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Chicago E European [Moved from Midwest]

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We will be in Chicago staying downtown with no car. We are interested in having Yugoslavian, Polish, Latvian, or other eastern European food. We have lots of restaurant ideas, but none for those. We don''t want to spend an arm and a leg, and we don't want to travel inordinately to eat. Does anyone have any recs (including address and neighborhood/location)> We don't want to travel inordinately to eat.

Years ago I went to a Yugsolavian restaurant on the streetwhere Dillinger was shot, I think in Lincoln Park???? But it's a vague memory. I do remember having a fantastic Yugoslavian pear liqueur whose name escapes me. If anyone knows the liqueur or, better yet, the restaurant, please include that info in your post.

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  1. For Polish:

    1549 W. Division St.

    You'll find more recommendations for Eastern European food in this topic:

    And you can search restaurant listings by type of food at Metromix, the Tribune's website:
    http://chicago.metromix.com/restaurants .

    Dilinger was shot in the alley next to the Biograph Theater on Lincoln Avenue just north of Fullerton. I'm not aware of a Yugoslavian (or Croatian or Serbian etc) restaurant there.

    1. Podhalanka has the advantage of being smack on the blue line, a couple of stops up from downtown. It's a very good value, but, note, decor is minimal.

      One downtown possibility is Sayat Nova. Both the menu and the country represented are arguably somewhere in the intersection of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, but if you want to try an Armenian restaurant, this old stand-by is nearby: http://www.sayatnovachicago.com/

      1. Bosnian
        Cafe Effe
        2030 W Montrose Ave
        Chicago, IL 60618
        (773) 334-3436

        Balkan Restaurant
        2321 W. Lawrence Ave.

        Polish: There are quite a few excellent choices. Here are a couple. Reasonably priced too.
        Gilmart (the very best)
        5050 S Archer Ave
        Chicago, IL 60632
        (773) 585-5514

        5725 S. Archer
        Great buffet! You must check out the adjoining Polish grocery/butcher shop.

        Here is an interesting link:

        Chicago Latvian Community Center - 4146 N Elston Ave Chicago

        2 Replies
        1. re: amoncada

          Although amoncad's post is about 2 years old, I would like to comment on Healthy Food Lithuanian. Being in Chicago for 4 days we wanted to try food which is rare on the West Coast. Amoncada commented on Healthy Food Lithuanian and said he/she heard good things about it. We decided to give it a try and were very happy that we gave it a try.

          The place is not large and run by the owner who is a lovely friendly lady who I believe was born here so language is not a problem. I must admit that this was my first experience with Lithuanian cruisine so I am certainly not an expert on the food but we have traveled to many countries of Eastern Europe so I think I have a sense of the subject.

          I ordered the combination plate which came with blynai, kugalis, and koldunai. The meal comes with soup or coleslaw. I had the saurerkraut soup and my wife had the coleslaw. The soup was a pleasant surprise and reminded me more of cabbage than saurerkraut.

          The combination plate was great and the only problem was that the proportions were large. Even so I managed to eat it all while having a conversation with the owner about her travels to Lithuania and Russia.

          I would recommend this place to anyone who wants to try a different cruisine than usual.

          1. re: hungerpains

            And on Saturday morning they've got bacon buns! (and also those blinyis for breakfast--splurge: go w/ a fruit and fill it with cheese, otherwise they might seem a little bland).

            . . . and for dessert , if the five-fruit pie is coming out of the oven, order it. no matter how full you are. It's one of the bese pies in the Chicago area.

        2. There used to be a restaurant called Yugo Inn on Ashland at Diversey -- perhaps that's the place you remember. But it's been closed for years.

          I don't know of any Latvian restaurants here, but I am extremely fond of Healthy Food, a Lithuanian resturant on S. Halsted in Bridgeport. To get there you would have to take the Orange Line to Halsted, then a Halsted St bus south about 6(?) blocks.

          Healthy Food Lithuanian
          3236 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

          1 Reply
          1. re: Amata

            I hear good things about Healthy Food Lithuanian.

          2. Two good Serbian standbys:

            Sandy's Restaurant
            7021 Higgins, Chicago

            7919 Ogden, Lyons

            Both are good. The cigarette smoke at Zupa is pretty overwhelming.
            The pear liqueur is called Kruskovac.

            1. ahh, nevermind. someone already pointed out the kruskovac. it's fairly easy to find at liquor stores.

              1. Bumping this because we're going to be in Chicago for short visit and I am hoping for some good Eastern European food recommendations! We're more interested in delis and cheap eats than nice sit-down dinners. I'm Czech, and Czech bakeries and deli recs are especially welcome (i.e. the stuff we don't make at home as often). Not really looking for Russian food, though- we can get enough of that where we live.

                We have free time as follows:
                Friday- late afternoon through evening
                Saturday- late afternoon through evening
                Sunday- all day
                Monday- morning and early afternoon

                We'll be near the DePaul College of Law (DePaul's Loop Campus and next to Grant Park). We won't have a rental car, but have no problem taking mass transit.

                Any and all recommendations are much appreciated!!!

                3 Replies
                1. re: sfumato

                  See above on Podhalanka which has maintained its quality and value since the above posts, and is still quite accessible on the blue line.

                  1. re: sfumato

                    As mentioned above, you can search on type of food on Metromix. They currently show 12 restaurants listed as Czech, although their classification system often allows some leeway so that places are not always strictly part of their category. You can view that list at:


                    Most of them are in the suburbs. I have not been to any these places, so this is not a personal recommendation; I am only looking at their Metromix listings. Such listings are usually up to date, but it's worth an advance phone call to make sure they're open if you plan on going there. Also note that address numbers correspond to distance in most of Chicago, with every 800 difference usually equal to a mile, and address numbers corresponding to the numbered streets which run east-west and numbered avenues (in the suburbs) which run north-south.

                    I see that several of these places are located in Cicero and Berwyn, along Cermak Road (also known as 22nd Street). You can take the CTA Pink Line el to its end at 54th/Cermak (i.e. 5400 West Cermak); there, you can transfer to the CTA #21 Cermak bus which continues west on Cermak through Cicero and Berwyn. CTA transfers (if you use a fare card, not cash payment) allow up to three rides in a two-hour period. Klas Restaurant is a Czech restaurant at 5734 West Cermak in Cicero so it's walkable from the Pink Line station. As you continue west on Cermak into Berwyn, you'll reach a Czech bakery called Vesecky Bakery at 6634 West Cermak. About a half mile further west is Czech Plaza, a Czech restaurant at 7016 West Cermak.

                    Czech Kitchens is another Czech restaurant in Berwyn, not along Cermak, but a couple miles further south. It's at 6733 Pershing Road (Pershing is also known as 39th Street), just east of Oak Park Avenue. If you're going there from downtown Chicago, it's about six blocks south of the Berwyn stop on Metra's BNSF line (the line that goes from Union Station in the Loop to Aurora).

                    See the Metromix link above for listings for these places, including addresses and phone numbers.

                    For maps, schedules, and other transit information, see www.transitchicago.com for the CTA (which includes buses and subways in the city of Chicago and nearby suburbs) and www.metrarail.com for Metra (the commuter rail lines between Chicago and the suburbs).

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      Thank you! Very helpful!

                      My grandmother lived in Berwyn when I was little, so I've always wanted to go back and visit- I don't remember much besides her house there!

                  2. the restaurant on lincoln ave --near the biograph theatre ( where dillinger met his demise) was actually hungarian--"the bakery"-- the chef was a very famous local chef - i believe his name was louis szamarthy or something like that, he died in the mid 90's but his restaurant had been closed for some 10 years then.-
                    chicago had a thriving serbian-croatian -bosnian community, with several excellent restaurants down in "slag alley" 95th-105th along the lake---headlined by the "golden shell" a large establishment with sro's on the 2d floor ( residence of one richard speck) where slavic sailors and deckhand coming in on ore boats would room and eat. there may be a few such restaurants left around 105th street. nearly all have closed however
                    there is a ukranian section around 2000 to 2400 west chicago ave. at the end of this section is restaurant shokolat----small but the woman has a remarkably delicate hand for eastern european items.north- side of th e street-on the corner

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: joeljcj2

                      Altho Chef Louis was Hungarian, the Bakery's cuisine was neither Yugoslavian nor Hungarian but rather an eclectic mix that nowadays would probably be called "Continental." It was basically a prix-fixe meal, the main entree usually being Beef Wellington, in the days when Chicago was all steakhouses, rib joints, and Italian villages, and it was, in general, a culinary revelation to many Chicagoans of the time

                      1. re: jbw

                        I have a wonderful memory of the bakery and Chef Szamarthy. It was "the" place to go in those days for anyone who was interested in food. I went with friends to celebrate something. I was newly married and also newly pregnant. Whatever it was that I ordered -- some veal dish -- left me feeling ill. Chef Szamarthy came to the table to see how we were doing. And I said that I couldn't eat it. He was concerned and as part of the conversation, I mentioned that I was a few months pregnant.

                        He not only comped my dish, a few weeks later I received a silver baby spoon with his name engraved on the back. That was many years ago --- the child with whom I was pregnant has a child of his own -- and I still have that lovely baby spoon.

                        Of course, I should have ordered the legendary beef Wellington, but what a great story, right?

                      2. re: joeljcj2

                        In the 1970's, there were two restaurants in Chicago that were THE places to go. Le Perroquet (owned by Chef Jovan Trboyevic) was the fancy expensive place, and the Bakery (owned by Chef Louis Szathmary) was the place you went if you wanted a high-end experience at a more moderate price. Chef Louis combined his Hungarian background with classic French cooking; their signature dish was beef wellington. It was open from 1963 to 1989.

                        Valentine's Day last year, the Tribune did a photo tribute to long-gone restaurants. It's still available on their website:


                        Click on image 5 of 13 to see the photo and read what they had to say about it.

                      3. If you are interested in picking up any Eastern European grocery items there is a good source you can easily get to without a car. From downtown, walk over to Dearborn and take the Clark 22 bus heading north. In about 30 minutes you will reach Devon Avenue. Walk east about one block. On your left will be a big supermarket that specializes in Eastern European imports---jams, canned vegetables and meats, juices, candy, cookies etc. I think the name is Devon Market but I haven't been there for a while and may not remember the name acccurately. You can also get there by taking the Red Line subway/EL to Loyola then walking south to Devon and west to the market (about 3 or 4 blocks total as I recall.