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Fuel

Andrew / May 30, 2003 2:57 PM

Stand-outs will be highlighted in the Drive-in section of the front page.

Naz / May 30, 2003 3:17 PM

Damn, a tough one indeed. But more often than not I am either at Joy's Noodles and Rice or Noodles in the Pot (run by the same people with the same menu, etc, different name). I'm quite happy to have lunch there at least three to four times a week.

miss ellen / May 30, 2003 4:15 PM

i've been meaning to send this to you guys, but i LOVE the think cafe on western & can't say enough good things about the food, the staff/owners, the specials, etc.

it's a little BYOB, with lots of love. just recently i tried the "think brunch" & it's a chefs' table; basically, it changes every week depending on what's in season, what the chef feels like cooking, etc. you get your choice of food from the table(s), plus an omelette of your choice, if you so choose.

amyc / May 30, 2003 5:35 PM

Is it possible to pick just one restaurant in this food-tastic town? If you held a gun to my head and made me choose (please don't, though), I'd have to go with Victory's Banner on Roscoe. It's a pity they only serve breakfast and lunch, because I would eat there three meals a day if I could. The food -- all vegetarian -- is plentiful, fresh and made with love. The chai is homemade. The decor is sunny and tranquil. The omnipresent photos and music of Sri Chinmoy can be a little creepy, but the people who run the joint could be devil worshippers for all I care -- they make the best omelets in town!

kathleen / May 31, 2003 12:17 PM

Well, it has closed, but I loved La Cumbamba on Western in Wicker Park. Great Colombian food, great atmosphere, great Sangria. It was a set meal and you never quite knew what you were eating, or how much it was going to cost, but it didn't matter. Come back William, we miss you.

Currently, I like Gennaro's on Taylor St. a lot. It's noisy and friendly and the gnocchi can't be beat.

Kevin / May 31, 2003 12:24 PM

La Cumbamba rocked my world from the day it opened and I celebrated many an occasion there. Sad it is closed.

I like the Silver Cloud for some reason. I'm a sucker for a place that'll let you have a grilled cheese, coffee and a cigarette all at the asame time.

Also, the Bite (next to Empty Bottle) on Western and Cortez is incredible. The menu is creative and suprisingly good all the time.

Alejandra / June 1, 2003 9:35 AM

I will forever love and be faithful to Lula Cafe (located in Logan Square -- around the corner from Rinky Dink.) Nothing compares to their weekend brunch and nightly dinner specials.

The staff is great (damn, they even know me by name) and the food is always delicious, fresh, beautifully presented with innovated twists on classic dishes. They also buy all of their produce and meats from local, organic vendors.

+mojan. / June 2, 2003 9:12 AM

Tiffin on Devon Street is a dream. Go there hungry so you have additional room for appetizers, dessert, and a tall drink of mango lassi.

But if you have no money, go to Pita Inn in Skokie! $2.12 will buy you the best falafel sandwich you've ever eaten.

Man, I'm hungry.

jen / June 2, 2003 10:49 AM

so many great cheap eats depending on my moods but hands down it's River Quay for late night asian food hankering. the portions are 2day affairs and so fresh, light and flavorful. plus the ambience is great b/c there virtually is none.

Soul Vegetarian when i can.

Alex / June 2, 2003 11:46 AM

KiKi's Bistro. Hands down. Everything is always just right at Kiki's. I'd suggest the rabbit rillettes and pommes frittes.

lacey / June 2, 2003 12:02 PM

I'm with Naz on Joy's Noodles. I also vote for Andie's on Clark in Andersonville. It's a great date restaurant--the atmosphere is fantastic, the service is great, and the food is great (Persian-Lebanese food; I highly recommend the vegetarian pastichio). In the summer, they open the window-walls to the sidewalk. Wonderful.

But I'm all over some Pita Inn. You know it.

Joe / June 2, 2003 12:19 PM

I second Lula Cafe. Fresh ingredients, friendly staff, and the best brunch in the city.

They also have the best carrot cake in the explored universe. It's not made there (the woman who makes it sells her wares at farmer's markets downtown on Sundays too), but it's the only carrot cake I've ever really loved, and they give big, fat slices of it. Yum yum yum.

If you live anywhere near Logan Square (which I would define as within 60 miles or so), go!

http://www.lulacafe.com/

kegz / June 2, 2003 12:47 PM

If you have the cash and the occasion, Atlantique on Clark in the south end of Andersonville is awesome. They cook fish I've never heard of and it's all damn good.

If you have neither the cash nor the occasion, my favorite diner is Mac's restaurant at Higgins and Cumberland where you exit the Kennedy. Also corn beef sandwiches from Elliot's at Nagle and Gunnison. Not healthy, but soo good.

pj chmiel / June 2, 2003 12:58 PM

Sorry, I have to go with the old "pick three":

Chicago Diner (on Halsted) for American...
Alice and Friends (on Broadway) for Asian...
and Soul Vegetarian (on 75th St) for Soul!

I agree that Tiffin on Devon is heavenly, as are Arya Bhavan, Udupi Palace, and Mysore Woodlands. Lula Cafe is also wonderful.

j3s / June 2, 2003 2:51 PM

My fave depends on my current craving mood.

For Thai: Thai Eatery on Western. It feels like you're in someone's kitchen, but nothing on the small menu is even mediocre: good stuff! Plus they'll take requests for special dishes, and "medium" is actually pretty hot.

For sushi: Sai Cafe. Their white tuna sashimi melts on your tongue. Mirai is also excellent, but too expensive to patronize regularly.

For French: Cyrano's on Wells. The food is excellently prepared and presented, the wine list is well-rounded and surprisingly reasonable, the wait staff is knowledgeable, and I always seem to get comped something.

Soul Veg and Pita Inn are also awesome, but have already been mentioned several times.

brian / June 2, 2003 3:19 PM

Those of you who mentioned "La Cumbamba" - go back. It's just as funky now as it was, even though it's totally different. The new place is called "The Handlebar" and has a major bicycle theme. The food is top-notch vege fair, though they have a bar, a patio, and some fish too. Cheese plate is killer.

If you like Pita Inn (and I *love* Pita Inn), then you have to try The Olive Mountain in Evanston. Neither in Chicago, so they don't count.

My favorite place to eat in Chicago doesn't have a name: it's pulling up to a corner and stopping for a burrito. All similar, each one different. I (heart) the Urban Food Log.

sr / June 2, 2003 4:47 PM

all of these places have a few things in common:
-staff with a genuine interest in the food and views service as a noble calling
-something delicious on the menu i can't get anywhere else
-truly vegan food (it's not just an analog, or hold-the-meat-and-cheese-please).

alice and friends for the red bean paste lady fingers and korean bbq. (byob)

ethiopian diamond for well, ethiopian. (don't forget to order some tej)

the sweet tamarind for mee krob and tamarind curry. (byob)

sEn^ / June 3, 2003 7:46 AM


When I'm in the right mood (really hungry, right?), Geja's Cafe on Armitage is my absolute favourite. Something about cheese fondue and wine makes me very happy - the rest of the meal is just as wonderful. Too expensive + too filling to be a frequent occurance - but none-the-less excellent.

Shylo / June 3, 2003 9:06 AM

The hummus at Reza's is just to die for.

I'm glad this topic is up. I've felt like I've been in a food rut lately.

Any good cajun or cuban?

Andrew / June 3, 2003 11:16 AM

Cuban: Rancho Luna at 3357 W. Peterson is awesome.
Cajun: It's a car-required trek, but the Maple Tree Inn in Blue Island (way south side) is amazing. I can't wait to go back...maybe it'll be a Chicagobloggers field trip one of these days.

Craig / June 3, 2003 12:07 PM

For funky atmosphere and good eats I really like the Lucky Platter in Evanston on Main Street.

"The Lucky Platter restaurant of Evanston (1 mile north of Chicago) serving and catering funkalicious post-Hippy eclectic world cuisine. "

http://evanstonillinois.net/luckysite/

Post-hippy is a great term.

Kris / June 3, 2003 1:06 PM

Shylo, Café 28 at Irving Park and Ravenswood is excellent Cuban.

Y'all have named a bunch of my favorites already, so here are a couple of recommendations I've gotten lately but haven't been able to try yet: Stanley's Kitchen, at Lincoln and Armitage. One of my fellow Southern refugees says they have the best chicken-fried steak she's had in the city. And then another pair of friends swears by a tiny Italian place called La Tavernetta that opened six or eight months ago on Broadway and Wellington. I'm trying it tomorrow night.

brian / June 3, 2003 3:36 PM

Second the reco for Cafe 28. Like most places in Chicago, the portions are so huge as the suffice for lunch and dinner the next day.

And don't miss the mojitos.

jima / June 3, 2003 4:45 PM

Since you said "Chicagoland," let's highlight one of the worthy out-of-town spots: New Rebozo in Oak Park. Excellent Mexican food, attractively presented, and with serious levels of heat (when it says hot on the menu, you better believe it's hot). The chips are warm, the salsa is homemade, and the owner greets all guests as his close personal friends. He brings mock-ups of the evening's specials over to your table, to show you the elegantly presented entrees. Make sure you leave room for dessert; the flan is the creamiest in Chicagoland. (Yes, we've checked.)

Adrian / June 3, 2003 8:02 PM

Mia Francesca on Clark Street, just north of Belmont. Excellent Italian food. And you can't go wrong with Pizzeria Uno.

Marc / June 4, 2003 11:25 AM

I'll second Café 28 and Joy's/Noodles in the Pot.

For pizza, I love Pizza Metro on Division.
For their tempura green beans I love MOD by the crotch.

jocelyn / June 4, 2003 11:42 AM

la scarola on w grand. what it lacks in elbow room it makes up for in portions. and garlic. and flavor. try the escarole if you're deeply loved or plan to sleep alone.
penang in chinatown. beef rendang, roti canai.

susan / June 4, 2003 1:31 PM

I second the recommendations for Penang, Rezas, Tiffin and Chicago Diner. Other favorites: Las Pinatas on Wells (margaritas!), Hema's Kitchen off Devon (but only if you're cool with little kids pawing through your purse), Frances on Clark, and Kabuki Sushi (largely because of the sake pot). Orange on Clark is fun for brunch, if you're into that sort of thing. And for anyone in the suburbs, gotta go with Arbor Vitae Java and Juice in Naperville (but I'm biased).

I'd love to hear any recommendations for a good Italian place, especially northern Italian.

brian / June 5, 2003 9:30 AM

Susan, Pizza B.O.C. (I think that's the name) on Lawerence just east of Lincoln is fine Northern Italian fare. Pizza with arugula and cherry tomatoes, mmmm.

Mark Beemsterboer / June 6, 2003 10:28 AM

I once had an Italian Beef that was so delicious that the hapless diner that produced my meal was treated to my unstoppable bellowing of its praises. Heads turned, others ignored me in the manner of any wise city dweller that spies a crazy man on the street, and I shoved my way to the shop's shabby counter and shook the Man's hand, the hand that prepared my sandwich. I touched his hand and smells became colors, and the walls blew away, and fronds of Oregano were under my feet. A voice from nowhere and everywhere filled my head, and said, "You gotta eat it with a knife and fork, is so messy."
I don't remember where the little sandwich shop is, aside from its location at an intersection of three streets, which of course could be anywhere. Life as not been the same since.

Jimmy / June 6, 2003 11:02 AM

I like Ruby Tuesday's in Schaumburg.

BCH / June 14, 2003 8:56 PM

http://www.fractalspin.com/lmk/webfolio/riverkwai/
A nice fansite of sorts for the wonderful River Kwai.

I also recommend Nua Hoa Cafe for reasonable and righteous Vietnamese. Located on Argyle three or so blocks east of Broadway, look for the lions and wacky decor on the left.

Can't imagine that this joint is a secret - - Sultan's Market on North Avenue in Wicker Park for get-it-fresh-in-five-minutes Mediterranean.

stephen / July 1, 2003 5:01 PM

Good idea..

La Creperie, on Clark just north of Diversey..one of the best places in the city, hands down. Go there now.

Mama Desta's, also on Clark, for wicked spicy hot stuff..plus you can get huge African beers to counter it..

Star of Siam, on Illinois, some of the best Pad Thai around..

Orange, for brunch, also on Clark..

Spring, on North Ave, if you feel like dropping some cash but being VERY well treated..

Chicago Diner, up on Halsted..very creative.

Feast, on Damen, again some creative stuff and a great brunch joint too..

and finally,
Pizza Metro on Division for the garbage slices.
Hang with some borderline mafia guys.

stephen / July 1, 2003 5:03 PM

Shite, forgot the new pimpin' style of Cafe Laguardia on Armitage. Get the Pollo del Diablo and get to it.

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