The Drop Zone: Geneva, Illinois

geBy Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
December 30, 2005

Who needs Main Street when you’ve got Third Street? Stretching along six blocks of downtown Geneva — and located 40 miles west of Chicago — the Third Street District offers quite the array for folks looking for a way to spend a lazy day.

Full of antique shops, restaurants, confectionaries, boutiques and cafes, Geneva is both quaint and cosmopolitan. It’s the city’s quaint quotient that lured filmmakers to shoot part of Tom Hanks’ “Road to Perdition” here. (Drive along State Street and you may recognize some of the buildings.)

So park your car, pull on your warm winter gear and take some time to stroll down Third Street.

LOCATION, LOCATION

302 West 302 W. State (630) 232-9302

Located at the corner of State and Third streets, 302 West is not to be missed. Naming your restaurant after its location is one way to make sure diners remember where your eatery is located. Consistently creating memorable dishes is another. Situated in a former bank lobby, this two-level restaurant is fine dining without the attitude. Famous for its seafood and impeccable service, 302 West feels no inferiority complex to some of Chicago’s better-known eateries. The array of flavors tickling your taste buds are a fusion of Asian, Mexican and French. Save room for dessert. The homemade sorbet is a perfect way to end an evening meal.

Hours: 6-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; closed Sunday-Monday.

FOR YOUR VALENTINE

Paper Merchant 328 S. Third (630) 232-1880

Nothing sets the tone for a gift better than the perfect card and wrapping paper. Granted, Christmas is over, but it’s less than two months till Valentine’s Day. With that in mind, be sure to take a peek at the Paper Merchant. Stocked with a unique array of greeting cards, photo albums and beautiful writing paper, the items will impress your sweetie any time of the year. You can’t miss the shop — there’s a vintage bicycle parked right outside.

Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday through spring.

CORN’S A-POPPIN’

Kernel Fabyan’s Gourmet Popcorn Shoppe 511 S. Third (630) 232-7151

Chicago has Garrett’s. Geneva has Kernel Fabyan’s. The old-fashioned popcorn shop’s name is an homage to philanthropist Colonel George Fabyan, but its recipes pay tribute to America’s love for good old-fashioned popcorn with a gourmet twist. Their cooking style is so fresh and tasty that even the “Natural Pop” — air popped popcorn with nothing else added — is a delicious treat. If calories aren’t an issue, opt for “Nelle’s Combo Pop” (the caramel and cheese mixture is to die for).

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday-Monday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.

PLAY STOP

Assembly Line Toys 220 S. Third (630) 232-2726

Sure, those warehouse-size toy stores can come in handy. But there’s nothing like an old-fashioned toy store to bring out the kid in all of us. At Assembly Line Toys, shoppers will find everything from old-school favorites (Playmobil and Lego) to today’s must-haves (Calico Critters and Uglydolls). Full of books, puzzles, dolls, trains and toys, the store is a welcome treat for kids of all ages.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Sunday.

FRENCH CONNECTION

Le Berry Bistro 227 S. Third (630) 232-2330

Situated on the second floor of the historic Berry House, Le Berry Bistro is one of Geneva’s most beloved eateries. Serving up a menu that’s equal parts French and American, the offerings are eclectic (everything from steak and pasta to filet de boeuf), filling and not fussy at all. Though there can be lines to dine here, diners never feel rushed to vacate their tables. So sit a spell, have a coffee and contemplate ordering dessert.

Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.

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