Early restaurant finds in our new home: Chicago

It’s been just over a month since we moved from Des Moines to Chicago, although it seems longer, and we’ve had time to try just a fraction of the restaurants tempting us in our new neighborhood, Lincoln Park. Here’s my favorites to date:

  • Cedar Palace, on Armitage – offering the middle eastern food I couldn’t seem to find in Des Moines (although I did find it in Iowa City, thank you Oasis Cafe). Great hummus, falafel, shawarma, a middle eastern salad. Now all I need is take out hummus that is as good as Oasis’s. I’ve tried three duds from supermarkets here. (Kaufman’s deli in Skokie has good hummus, but not nearby…also excellent corned beef.)
  • Gemini – our neighborhood fancy pants place but no fancy attire required (just fancy prices and dishes). Great swordfish (my aunt’s find!), Caesar salad, ahi tuna tartare, flatbread.
  • All too well – strangely named but terrific sandwich shop on Armitage next door to Evette’s (and owned by the same folks) with excellent sandwiches. Evette’s offers an intriguing mashup of Mexican and Middle Eastern – pretty good too.
  • Green Tea – how we’ve missed Japanese food and here it is, right around the corner on Clark. We went for lunch and had a bento box special with chicken katsu, panko-dipped shrimp and maki and a cooked salmon and salmon skin (yum) rice bowl.
  • Chengdu Impressions – we’ve been here before. It’s a favorite of our kids’ who live in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood but we tried a new standout dish – braised pork belly with scallion pancake. To our surprise, the pancake didn’t arrive intact, as a wrapper for the pork. It came in crispy cooked slices added to the pork belly mixture. Yum.
  • Athenian on Webster, off of Halstead – This place is a throwback, open since 1972, cash only (they take gold coins!), no liquor license (but you can buy drinks next door.) The food and service aren’t that amazing BUT the chicken Kalamata is to die for, reminding us of the baked lemon chicken that was a specialty at Santorini, our favorite Greektown restaurant in Chicago which sadly closed.
  • Marge’s Still on Sedgwick – atmospheric Old Town bar with good pub grub, (“hand held food”) including a big juicy cheeseburger and a grilled turkey burger with feta, tzatziki, red onions on pita. The music was way too loud for me but after one beer it didn’t bother me as much.
  • Andy’s Thai Kitchen on Diversey – An old haunt and still the only place I’ve ordered and loved “pork neck” as well as basil pork belly.
  • Dom’s Market – true confession: we haven’t eaten there yet but wandering around was enough to sell me on going there as soon as possible. A new one is opening up nearer to us on Wells soon!
  • Brown Bag – easy nothing-fancy fast foodish but healthyish seafood chain, good in a pinch.
    • In the not-so-good category: Blue Door Cafe on Halstead. Lovely decor with an open air southern veranda feel but mediocre food.

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