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Nov 16, 2007 06:29 AM

ISO- Unusually unique ethnic restaurant

Our group of girls have tried all sorts of various ethnic restaurants, with the goal to find the most "unique" of ethnic restaurants. (so, Chinese and Italian: not so unique; Belgian and Afghani: much more unique).
So Chowhounds, please send out ideas for the more unique gems to try! Thanks!

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  1. The restaurants listings on Metromix, the entertainment website of the Chicago Tribune located at , show the following number of restaurants by types of food, and you can click on each type for the listings:

    Afghani (3) American Regional (77) Austrian (25) Bagels (33) Bar Food (339) Barbecue (128) Belgian (1) British (67) Burgers (445) Cajun Creole (40) Central American (10) Chicken (55) Chili (15) Chinese (842) Contemporary (631) Croatian (3) Cuban (21) Czech (11) Desserts (1) Doughnuts (15) Ethiopian (4) Filipino (6) Fondue (6) French (124) Fusion Pan Asian (133) Game (10) Gelato (1) German (25) Greek (126) Gyros (80) Health (18) Hot Dogs (301) Hungarian (6) Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt (249) Indian (85) Indonesian (2) Irish (69) Israeli (3) Italian (912) Italian Beef (99) Jamaican (28) Japanese (204) Korean (55) Kosher (28) Lebanese (14) Mediterranean (70) Mexican (732) Moroccan (13) Noodles (48) Nuevo Latino (25) Pakistani (25) Pancakes (58) Pizza (1009) Polish (48) Puerto Rican (16) Romanian (2) Russian (8) Salads (1) Sandwiches (142) Scandinavian (10) Scottish (68) Seafood (280) Serbian (2) Soul Food (37) Soups (1) South American (42) Spanish (35) Steaks (284) Subs (142) Sushi (125) Tacos/Burritos (55) Tex Mex (728) Thai (184) Tibetan (1) Traditional Classic (714) Turkish (6) Ukrainian (8) Vegetarian (60) Vietnamese (56)

    Sounds like Belgian and Tibetan are the two ethnicities with only one restaurant in the area, followed by Indonesian and Romanian with two places.

    3 Replies
      1. re: chowgrrl

        So you say no Chinese, but have you ever really worked your way through a Chinese menu? Maybe - but for example at Lao Szechauan among the hundreds of options you will find the "Chinese Specialties" such as: Pig Ear Szechuan Style*; Famous Szechuan Sour Pickle and Meat Mix*; Fish Head Casserole Soup; Stir-Fried Beef Maw*; Stir-Fried Pork Stomach with Dry Bean Curd; Kung Pao Kidneys*; Double Cooked Spicy Pork Intestine; Stew Beef Trim Flankie with Beef in Pot*; Pork Blood Cake with Chives; Beef Maw and Pork Blood Cake Home Style**; Egg Noodle Soup with Pork Intestine Home Style*; Chef's Special Dry Chili Blue Crab**

        They still have enough "standard" menu items (chicken and beef) to round out the menu, but a little pig ear and beef maw might spice up the meal a little.

        Also - there are some wonderful Thai restaurants that serve a huge array of traditional Thai dishes that you would not find in a typical Americanized Thai restaurant. Most feature a special "Thai" menu, many of which have been translated to English so that you can enjoy these more unique offerings as well. Spoon Thai and TAC Quick are probably the most often recommended.

        That being said, you also mentioned Belgian, and the one Belgian place that comes to mind is Hopleaf which is more of a bar with excellent food than a restaurant, but certainly worth visiting.

        You could also check out the LTH Great Neighborhood Restaurant list:

        Finally, one of the fine specialties in Chicago is Mexican food - including many places that specialize in the cooking of a particular region of Mexico that may be much different from what comes to mind when you think Mexican food.

      2. re: nsxtasy

        Let's see- 18 health food places and 301 hot dog stands- wow, I just might have to move to Chicago!

      3. I'm very much like you (when I was home in NYC last month, tried a Yemeni place).

        Here's some off the top of my head:

        Peruvian: Taste of Peru, in Rogers Park;
        Nigerian/Ghanaian: Bolat, by Wrigley; ;get the goat with the coconut rice!
        Ethiopian: Ethiopian Diamond, north on Broadway;
        Lithuanian: Duke's, out past Midway;
        Senegalese: Yassa, south side; good food; been with a group...area was a bit sketchy to some

        Also saw a Laotian place opened up on Broadway recently; will check it out this weekend probably and report back.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Chartrand

          Cafe Nhu-Ho was an awesome Laotian place on Argyle. It's closed now. What is the new Laotian restaurant?

          1. re: rubinow

            Don't bother. RST is correct on the location. It says it's Lao on the outside, but it's one of those generic Asian "pick 3 items for $5" takeout places with things like chow mein and pad thai noodles. It might (or might not) be good in its own right, but wasn't what I was seeking (I did not stay and went down to old fallback of Tank Noodle instead).

          2. re: Chartrand

            Sadly, Yemeni is no longer represented here in Chicago. The Afghan restaurant which opened earlier this summer on Montrose at Elston near the Mosque used to be a Yemeni-owned restaurant called Red Sea about two years ago. I had several wonderful meals there. Red Sea had the distinction not only of being the only place in Chicago to find daily Yemeni specials but also the only place to go to for Moroccan breakfast (baghrir and so on; there is a rich Maghrebi presence in this part of town). Alas, a fire broke out (I think this was what happened) and the place remained shuttered for a good year before the Afghan restaurant took over.


            (To rubinow: I think Chartrand is referring to the new place right next to Golden Pacific in Edgewater.)

          3. A 30 min hike from Chicago proper. I've never been. Do your own research on this Uzbeki spot:
            19 E. Dundee Rd.
            Buffalo Grove

            Have you been to the bare bones Paki places like Ghareeb Nawaz or the smaller Hyderbaad House on Devon? I would consider those unique gems. More unique in that they are very bare bones kinda places, gems because they do some things REALLY good, and REALLY cheap.

            1. not tibetan but cloase Mt everest in Evanston serves some great traditional Nepalese food -

              1. There used to be an African place on North Sheridan that had a sign in the window "We have Giant Slug". That's fairly ethnic.