst University. She started working for the university (then called Elmhurst College) in 2009 after 18 years as a reporter and an editor for the Chicago Tribune, a sister publication of Naperville magazine. She and her husband, Mike Menichini, moved to Elmhurst from Chicago in 1998 and have since raised their two children there. 

Whether you arrive by car or train, Chen-Menichini suggests beginning your day in downtown Elmhurst. “You can take the Metra train here and get off and you’re basically on our campus,” she says. Elmhurst University regularly hosts lectures, concerts, and other cultural events that are open to the public. “We have the amazing Elmhurst Art Museum and Elmhurst History Museum, and there’s always something going on in Wilder Park.” 

The latest draw at the Elmhurst Art Museum (150 S. Cottage Hill Ave., 630.834.0202) is Par Excellence Redux, an artist-designed mini-golf course inside the museum created as a nod to Par Excellence, a 1988 exhibition at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. “If you want to eat, I think Elmhurst really has a wonderful collection of restaurants—and mostly locally owned,” she says. Chen-Menichini’s favorite place for breakfast is Stray Hen Cafe (105 S. York St., 630.359.5282, strayhencafe.com). “They have wonderful brunches and they’re a nice old historic building,” she says. She also likes Kan Ya (108 Schiller St., 630.359.3463, kanyaus.com) for more than a dozen ramen options and Ming Chef Asian Cuisine (233 N. York St., 630.501.1288, mingchefcuisine.com) for bubble tea and Japanese tofu. 

On the south side of town, Chen-Menichini is a big fan of Roberto’s Ristorante (483 Spring Rd., 630.279.8486, robertosristorante.com). She also likes to walk to York Community High School football games with her husband and stop at Doc’s Victory Pub (490 Spring Rd., 630.501.1130, docsvictorypub.com) for a burger and a beer on the way. 

Perhaps the most iconic business downtown is York Theatre (150 N. York St., 630.834.0681, classiccinemas.com). “I think there was a period when a lot of downtowns were sort of on the decline when shopping malls were ascending,” she says. “York Theatre has really hung in there and it’s still the gathering place for so much of the community.” 

Home Run 

History buffs and sports fans alike will enjoy the Town vs. Gown Vintage Baseball Game on September 26 to
celebrate Elmhurst University’s 150th anniversary. Tote a lawn chair and picnic to watch a vintage-inspired baseball game played by 19th-century rules. City of Elmhurst officials will oppose a team of Elmhurst University faculty and alumni on the lawn of the University Mall (190 Prospect Ave.). Details: elmhursthistory.org

Photos courtesy Classic Cinemas and Elmhurst History Museum