Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
Apr 30, 2012 11:22 AM

Coming from San Francisco and want unusual and unique ethnic eats.

I like trying new cuisines and since Chicago is so diverse I thought I'd ask for suggestions on interesting local ethnic places that are not on the radar in SF. So, I know Chicago has great Mexican but we have lots of it, as well as Thai, Chinese, etc.

I'm thinking more along the lines of Polish, Eastern European, obscure European, African and South American.

Any help will be appreciated!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Just getting the ball rolling. A start.

    Demera - ethiopian - african -bosnian -serbian

    Yassa African Caribbean Restaurant

    Garifuna Flava - belizean

    Sheeba - yemeni

    Jibek Jolu - Kyrgyz cuisine armenian -pretty close to middle eastern

    Icosium Kafe - algerian/tunisian / crepes

    2 Replies
    1. re: gordeaux

      Thanks, sounds like a good list to start.

      Lots' of Ethiopian in SF but little other Sub-Saharan African.

      1. re: vocesf

        South American:
        D'Candela: Peruvian, famous for rotisserie chicken cooked over charcoal; simple but great. Bring along some of your favorite beer (BYOB)
        Rio's D'Sudamerica: also Peruvian, more upscale

    2. Polish:
      Smak Tak
      Andrzej Grill

      1. Lots of African in SF, you know, especially if you're into Ethiopian/Eritrean food. Radio Africa in Bayview is the current It spot for African food in SF, although that also seems to be largely Ethiopian.

        Really fascinated by the Eastern European stuff in Chicago though; aside from a few Russian and Czech places, almost none in SF.

        1. This is not fancy but I have never taken an out-of-towner who didn't like it and it's gut-level Chicago---The Red Apple (Milwaukee just below Belmont, has its own parking in rear). This is a "Polish smorgasbord" with about twenty meats and sparse vegetables but lots of sauerkraut and several kinds of potatoes, an ethnic salad bar with plenty of head cheese and sour cream and beet relish and applesauce---there are pierogies and potato pancakes---Fridays and weekends they throw in carve-it-yourself roast beef, ham, and turkey. Tab runs around $15 for all-you-can-eat. Nice Polish ladies keep bringing more food out hot from the kitchen. Beer available but extra. After dinner you can check out neighborhood shops in this old Polish commercial strip. Avon Liquors sells "Polish Cherry", a traditional cordial. Stop by a bakery and take something home for breakfast. Makes a fun outing and you will be FULL.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Querencia

            Also Podhalanka, right near the Blue Line stop on Division. Try the pierogis and the white borscht.

          2. Oh, I thought of something. There is a place in Chicago called Hot Doug's, where my friend took me. "It is mandatory that you try Hot Doug's," he said. He wasn't wrong; it's amazing. Duck sausage with foie gras on top, rattlesnake sausage, fries cooked in duck fat... There is nothing like it in San Francisco; Show Dogs and Rosamunde don't even come close. Fairly cheap, too, although sometimes there is an eternal line. The locals can probably give you tips about that.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dunstable

              I like Hot Doug's just fine, I guess. I only go when someone comes in from out of town these days as the that line is more or less permanent (unless you show up when they open -- but I just don't want a sausage like that at 11 in the morning). I also don't think the Friday/Saturday-only duck fat fries are that great -- their normal fries are outstanding. Hot Doug's is also a little out of the way unless you have a car. But, yes, the sausages are generally delicious. So if you go, expect a really long wait, a 30-second chat with the nicest, warmest restaurant owner in Chicago and some pretty damn tasty sausages in an out of the way location. Doug's is also cash-only and tends to close for seemingly random days (call/check the website before heading up there).

              Alternatively, you might consider Franks 'N Dawgs, in Lincoln Park. I don't necessarily like FnD more, but it's much easier to eat there and the sausages are still very good. The bun blows Dougs' out of the water, though the sausages overall tend to be too muddled with assorted toppings (they would do well to take the advice to remove one item even when they think they're done).