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Mar 20, 2010 11:28 AM

Middle eastern food in chicago?

I am looking for a great middle eastern place to take my family to for lunch. Any place that has great shawerma is a plus. Any Idea's?

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  1. Oasis Cafe in the Loop is the most frequently recommended Middle Eastern restaurant. There's also Pita Inn in Skokie. Where are you located?

    7 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      I will be in the River North area

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Thanks a lot, i hear a lot about Pita inn, is it worth the drive?

          1. re: ays89

            It's good but similar to Oasis Cafe, so I don't think it's worth the drive if you're in River North and not going to be up that way anyway.

            FWIW, though, if you decide you want to check it out, the Skokie location is about 14 miles or so north of River North. Figure 25-30 minutes by car/taxi. By public transit, you would need to either take the CTA Purple Line to Davis and catch the #250 Dempster Pace bus westbound, or take the CTA Yellow Line to Dempster and catch the same bus eastbound. There are also locations in north suburban Wheeling and Glenview. The restaurant website is and you can get transit information at although their transit information doesn't always work well; the CTA website is and Pace is

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Thanks a lot for the help, I will be in the River North area for 3 days, is there any restaurants or any activities that I just can't miss? Sorry about changing the subject on you but any help would be awesome.

              1. re: ays89

                There are really so many, it's hard to choose just one or two. However, last week someone staying in River North asked for recommendations of great food that is unique to Chicago. Below is my response. (However, keep in mind that there are many foods that are not unique to Chicago, but for which we have excellent places, such as steaks, seafood, Italian food, French bistros, ethnic food from nationalities all over the world, etc - so feel free to ask about any other kind of food in addition to those I have mentioned below!)

                Deep-dish pizza - in River North, you can go to the place where it all started - Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due. They're still there, and they're still excellent. Phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes for your pizza to bake.

                Chicago hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches - Right in River North on Ontario Street, there are two places, a block away from each other, and you can get both of these local specialties at either of them: Portillo's ( ), and Al's Beef ( ).

                Fine dining - We have a restaurant that was recently ranked one of the ten best restaurants in the WORLD. It's called Alinea, from Chef Grant Achatz, and it will blow your mind. To get an idea what it's like, check out the comic strip at Yes, it's expensive (figure $300 per person including moderate wine, tax, tip), and dressy (jackets for gentlemen), but it's unique and it's here. It's in Lincoln Park, about two miles north of where you're staying.

                Rick Bayless's restaurants (Topolobampo, Frontera Grill, XOCO) - Chicago has a collection of wonderful restaurants specializing in creative provincial Mexican cuisine, which is difficult to find almost anywhere else this side of the border. Rick Bayless is widely recognized for bringing this trend here, and his restaurants are still excellent and providing the most creative Mexican food in town. Topolobampo is the most expensive, although it's surprisingly affordable at lunchtime, and accepts reservations in advance but books up long in advance for dinners, not as much for lunch. Frontera Grill is not as expensive, but accepts only a handful of reservations and keeps most of the dining room available for walk-in traffic. Waits for a table can be lengthy on weekends and at lunchtime. XOCO is his take on Mexican street food and I've found the food there excellent when you are in the mood for lighter fare; beware long lines at lunchtime. They are all at the same location, in the middle of River North.

                North Pond uniquely represents Chicago for its setting, located in the middle of Lincoln Park (the park itself, not the adjacent neighborhood of the same name) facing its namesake pond with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore. The renovated building formerly served as the warming shelter for skaters on the frozen pond in the winter. The food is contemporary American featuring local and seasonal ingredients from James Beard Award finalist Chef Bruce Sherman. It's about three miles north of River North.

                Our new French Market, located just west of the Loop in one of the train stations, is worth a visit. Keep in mind that it just opened a couple of months ago, and it's not fancy. However, it has several dozen food booths and these include some of the very best that Chicago has to offer. Highlights include the croissants, entremets, and French macaroons at Vanille Patisserie; the artisan chocolates at Canady Le Chocolatier (whose main shop is in the South Loop, also not far away); the cheeses at Pastoral; and the rainbow cookies at Delightful Pastries.

                While you're here, go to Garrett's Popcorn. There are several locations in the Loop and one on Michigan Avenue, all walkable from River North. They have caramel popcorn (with or without cashews or pecans), cheese popcorn, or a mix of caramel/cheese. Yum!

                Fox & Obel is our premier gourmet food store, with the finest meats, cheeses, and other basics, as well as the finest baked goods and other prepared foods. Don't miss the yummy cinnamon swirl rolls at the bakery counter! There's a cafe in the rear if you want to eat anything on the premises, from a cup of coffee to an entire meal prepared to order. It's on the other side of Michigan Avenue a short walk from River North.

                Most of our better restaurants, including North Pond and Topolobampo (but not Alinea), accept reservations for free at

                Enjoy your visit, and feel free to ask more questions!

            2. re: ays89

              I would also suggest Taboun Grill in Skokie or West Rogers - Israeli style middle eastern but very good Schwarma and Falafel - they are also kosher so they will close early Friday and will be closed on Saturday -

              Taboun Grill
              6339 N California, Chicgao, IL

              Taboun Grill
              8808 Gross Point Rd, Skokie, IL 60077

      1. Please, please, please leave River North for Middle Eastern! Come to Albany Park. Largely middle eastern residents and fab food for a great price!

        Faves include Semiramis for Lebanese, Noon o Kabob for Persian and Salam. Salam is the most casual of the three, but the other two are casual as well.

        Hop on the Brown Line towards Kimball and get off at Kedzie and you're in the middle of it all right there at the train. It'll take about 25 minutes from River North, but it's well worth time.

        Salam Restaurant
        4636 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

        1. There's a good strip on North Clark with several Middle Eastern restaurants beginning just south of Foster and extending to just north of Bryn Mawr (Reza's and Andie's are the two biggest but there are others). Also, Middle Eastern Bakery/Grocery (Foster just west of Clark) is definitely worth a stop (deli, baklava-type pastries, spinach pies, dates, fresh felafel) as is Pars Grocery at Clark & Berwyn (everything Persian). BTW Reza's has a branch in River North on W Ontario.

          1. You definitely should travel a bit further north to Albany park. Semirami's is delicious and BYOB. The atmosphere is also great. THere are several choices on Kimball Avenue.

            1. Does anyone know of any know of any good Middle Eastern restaurants on the southwest side near Midway. I have noticed a lot of Arabic signs along Harlem and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for this area.