Chicago, this beautiful, magnificent city, has long been known for its wide variety of excellent restaurants across a wide array of ethnic and national cuisines. This month let us take some time to visit and enjoy a multitude of dishes from several different kinds of cuisines.
Our first stop will be Thai Aree, a small, out-of-the-way restaurant in the Avondale neighborhood, located at 3592 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, just south of Addison. (773) 725-6751. Here we’ll find very authentic Thai recipes, carefully prepared by the owners, and cheerfully delivered to our table. Everything is always quite fresh, with the crispness and tang that separates Thai from Chinese cooking. The heat level will be adjusted to your preference, and even if you like it (as do I) exceedingly hot, all the delicious flavors come through. The food is amazing, the service excellent, and prices are more than reasonable. I highly suggest that you first ask for a recommendation, this will always get you a satisfying meal. My personal preferences include the Spring Rolls appetizer, Cucumber Salad, and something such as the Panang Curry. You may prefer the Chicken Satay, a bowl of soup, and perhaps the Pad Thai. No worries, it’s all good. Really, really good.
The Blind Faith Cafe, 525 Dempster Street • Evanston, IL 60201 • (847) 328-6875 is the premier vegetarian restaurant in all of the Chicago area, and well worth a visit even if you are not strictly vegetarian. If it is still the Lenten season when you read this, Blind Faith will be an excellent choice for your meatless Friday meals. Try the Flautas, corn tortillas filled with roasted potatoes, caramelized onions and feta cheese, served crispy and drizzled with sour cream. Follow that, perhaps, with a bowl of the Dumplings in Shiitake Consomme’ soup, Eastern European dumplings and Japanese Shiitake mushrooms in a French style consomme’. How’s that for a worldly dish? It might sound confusing, but it’s quite delicious. Deciding from among the entrees is a difficult task, but I can personally recommend the Enchiladas Verdes and the Spinach Lasagna, and can’t wait for my next visit to try the Shiitake Walnut Loaf (or will it be the Fettuccini Alfredo?) The dessert is perhaps the best part of this meal, baked right in house, and the baker has that special way with chocolate. Double Chocolate Cake, served with raspberry sorbet, is a little bit of heaven for any chocolate lover, and hey, Tiramisu. Or Creme Brulee, or…you get the picture. http://www.blindfaithcafe.com/
Another recent discovery is Zad, 3910 Dempster Street, Skokie, IL 60076. The word “Zad” in Arabic is commonly used to mean “food” in the Holy Scripture, according to their website, and what excellent food it is. Our visit was on a Lenten Friday, and the meatless meals we shared were nothing short of amazing. The Hummus appetizer was very good, the pita fresh, with good, chewy texture. Our first entree was the Falafel Platter, served with rice, a delightful mixed salad, and pita bread. The falafel was excellently seasoned and perfectly fried, a real treat. Next up was Mujadara, a traditional recipe of rice and lentils, topped with caramelized onions, with their homemade yogurt. This dish was savory, with a bit of tanginess, and quite filling. The yogurt was smooth, creamy, and with a taste that hinted of lemon. We finished it off with the finest Baklava, one made with Nutella and pistachio. It’s flaky and sweet, of course, delicious and satisfying. If you’ve never tried Middle Eastern food, try it here first. https://www.zadbypitainn.com.
Let’s not forget Fat Willy’s Rib Shack. They use their own smokers, their own selection of woods, and have long explored the nuances of this style of cooking so that the flavor profile comes through in every bite of the just right brisket, ribs, pork and chicken they serve. The sides are really a cut above most BBQ places; it’s not just mac ‘n cheese, it’s “Baked Four Cheese Macaroni” while the corn bread has green onions and is served with honey butter. My favorite is the Pulled Pork Dinner, but you won’t go wrong with the Spare Ribs or Brisket, or anything else, for that matter. You will be happy you came here. 2416 W. Schubert Ave. Chicago, (773) 782.1800, http://www.fatwillys.com/.
In sharing these great locales with you, I encourage everyone to visit them, bring your appetite and please let them know you found them on these pages. Bon appétit!