Orange Garden Chicago's oldest Chinese restaurant

Orange Garden Chicago's oldest Chinese restaurant
Orange Garden has the oldest operating neon sign in Chicago.

After photographing the Taste of Lakeview I was hungry. Though the music was good, none of the food piqued my interest.

I decided to eat at Orange Garden, 1942 W. Irving Park Rd. I passed by this place countless times over the decades.

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The exterior was designed to look like a diner, with an Art Deco theme.

Orange Garden is the oldest Chinese restaurant in Chicago. It also boasts the oldest working neon sign in the city.

The restaurant was opened in 1926.* The original owner, W. Chan, needed a way to sell Chinese food to Americans.

Mr. Chan made his restaurant look like an American diner of the era. He designed the facade using an Art Deco theme. The interior had black booths along with Chinese decorations.

The interior is dim, with light filtering in through the front windows. There is an early 20th century feel to the place.

The menu items were given Americanized names. The food is Cantonese inspired. The menu is extensive. It includes dinners for two to six people and lunch specials. The lunch specials are priced under $8.00 and come with fired or steamed rice and egg roll.

An old school classic, Hong Kong Steak, is on the menu. The Chicago Tribune's Bill Daley recently wrote a piece about Hong Kong Steak, including a recipe.

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The Kung Pao combination.

The combination plates were interesting. Most were beef, chicken, and shrimp with stir fried vegetables. I chose the Kung Pao Combination. It was described as spicy hot.

It was delicious. The heat was moderate and the flavors of all the ingredients came through. The shrimp, beef and chicken were  perfectly cooked. The dish was heavy on green peppers. Since I like them, that was no problem.

Service was great. The waiter was attentive and the wait for my meal was minimal.

In my world the food comes first. All the ambiance and decor in the world cannot make food taste better.

If you are looking for delicious Cantonese food at reasonable prices then head to the Orange Garden.

They have carry out and offer delivery. You can call or order online. Orange garden also has a catering menu.

*Some accounts claim Orange Garden opened in 1924 or 25. One claims 1932, which may be the year the restaurant changed ownership. Orange Garden opened before Chinatown's oldest restaurant, Wan Kow, which opened its doors in 1927.

 

 

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