Coming from a Czechoslovakian family, I grew up eating homemade fruit dumplings (topped with brown sugar and butter) made with Bohemian love during visits with both of my grandmothers. If it wasn't a holiday or they didn't feel like cooking, though, we'd often head to one of several Czech-American restaurants in Berwyn. The thing I've come to realize about these long-established family owned restaurants is that they never really change. And that's a good thing.
The loud Czech conversations surrounding you, the old-time and modest decor, the anything-but-modest portions and the amazing food that keeps tables packed will make you feel like it could be any given year in your lifetime. Even the prices creep up only slightly over the years (which you'll surely hear someone over 70 years old commenting about). It's the unwavering quality and amazing recipes that keep the tried-and-true Czechs coming in weekly, while newcomers ask over and over again, "What's this called?" (answer: svickova, pickled beef served in a sour cream sauce).
Not far from the Berwyn epicenter of Czech life, the Riverside Family Restaurant has long been a favorite destination. For between $7 and $10, you can expect a very full lunch or dinner. By full I mean homemade rye bread served first with liver dumpling or beef noodle soup, followed by your main dish (some excellent choices include roast pork, breaded pork tenderloin and duck), a side of bread dumplings, and sauerkraut or cabbage. Also included are coffee and your choice of dessert, so save some room for kolache, a popular and delicious pastry filled with cheese, poppy seeds or apricot. If there's room in your stomach (doubtful since the portions are huge), order a side of the fruit dumplings served hot and buttery. I love being Czech.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Heather Blaha