Orange Garden a slice of Chicago restaurant history
Orange Garden is the oldest Chinese restaurant in Chicago. Located at 1942 W. Irving Park Avenue, it also boasts the oldest working neon sign in the city.
Over the decades I passed by this gem countless times, never realizing its history.
The restaurant opened in 1926.* The original owner, W. Chan, wanted to find a way to sell Chinese food to Americans. He relocated from Chinatown to the North Side.
Mr. Chan designed his restaurant to resemble American diners of the era. The facade has an Art Deco theme of red and steel. The interior has black booths along with Chinese decorations on the walls.
The interior is dim, with sunlight filtering in through the front windows. There is an early 20th century feel to the place.
Several 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 fried or steamed rice and egg roll.
An old school classic, Hong Kong Steak, is on the menu. The Chicago Tribune’s Bill Daley wrote a piece about Hong Kong Steak, including a recipe.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 and looked succulent.
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 great Cantonese food at reasonable prices then head to the Orange Garden.
They have carry out and 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.