Restaurants In Chicago: Middle Eastern
This article describes five of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in Chicago. Includes recommendations for specialties of these restaurants as well.
The Chicagoland area seems to have become a bastion of Middle Eastern food. Whereas you previously had to travel into the city to find delicious falafel and hummous, the suburbs are now populated with many wonderful Middle Eastern restaurants as well.
The following is an overview of what I consider to be amongst the better of the Middle Eastern restaurants in Chicago and its suburbs:
1. Pita Inn. The Pita Inn is a great place for newcomers to Middle Eastern food. Located in both Skokie (the original location) and Wheeling, this is a fast food restaurant with a very limited, albeit delicious menu. At lunchtime, for just $3.99, you can try their heaping combination plate that includes three different types of meat as well as rice, salad and falafel. The entire menu, in fact, is very low-priced, and the food is very fresh. One word of warning: the Skokie location is almost always packed, so be prepared to wait. The Wheeling restaurant is quicker, but does not have quite as much atmosphere.
2. Old Jerusalem Restaurant. This family owned and run restaurant is my favorite for good, home-cooked Lebanese food. The location is great - right in the heart of Old Town, making this a great place to start your Saturday night. Remember to bring your own wine or beer; they'll provide the glasses and corkscrew. My recommendation: try the baba ghanouj. It has the perfect blend of garlic and smoky flavoring.
3. Salaam Restaurant. Located on Lawrence and Kedzie in Chicago, this storefront restaurant is completely devoid of atmosphere. However, if you can get past that, the food is great. This is the place where the Arabs love to eat, so you know the food is very authentic. Ask for the special of the day and you'll get a delicious plate laden with basmati rice, meat and vegetables. There will be plenty for tomorrow's lunch as well. Very reasonably priced.
4. Kan Zaman. This restaurant is located in Andersonville, which now boasts a large number of great Middle Eastern restaurants. I have chosen Kan Zaman over some of the more popular restaurants largely due to atmosphere. There are areas where you can sit on the floor behind a curtained area to enjoy your dinner, as well as traditional tabled seating. This dimly lit Jordanian-owned restaurant gives you the feeling that you are in the Middle East. The menu is very eclectic, and the food is fabulous. My recommendation is Lubia, a Middle Eastern green bean dish not often found in American Middle Eastern restaurants. One warning about Kan Zaman's food, however, is that they use a heavy hand with garlic in their food preparation. You might want to sample some of the appetizers before ordering.
5. Sahara. This restaurant also has wonderful atmosphere. Not so well known yet, this Lincolnwood restaurant has terrific food. Sahara's menu is extensive, and is great for vegetarians. My favorite is their Cousah Mahshi, which is zucchini stuffed with rice and seasonings. It's fabulous! The service is very good, and the portions are fairly generous. A very satisfying dining experience.