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Apr 3, 2013 10:04 AM

Middle Eastern / Asian etc, etc, etc

I used to live and cook in Chicago too long ago to mention but havent been back in almost 20 years.

In town for 3 days in June with brother who doesnt eat meat.
I used to know plenty of places for Vietnamese, Thai etc that we could find something. But things have changed of course.

Staying near Mag Mile, probably get some small bites at Purple Pig, Thinking of Pizza at Lou Malnatis or Pizzanos near by. Will probably be up in Lakeview and Andersonville. Hit the Hopleaf for a few pints. Would love to hear any suggestions for Farm to Table type restaurants or low brow Middle Eastern. I love to eat, love to cook, but a fancy room or attitude alone doesnt make a great time, good food does. I am game for either high end or street food, just good quality.


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  1. Near the Mag Mile - I love Sable for contemporary American small plates. Does your brother eat seafood? If so, GT Fish & Oyster is terrific. Both do great craft cocktails as well.

    Lakeview - Deleece does a great job, with terrific (somewhat contemporary) American food. Very friendly and neighborhood-y.

    Andersonville - Anteprima is turning out some of the best Italian food in the entire city. Very friendly and neighborhood-y.

    All of these are extremely reasonable in price, as well. And all accept reservations (including on Opentable).

    While you're here, check out some of our terrific breakfast-focused restaurants, including M. Henry and Bongo Room in Andersonville, and Southport Grocery and Batter & Berries in Lakeview.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks to all of you for your great suggestions.
      Looking forward to it a lot.

      So many options
      So little time..............

      And I have to agree with the side thread that the more well reasoned opinions out there the better. Dont Flame a place just because you had 1 bad meal, could be someone is sick, just broke up, waiter lost apartment etc could even be the person dining was in a funk or bad mood ?? Never know, but do clearly talk about experiences, positive and negative, share and be constructive.

      Thanks again !!

    2. My favorite farm-to-table venue is near Andersonville (in Lincoln Square) and is called Elizabeth. Option of three different tasting menus and the chef/owner plays a role in procuring much of the food (growing it, foraging for it, fish or hunting for it). The food is outstanding and is such a fun experience; the staff and chef/owner are wonderful people. They have vegetarian options. You purchase tickets rather than make reservation (off their website), but tickets generally do not sell out too far in advance.

      I live in Lakeview and my favorite venues are Socca (Italian/French bistro), Bar Pastoral (upscale wine bar with outstanding cheese and small plate food) and Senza (modern American cuisine - though they are 100% gluten free, the food and service is outstanding and is a wonderful place to dine even if you are not gluten free).

      For Thai, Tac Quick (Lakeview/Uptown border) and Andy's Thai Kitchen (Lakeview/Lincoln Park border) might be good options. I have not been myself, but heard great things about these venues and hope to dine at them some time this year.

      1. Low-brow Middle Eastern = Noon O Kabab on Kedzie
        Low-brow South Asian = Ghareeb Nawaz on Devon
        Vegetarian Indian = Uru-Swati on Devon
        Vietnamese = Nha Hang Viet Nam on Argyle
        Thai = Aroy Thai on Damen
        Farm to Table = Lula Cafe on Kedzie

        1 Reply
        1. re: camusman

          Noon-O is Persian. It's kitty-corner neighbor Salam is Palestinian, it's other near neighbor is Semiramis, which is Lebanese. They each have their strengths. As of late I've been visiting Shawarma Inn, which is Iraqi (and about 2 miles away from the 3 mentioned above). But you can't go wrong hitting up the stretch of Kedzie just south of Lawrence (a number of shops and restaurants and a Pita bakery).

          Speaking of Middle Eastern, my office in the Loop is spitting distance from:
          I Dream of Falafel
          Naf Naf
          Haifa Cafe
          and probably more.

          Falafel/Shawarma is the new black.

        2. You may want to try Farmhouse on W Chicago, it bills itself as a "Midwestern Craft Tavern" and everything is sourced within a few hundred miles. Just ate there for first time last month and really liked it. Some great bites, but I also got my first taste of a Michigan whiskey (I grew up in the mitten so it was nice to see something other than too sweet white wine or the best brews ever from Bell's coming from my home state). Its about a 10 minute walk West of Michigan Ave. Of course I had the cheese curds and the trout was very nice. Sat up at the bar and we had a great time chatting with bar tenders and trying well crafted cocktails.

          7 Replies
          1. re: jbontario

            A second location of Farmhouse is expected to open in early May in Evanston, not too far from Andersonville in the OP's itinerary. More info -

            1. re: jbontario

              We went to Farmhouse a couple weekends ago for brunch and thought it was very mediocre. Cheese curds were meh (I still haven't had good cheese curds - grew up in MN and my gold standard is the MN State Fair's curds), eggs were runny (scrambled) and the burger was pretty bland. My gf went there for brunch a couple weekends prior with her sister and loved it though. Beer/cocktail menu looked good though. Oh, and service was lackluster.

              1. re: mdpilam

                I am bummed you didn't enjoy the curds, but very mediocre--is that even linquisticly possible? I too have had MN state fair curds and the bucket of cookies--actually just this past summer, and I thought Farmhouse's were tasty.

                I am also, however, beginning to discount some of your reviews as you haven't really liked anything in chicago since you moved here. Not every meal is Alinea and not everything is like it was somewhere else. Take things for what they are and enjoy.

                1. re: jbontario

                  That seems harsh. He liked Southport Cafe and La Chaparrita. I give him credit for getting out and trying our recommendations.

                  1. re: jbontario

                    Haha, fair enough. I tend to not go to Alinea type restaurants very often (or 12, 16 or whatever course meals, because I don't eat fish/seafood, and generally don't like being told what I'm eating...), but try to remain objective in my reviews/comments on where I eat.

                    I've only been here 2 months (most recently from DC, but from CA - LA and SF), and do a lot of food research and Chowhound is my main tool. The Chicago board leaves something to be desired. I've noticed that the Chicago board tends to be mostly out of towners asking where to go, and one or two posters replying with a list of restaurants that has been given out time and time again (Alinea, TRU, L2O, Sixteen, Girl & the Goat, etc... and then Lou's or Pizano's for pizza and Al's or Portillo's for an italian beef, and then Bongo Room, Jam, Southport or North Pond for brunch). All of which are probably all really good (I've only been to Lou's, Pizano's, Southport and Al's - all of which I really liked, except Al's italian beef, which I never mentioned on here because I figured I just don't like soggy roast beef sandwiches, and others do). And I definitely don't want out of towners not posting their questions (most do their research too), because sometimes it prompts further discussion. But just because I don't like the same restaurants you do, doesn't mean the discussions shouldn't be had. If I eat somewhere that I think is worthy of a comment or review, then I will post it. If you disagree or have a different viewpoint, I hope that you will post or reply.

                    The point of Chowhound IMO is to inform people about good places to eat, especially ones that would go otherwise undiscovered. It is an alternative to Yelp - where every restaurant gets 3.5-4.5 no matter how good or bad it is. It's a forum to discuss restaurants and food, and each other's opinion on them (which aren't always going to be the same). I whole-heartedly respect you discounting my reviews because you don't agree with them. That's the beauty of CH; you get a lot of opinions on food from people who generally seek out good food. I have tried a lot of places in the 2+ months we've been here, and have written or commented about most. I have loved: Piccolo Sogno, Purple Pig, Los Barrilitos, L' Patron, Viceroy of India, Southport, Batter & Berries. I have liked: Slurping Turtle, Tesori, Edzo's, La Chaparrita, Antique Taco, Wood, Lou's, Pizano's, and Quartino. I thought the following were mediocre: Farmhouse, Sable and Xoco ( though it was bordering on not good). These I thought were not good: Tierra Caliente, Raj Darbar, and Al's Italian beef.

                    I don't always compare things to what I have other places, but I do compare things to what they should be (or what they are purporting to be). Just like when someone claims to make a Chicago pizza or Chicago dog outside of Chicago, you expect it to be done properly, no? One of the reasons I do so much restaurant/food research is that I love eating good food, and I can't eat out all the time, so when I do, I want it to be good, if not great.

                    PS - I did mention that my gf loved Farmhouse the first time, and the second time with me we both thought it was very meh, so maybe they're just inconsistent.

                    1. re: mdpilam

                      Yes, it was a bit harsh, and I don't troll the board here and sometimes go weeks or months with no posts so I missed your approvals of other meals. I think maybe your observation that the Chicago board is much different than the others is why I (and many others) like it. To check out recomendations and other things, but not to tear apart every meal each person eats. I don't use Chow when I travel and I put on over 100,000 miles a year of travel around the country and world. I actually abhor looking at the Bay Area board since its usually dozens of posts picking apart everything. I think food, just like art, is a personal thing for the most part and those not trained in the art of critique (like all the people here or on most public boards) often spend too much time spinning and not just presenting facts. I am glad you've liked a lot of the food you've had here, but not knowing you outside the ether won't allow me to read reports as I would from say Penny, Jeff, or Pat.

                      1. re: mdpilam

                        Please post your opinions on places even if it means starting a new thread--maybe a weekly roundup or something. The more voices and opinions, the better.

                2. For good Middle Eastern snacks in Andersonville, go to Middle East Bakery &Grocery on Clark and Foster. Can't beat it! If you haven't been to the Hopleaf in 20 years, be prepared for some major changes! The food is quite good. I really love the mussels and the CB&J sandwich.