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Aug 30, 2001 03:58 PM

Moving to Chicago -- Need Food

  • h

I am moving to Chicago next week and would like some help navigating the unfamiliar territory.

I'll be living in the Ukranian Village and working on the Navy Pier. Any recommendations on cheap and (pretty) fast food in either area would be greatly appreciated.

I like Italian, Spanish, Indian, Thai, Afghani, Etheopian, French -- I'll try almost anything once.

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  1. Welcome to Chicago, hantroy.

    I'm assuming that you'll be taking public transport to/from work? Possibly the Chicago 66 Bus? At any rate, I'll give you a tour of Chicago Avenue. Hopefully, others will chime in with more West Town recommendations, as well as for the Navy Pier area.

    Kasia's Polish Delicattesen
    2101 W. Chicago (@ Hoyne)
    A great selection of salads, pierogi, sausages, sandwich items, prepared vegetable/meat dishes, etc. This is a Polish/Ukranian neighborhood. Get comfortable.

    Caesar's Polish Deli
    901 N. Damen (@ Iowa)
    Similar to Kasia's. Sandwiches to order, coffee, bagels...

    Sak's Ukranian Village Restaurant & Lounge
    2301 W. Chicago (@ Oakley)
    Cheap/plentiful Ukranian eats.

    Privata Cafe
    1938 W. Chicago (b/w Damen&Winchester)
    "Italian with a touch of Mexico."
    I'm not sold on the place, let alone the concept... however, I do recommend their grilled chicken burrito...for take away.

    Atomix Cafe
    1957 W. Chicago
    A good Coffee Shop, if coffee is what yr after. Sandwiches, breakfast items, baked goods.

    Edmar Foods
    2019 W. Chicago
    One of the only grocery stores in the area.

    Tuman's Alcohol Abuse Center
    Chicago @ Leavitt
    Cheap Booze... Good Jukebox... Crap pool table = Hipster Headquarters.

    1934 W. Chicago
    Mexican grocery, liquor store, and restaurant.

    El Taco Veloz
    1745 W. Chicago
    Good, cheap Mexican food. Open late.

    DeMar's Grill
    1701 W. Chicago (@ Wood)
    "Old School" Coffee Shop.

    1814 W. Chicago
    Full-bar (read: fancy) Mexican. Not really recommended, but everyone in the neighborhood ends up here, at some point.

    Thai Castle
    1546-48 W. Chicago
    Cheap, dependable Thai. I've never been in, but its the fastest Thai delivery hereabouts.

    1434 W. Chicago
    Mexican-inflected breakfast/lunch/brunch place.

    I realize that I threw in some random stuff. I also realize that I didn't list any Italian, Spanish, Indian, French, or Ethiopian places...they're not to be found in this area. Well, that's not completely true. For Italian, I can recommend Bella Notte and La Scarola, on Grand Ave. I'd also recommend Bari Foods, on Grand, for Italian sandwiches.

    The closest Spanish place is Cafe Iberico, downtown. [I can't recommend it, though.]

    The closest Indian places are downtown, as well. Klay Oven, Gaylord, Jaipur, Buhkara, and Indian Garden. [Not *strongly* recommended. For strong recommendations, see what chowhounds have said about places on Devon Ave.] For Pakistani buffet fare, there's Baba's, near the Merchandise Mart. [zim has posted on it.]

    The closest Ethiopian places are way up on Clark...
    There are some French options, downtown. I like Kiki's and Bistrot Margot...

    If you do a keyword search, you'll come across most of the places I listed. For additional cheap/fast eats in the Ukie/Wicker/Bucktown area, you might want to search for Bite, Flying Saucer, Leo's, Thai Village, Margie's Candies, Arturo's, Hillary's Urban Eatery, Luc Thang Noodle, La Pasadita, El Chino...

    Good Luck,
    Erik M.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Erik M.
      Vital Information

      Eric, you seem to know this chicago avenue area pretty well, I have a couple of questions.

      First, almost always, on my occasional new york forays, my wife and I eat Ukranian, usually at Kiev. The prices are amazing and the blintzs, potato pancakes, etc. cannot be beat. Years ago, I ate at Galans. This obviously was nothing like a coffee shop. Not that long ago, on a sunday, after trying to find privata cafe, we ended up at a ukranian buffet place. we enjoyed, but still. So, my first question is about Saks? Is it a blintz kinda place or a roast pork kinda place (If you have ever been to a ukranian place in the east village, maybe this would make a bit more sense).

      Second, any experience with the resturant in the division street baths? A friend of mine and I have been trying to make a schvitz date. I have never seen anything ANYWHERE about the food inside. I do not even know if they still HAVE a resturant.

      by the way, for what it's worth, for those in the city looking to sample the oak park, river forest, elmwood park places that i and zim, etc. have written about chicago avenue is about the easiest way to get our our way from the city, and of course, vice versa...


      1. re: Vital Information

        "This American Life" on NPR recently ran a piece on a guy who went to the baths, and he talked about the food. You can hear the episode in Real Audio from their website - it's episode 191 and I link below to the file. Here's the description of the piece:

        Act Two. It's Not the Heat, It's the Humility. Jonathan Goldstein heads into an environment that's so hot that they people there believe that sweating -- simply sweating -- is getting something accomplished. Life in the Division Street Russian Bath turns out to follow a different -- and superior -- set of rules to life elsewhere. Jonathan's the author of the novel
        Lenny Bruce is Dead. (14 minutes
        Song: Ella Fitzgerald, "Too Darn Hot"


        1. re: lee

          The Division Street Baths serve up some of the BEST chicken soup I have ever enjoyed--outside of home made. They recently completed a renovation on the women's side and it is much improved.

          1. re: lee

            NOTE - the piece on the baths is the SECOND act, you have to listen to the first act before it comes up. But it's fine, too :)

            1. re: lee

              great show, great segment.

              I especially liked the
              "cheese on toast"
              "grilled cheese sandwich"


              1. re: zim

                Yes, and there is a real difference between grilled cheese and toasted cheese and cheese on toast. My mom always made toasted cheese but called it grilled cheese. My dad eats cheese sandwiches made on toast.

                The voice of the author of the segment, reading, makes such a difference!

                And someone once had a great web page - he and his wife got something like 6 toaster ovens when they got married, so they were making toasted cheese all the time :)

            2. re: Vital Information


              I happen to live in Ukranian Village. I also happen to be(1/2)Polish. I take pride in my neighborhood!

              About Sak's...
              Yr question makes perfect sense. Its a "roast pork kinda place." [As an aside, do you remember the name of the buffet place that you went to?]

              About the baths...
              I'm sorry to say that I've never been, so I wouldn't know about the food. It looks like Lee's got a lead for you, though. [I seem to recall a write-up about the baths in New City, awhile back...]

              See you Sunday,
              Erik M.

              1. re: Erik M.
                Vital Information

                I kept my eye open today while driving west on chicago. The ukranian buffet is called Old Lviv. Our one experience, about 8 months ago was a lot of fun, although it was a bit off-putting to be non-ukranian. like the polish buffet places, not all the food is great, but there's lots of it.


              2. re: Vital Information

                Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Vital, but Kiev closed a couple of months back. The space (7th St. and 2nd Ave.) has been taken over by a place called Zoo Cafe, which seems to have pretty much the same menu and ultra-low prices. There are still many, many polish and ukrainian restaurants in the E. Village, although none that I've tried have stacked up to, say, Mabenka (79th and Cicero).

              3. re: Erik M.

                if you look a little further down the board to a thread when seth zurer moved you may find stuff in that nabe a little further west.