No time to pack a picnic? Ravinia has dining options

August 9, 2013 (HIGHLAND PARK, Ill.)

But you also have a lot of good options if you'd rather just buy something to eat when you get there.

If for some reason you're rushed, and don't have time to pack a picnic at Ravinia, your options range from higher-end dining to more casual grab-and-go. What a lot of people don't realize is that some of those more causal choices change each year. And in 2013, the Latin-inspired menu in particular is worth noting.

It's easy to recline and dine among the giant trees and rolling lawns at Ravinia. But logistically speaking, that would involve cooking, prepping, packing and hauling everything into the park with you, including the chairs. What many concert-goers probably don't realize is, Levy Restaurants has three additional options for hungry guests.

Mirabelle offers multiple "chef stations" in what could also be described as a higher-end buffet. The convenience and choice are great, but you'll pay for it. Same goes for Park View, right next door and up on the second level, where a sit-down menu is available, offering plated options, also priced at a premium.

But the grab-and-go options down on the first floor have the widest appeal.

"We have grab-and-go where you can grab a salad and a sandwich or have something prepared fresh for you; from pizzas, burgers, and then our great new concept Sabrosa," said Matthew Ford, the chef for Levy Restaurants at Ravinia.

That concept features a trio of pressed sandwiches - including a loaded Cubano with ham, mustard, roast pork, pickles and jack cheese - also, chunky guac and a few flaky-crusted empanadas.

"We have chicken empanada we make in-house: red peppers, black beans, marinated, grilled chicken and it's great," said Ford.

So are the traditional elotes. They start with Midwestern corn, then gussy it up, Mexican-style.

"And we grill it off on our plancha - which is a flat-top - and we dress it up with a little bit of mayo, some chili powder, lime and some queso fresco. It's Mexican street food at its finest," said Ford.

Reservations required at Mirabelle and Park View, but Sabrosa and the other grab-and-go options are great for last-minute plans.

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