3100 N. Central - Nomination for best chowblock
- Vital Information Feb 18, 2002 09:40 AM
I know it is a little early to start politicking for the annual chowhound awards, but I am going to start campaigning for the 3100 Block of North Cenral as the best chow block in the entire six county chicago metroplex.
We had dinner last night at Grota, one of many Polish buffets around the city, but maybe the best. At least for me, I could fill myself up on the classic vital information food pyramid: pickly-stuff, fried things, starches and kolachy. To show I am no shill, I will admitt that the coffee, generously offered, stunk. All you need to know about Grota's buffet was that nothing stayed on the line too long, so the food was both fresh and plentiful.
Yet, Grota is a mere cog in the 3100 chow machine. You will find both Czech and Slovakian places. I imagine that at one time, the two joints shared one space, but then a few years ago, they peacefully decided to go their seperate ways. The Slovakian place, Happy Noodle, makes their own noodles and serves hot foods; the Czech bakery is strictly a food store but serves more than baked goods. Their refrigerator case is stocked with meals for homesick bohemians including local versions of kung pao and something described as fish eyes.
If you tire of Slavic cusine, there was a Mexican seafood resturant, a middle-eastern market and Central Gyros, named by Hot Dog Chicago in 1983 as the best gyros in Chicago.
I have just scratched the surface of this wonderous block. In closing, I must thank AnneK for turning me on to this block, and I must thank the fact that I lifted weights yesterday priming my appetite to the fullest to enjoy the block.
Vote early and vote often for the 3100 block of North Cental.
A fun time at Grota (3112). Yeah, the coffee was certainly not a highlight.
Not sure but isnt Happy Noodles (3121) Slovenian, not Slovakian? In any case its an interesting little place. I look forward to returning to try the potato dumplings with plum and poppy seed. I already regret not buying some of their homemade noodles. The poppy seed with cherry strudel was pretty good though. And the window painting of a group of Happy Noodles, sitting around a table drinking, was memorably bizarre.
But dont ignore the 3200 block either! If youre willing to extend the boundaries a block or so north, theres Central Homemade Sausage (3246), one of the better sausage shops around (especially if you speak Polish; Ive posted on this shop before). Theres another place Ive been meaning to try and Im mad at myself for not realizing how close we were. Reportedly, Alexandra Foods (3308) has some of the better cheap pierogi around. I think the store sells nothing but pierogi (frozen only) and theyre only $2 per dozen if you buy more than 10 dozen. Cant beat that. Also theres a pretty good fruit market right around there.
obvious contenders include:
- Devon west of Western
- Argyle east of Broadway
- Wentworth south of Cermak
- Archer west of Wentworth
- Roscoe west of Damen
- Lincoln Avenue south of the Lincoln Square mall
- Grand east of Racine
- Northwest Highway north of Devon
And although the following locales are less houndish, there is plenty of good food to be had in Randolph St., Rush St., Clark St. north of Belmont, Southport south of Irving Park, and any number of Damen and North blocks in Bucktown.
re: Harry V.
- Lincoln Avenue south of the Lincoln Square mall
Why stop there?
Rocco's is just past the bend of Lincoln and Western. It looks like a million other Italian beef places. But it's better than 999,998 or so. Fresh ingredients, nice range of chicken and panini sandwiches, real French fries.
re: Mike G
Except that right across the street from Rocco's is ... McDonald's. Gotta penalize the block a little for that.
Agree about Rocco's, pretty good place. Wish it stayed open a little later than 9:00 pm. South of the mall you can also get decent sandwiches at Costello, although I think the original Costello on Roscoe might be a little better.
Good point. I think my choice will be Lincoln Avenue, the section clustered around Wilson. From 4518 N. Lincoln to 4647 N. Lincoln can be found:
La Bocca della Verita, a first-class neighborhood Italian
the excellent contemporary American She She, where the cooking is good and decidedly not frou-frou
Villa Kula, acclaimed as Chicagos best (only?) teahouse, and a very nice place for lunch
Anatolia Kebap, a Turkish place that has been mentioned quite favorably on this board
Costello, a quite-good neighborhood sandwich joint
Grecian Taverna, supposed to be an OK Greek place (I havent been there)
Woodrows, satisfactory although not sublime bar food
Tartufo, a weird but interesting Italian place supposedly featuring Balkan influences
The Daily, not-too-interesting gussied-up bar food, but a nice place for cocktails
Simplon Orient Express, an eclectic Balkan-themed place I know next to nothing about.
Thats a pretty decent lineup for both quality and variety.
I also would be happy to choose 6700 N. Northwest Highway, which features:
a very good Mexican (Don Juan/Patricio)
a fine Italian (Zias Trattoria)
a pretty good Italian-American (Nonno Pinos)
a well-regarded Vietnamese (Nam Viet)
basic bar food (Emerald Isle)
fancy bar food (Mickeys)
a good deli (Tonys)
an old-time joint (Mecca Supper Club)
a good diner/breakfast spot (Ruby D and Me)
a respectable bakery (Conca dOro)
a good grocery store (Happy Foods)
and a good place for ice cream (Cafe Borgata)
As a matter of fact, Im changing my vote to 6700 N. Northwest Highway.
re: Harry V.
I think I would support the Kedzie-Lawrence block area, but what about the other unmentioned options:
--Clark and Foster junction, with mid-East bakery, Svea, new Jin Ju Korean restaurant, Swedish delis, an African grocery store, other decent (if not great) restaurants (including Kan Zaman, Tokyo Marina, and many more if you expand the "block" concept)...
--some South side block area--maybe the part of 75th with Lem's and a few other excellent restaurants, or some part of the Southwest (Mid-eastern/Mexican/Polish...)
--some part of Milwaukee between Logan Square and Avondale for Mexican, Polish and other hot spots?