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Oct 30, 2007 02:12 AM

Visiting from San Francisco-Where to go?

My bf and i will be visiting family in Wilmette sometime in the begining of the new year and are looking for places we absolutely cannot miss. We'll go to Gino's East 'cause I like it, but other that that where should we go? Any thoughts? There were lots of exciting looking places in this months Savuer Chicago issue. Would love to find lots of good neighborhood joints with amazing food that won't break the bank. We have a case of champagne taste (or good beer), (cheap) beer pockets. and we're really really spoiled coming from San Francisco. So any ideas for:

Somewhere on Devon Ave for really excellent affordable Indian food?
Good German food?
Best greeek food in Greek town?
Favorite pizza?
Somewhere to get loads of veggies? Not a totally vegetarian place but I like to eat my vegetables, lots of dark green, leafy, organic ones and tend to miss them when I leave California......

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  1. I've recently had a couple of excellent meals at Uru-Swati. It's at 2629 Devon, it's vegetarian and it's very inexpensive (hard to spend more than $10/person). There are many other very good Indian restaurants, snack shops and stores to check out in the area -- a great one to walk around.

    For very good German food, definitely try Laschet's Inn on Irving Park on the north side. Also very good is Resi's Bierstube, very near Laschet's on Irving Park. Both are very reasonable in terms of price.

    Greek food - I prefer Greek Islands, but frankly, I don't find many differences between any of them. Costa's might be a bit more upscale. Santorini specializes more in seafood.

    As far as pizza goes, I much prefer Pizano's and Lou Malnati's to Gino's, but that's me. But as long as you've read the Saveur Chicago issue, and since you'll be in Wilmette, it would seem a shame to miss Burt's, wouldn't it?

    1. You can go just about anywhere along Devon Avenue and get decent Indian food. And you don't even need to go that far from Wilmette; Mount Everest ( ) in downtown Evanston and Bombay Kabab House in south Evanston (Dodge/California at Howard) are both pretty good too.

      For pizza, why not go to one of the closer places in Evanston, rather than traveling all the way to a location for Gino's East? For single-crust "pan" pizza, it's just as good at Lou Malnati's, which has a location in downtown Evanston, and for double-crust "stuffed" pizza, Giordano's has a location in downtown Evanston too. Both are my favorite Chicago-style pizza places. (I do not like the "burnt crust" style pizza served at Burt's, which is further from Wilmette also.)

      For more opinions on Chicago-style pizza:

      For recommendations of Greek restaurants in Greek Town, see:

      Funny, my sister just visited from the SFBay area this past weekend. After going to North Pond, Lou Malnati's, and Devon Avenue, she now believes that Chicago has better quality and variety in its food than she can get at home... ;)

      12 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        There nsxtasy goes again with that Burt's "burnt crust" lie. What this guy insists on calling "burnt crust" is actually a fine lacy edge of blackened cheese that encircles the pizza, where it contacted the pan. It is no more than 1/4 inch wide and less than 1 millimeter in thickness. If you don't like it, it is easily removed, but most people find it delicious. The crust itself is actually uniformly golden brown, and not burnt at all. As you mentioned, you can see a photo of Burt's pizza on the cover of aforementioned issue Sauveur magazine. That picture was taken of a random customer eating pizza. It was not staged. Decide for yourself. I think it is the best pizza of its genre in the world, and apparently I have some pretty good backup on that. It would indeed be a shame to miss Burt's.

        1. re: Roger Spark

          Im with you, we enjoy Burt's, and any out of town guest we have brought there has enjoyed it as well.

          1. re: Roger Spark

            True . . . the crust is not burnt and it is excellent. I would hope nobody gets the wrong idea about Burt's pizza because it really is outstanding and he really cares about the ingredients.

            Also, don't compare Burt's to the pizza at Pequod's on Clybourn . . . very similar, but Burt's is much better (He was the owner of the original Pequod's).

            1. re: Roger Spark

              You can call it a "blackened edge" if you like; that sure sounds to me like the same thing as "burnt crust". It's just different words for the same thing you're saying.

              The reason I don't like the pizza at Burt's (and Pequod's) is not solely because of the burnt crust, or blackened edge, or whatever words you like to use. The reason I don't like it is primarily because, in my opinion, the taste is quite bland - bland crust, bland sauce (even Pequod's sauce has far more tomato flavor), and just bland overall. I find the crust and overall taste on Malnati's and Giordano's are far more delicious. I consider Burt's to be too bland, and a poor representation of Chicago-style deep-dish pizza when there are such better examples around like Malnati's and Giordano's. That's my opinion, and you are welcome to yours.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Bland is no good. I hate bland sauce and crust. Well, we'll probably just end up going to Giordano's. It's my sister's favorite as well as the kiddos so, we'll probably get that delivered one night. And then when the bf and I are wandering around the city we're bound to run into a pizza place and we'll most likely be hungry and end up eating there. Wherever it may be. I'll have to let you know how it goes.

                1. re: misti

                  I would give Burt's a try and not let one detractor sway you in the wrong direction. There's a reason Burt's was written up in Saveur and there's a reason the LTH Forum voted it one of the Great Neighborhood Restaurants in the Chicago area (no other deep dish pizza place has received the award). Check out the following links, which will also lead you to pictures of the pizza at Burt's: and

                2. re: nsxtasy

                  Although I'm a huge Malnati's fan, I do like Burt's and their ingredients are top rate. And if you don't like burnt bits on a crust, so be it -- you're certainly entitled to your opinion. Personally, one of the things I love about some of the new thin crust spots in town (Coalfire, Spacca Napoli) are the tasty, bubbly, charred spots on the crust. In fact, that's what makes the crust for me. And back to Burt's, I love it. I just prefer Malnati's and Pizano's, but not by much.

                  As for Giordano's, they're closing in on about 50 locations and I find that they are very similar in quality to the Uno's franchise locations (not to be compared with the original Uno's downtown) in a very artificial sort of way. I would dissuade all Chicago visitors from stepping anywhere near Giordano's.

                  1. re: BRB

                    I am with you BRB, Any of my out of town guests that want to go to Giordano's I can typically talk out of going. But the few who do not heed my warning come away very disappointed with the pizza @ Giordano's. Giordano's is a chain afterall.

                    1. re: BRB

                      My experience is entirely different between the two chains. Giordano's makes absolutely delicious pizza, in the unique "stuffed" style. I like it better than Malnati's and Pizano's because the outer crust along the edges is just wonderful. (However, I also like Malnati's and Pizano's.) Giordano's, like Malnati's, does a great job of maintaining the same consistent quality from location to location to location, so you can get the same quality pizza at any of their locations. This is NOT true of Uno's, which serves excellent pizza at their original location, and generally terrible pizza at their other locations.

                      I continue to take my out-of-town visitors to Giordano's and they all love it. I encourage any visitors to go there. Heck, if you have the chance, try more than one - Giordano's, Malnati's, the original location of Uno's and Due, etc.

                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        Burt's is definitely the way to go. I have not seen anyone who didn't appreciate it. The other spots (eg, Giordanos) tend to be mostly for tourists. (No surprise the tourists go for it!) On the other hand, Burt's is more unique and not something you find jusy anywhere. Really delicious and fresh as can be. Not sure why OP calls it burnt -she's in a minority here obviously. Try it!

                3. re: nsxtasy

                  thanks! I hope we leave thinking the food is better in Chicago. My Bf and I are thinking of moving to Chiago and have a hard time leaving SF mostly because of the food.

                4. Hema's Kitchen is terrific and affordable Indian food. There is a downtown location at Clark and Fullerton and one at Oakley and Devon, which is a bit cheaper and better. They grind all their spices fresh and it shows. The lamb curry is extremely memorable.

                  If you want some cheap and good Thai, try Spoon Thai (take Brown line to Western, it's across the street). Ask for the "secret" menu. There are links galore to the menu, which Erik M. had translated, and he did a great job. It's BYOB, btw.

                  Chicago Diner might be a good idea for veggies. Feast in Wicker Park is also good, and perhaps the best bet (for cheap) is Luna Cafe, which has good dishes with local goods for under $10 (although they have two menus; the more upscale one is still pretty reasonable).

                  If you want dirt-cheap Indian/Pakistani, just go to the corner of Western and Devon and go window shopping. If the place is empty, skip it. There are a lot of really mediocre or downright bad places. If it's filled with Indian people, it's probably a good bet.

                  1. "Somewhere on Devon Ave for really excellent affordable Indian food?"
                    We've got the goods for Inndian Food.

                    I'm always pimping Chicago's Indian food scene. I believe we have the biggest population of ppl of Indian descent on this continent second only to some city up in Canada. We definitely have Indian food here. Authentic Indian food. Uru Swati is a not to be missed, for sure, but for a taste of Pakistani (meat,) here's my don't miss:
                    Khan's BBQ.
                    Chicken Boti, broasted chicken, and Aloo Gobi Masala, Drinks, and breads, yer lookin at 35.00 out the door for two ppl with leftovers for at least one more full meal. And it's GOOD. REALLY good.

                    Khan B.B.Q
                    2401 W Devon
                    Chicago, IL 60645

                    I'll let the others get back to their pizza fight now. lol. You will learn that the topic of pizza will instantly spark a fight. As will Italian Beef sammiches, meatball sammiches, italian sub sammiches, gyros, hot dogs....

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: gordeaux

                      I'd say that recommendation at Khan is basically perfect. Those are probably the two best meats and the best vegetable, and they're all AWESOME.

                      Burt's, Khan, Laschett's, anything in greektown. Those are the go-to spots, personally.

                      Burt's is the only deep dish my wife will eat, and Khan serves the best fried chicken either of us has ever had (the broasted).