Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, July 12

Gapers Block

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Naz / October 31, 2003 11:14 AM

I don't miss it that much, I might have a year ago but it's still a shame nonetheless that Java Cha is no longer around. Now I have to go to Chinatown to get my bubble tea.

bubble tea chmiel / October 31, 2003 11:19 AM

Naz, I didn't realize that they'd closed, but you can get bubble tea at a dozen places around Argyle. Go North, young man, Go North!

Naz / October 31, 2003 11:36 AM

I forgot about Argyle, the Northside's Chinatown.

j3s / October 31, 2003 11:36 AM

About six years ago there was an all-vegan restaurant in Chinatown, Vegetarian Garden or something like that. They had a menu organized into "beef" and "chicken" and "pork" sections, but without any meat, egg, or dairy. The owner was this really nice lady who displayed next to the cash register an 8x10 picture of her with Mel Gibson when he came in the restaurant. I hear they've reopened elsewhere, but until I eat there myself, I'll take that as just a rumour.

amyc / October 31, 2003 11:41 AM

I really miss the Village Cafe on Roscoe, which is now the much snootier Italian joint La Mora. Village Cafe was a friendly, warm place with good pizza slices and fabulous panini sandwiches.

I also miss the old Amitabul on Southport. They moved way up north, but changed their menu so much that all my favorite dishes are gone. Farewell, Oceans of Health soup!

Naz / October 31, 2003 11:44 AM

Jes, I ate there last night. She's back in full effect at Mark's Chop Suey House, 2901 N. Broadway. I was in heaven. It's a dream come true: vegan Chinese!

brian / October 31, 2003 11:51 AM

I miss Green St.

One thing to consider: do we miss the places or the memories we had in those places? Do I really miss Green St. Cafe, or do I miss the memory of being 20 and arguing politics and poetry with friends in my nascent college years?

It does seem to me that there are fewer cooler coffeehouses now than there were 10 years ago, but they still can be found and hell, I doubt the dive bar will ever fully be pushed aside by chains.

Oh, and jes and naz, you've been to Amitibul, right? They have good vegan chinese too.

Naz "Food is life" H. / October 31, 2003 11:57 AM

Amitabul is Korean though. Like Amy mentioned, I've been, when they were on Southport.

Phineas / October 31, 2003 12:21 PM

I miss Amitabul a lot. Also, there used to be this Greek joint (oh, it was totally a joint... officially I think it was called 'Gyros on the Spit' but I don't know of anyone ever calling it anything other than 'The Greek Place') on Broadway, a bit south of Belmont. They closed a few years ago after having been there for 27 years. Consequently, there will always be a saganaki sandwich-shaped hole in my heart.

miss ellen / October 31, 2003 12:28 PM

what's up with vegetarian places closing?

vegetarian express gourmet down on the south-west side was great - totally vegan, as well. just couldn't make it, i guess.

Seth Zurer / October 31, 2003 12:32 PM

I miss Ciral's House of Tiki - hyde park's finest and only tiki bar. The food was poor, and the atmosphere unhygienic, but the drinks were strong, and they came (if you were lucky) in glasses emblazoned with voluptuous naked ladies on the outside and upwards of ten shots of rum on the inside, and the clientele was friendly.

I also miss Lem's on 59th St. It's 75th St cousin is just as good, but they closed before I had the chance to try them both in one night, side by side, to do a proper double-blind taste test.

j3s / October 31, 2003 12:49 PM

Yes, Seth! That Tiki place kicked ass, I used to stop in after work way more than I should have. Happy hour became happy evening...

atomly / October 31, 2003 12:56 PM

Almost as bad as a restaurant closing is moving away from one. Man, I'd kill to have a vegan mock italian sausage hoagie from Pizza Luce in Minneapolis right now. That thing is so amazing.

Or what about a place like Jinx that closed and then re-opened a few years later and now can't even hold a candle to its previous self? The vegan sandwiches and snacks they used to have were so amazing, it's too bad they don't anymore.

Also, I'm intrigued by this Mark's Chop Suey place. If it really is the lady from Vegetarian Garden/Asia Cafe, it should be awesome. Was it all seitan?

Andrew / October 31, 2003 1:13 PM

I was at the faux-meat Chinese place back on January 31st, 1999 -- the day before the blizzard -- for one of the coldest meals of my life. The restaurant had no heat, so what little warmth there was was generated by the stove. We ate in our coats and gloves -- but the food was great!

I miss Cafe Voltaire, which was the previous tenant where Orange now is. It was a mostly unexceptional coffeeshop, but you could hang out for hours, the vibe was great and they had weird experimental theater in the basement. If you were an under-21 suburban kid, it was a place you could hang out and still feel cool and urban.

Cinnamon / October 31, 2003 1:44 PM

Ah, Como Inn! Old,old, old school Italian. Came up when Capone was a teenager and stuck around until a few years ago. Now it is condos. The grandsons of the original owners opened Como on Milwaukee across from Iggy's, and its beautifully modern.

But, there was something just wonderful about Como Inn. But Brian might be right that it is the memory of many Valentine's Day dinners, and romantic glasses of wine over Pasta with Bolognese, cold seafood salad, and beautiful chocolate mousse that I like. But the place was beautiful. Sigh!

Now, I'm just trying to support all our little independent neighborhood places so they don't disappear.

amyc / October 31, 2003 1:49 PM

Brian, I think part of the missing is the memories, but sometimes it's all about the food. I have yet to find a panini as tasty as the ones at Village Cafe -- even though it was just bread and tomatoes and mozzarella. Robey Pizza down the block makes a panini with the exact same ingredients, but it just isn't as good. The bread's chewier, the tomatoes are sliced thinner, the balsamic is sloppier. Sigh.

stephen / October 31, 2003 3:42 PM

I miss the coffee shop that was in the space Filter is now in on Damen & North. Its cool that Filter (and my favorite Half & Half) still challenge the star*ucks there but that old place used to have a lot of cool jazz performances. And I'm not so great on Filter's smoke anywhere thing. While I'm for personal freedom, smoking inside public places is a tough one.

Luke / October 31, 2003 3:42 PM

Good point, Brian. I miss Yesterday's in Evanston, even though the food was shit. But when the dorm cafeterias closed each Sunday, Y's was the place to go for burgers, fries and "The Simpsons." I definitely miss Sunday nights in college much more than the burgers themselves.

There used to be a chain bagel shop next to the McDonald's in Evanston, and I miss it, too, because it was where my Mom and I ate when we rolled into town for the first time. And I miss the Caribou on Southport, because it's where my buddy and I always went when I was visiting from California and we hadn't yet been enlightened to the plight of the independent coffeehouse.

As mentioned, I miss Gold Coast Dogs, though I went there only once. I almost wish they'd demolish it already and put up another luxury River North monstrosity. Seeing the great giant wiener on the side of the building, gallons of mustard squirting onto the sidewalk, just makes me sad. Also, La Cumbamba and the Dellwood Pickle.

But it should be noted that for all the departures, there are occasional welcome arrivals. Not every lost storefront is being converted to a cell-phone store or Starbucks. I'm very excited about Viet Food Court, and Scooters and Sweet Occasions are both top-notch places for frozen delights. Huey's knows how to treat a hot dog with respect. And the Handlebar keeps alive the spirit of the La Cumbamba space it occupies.

Luke / October 31, 2003 3:55 PM

Oh! Oh! And Yum Yum's, at Wrigley Field. No longer can I grab a good-luck donut on my way into the park.The Cubs lost both NLCS games I attended this year, as well as more than 80 percent of the 20-odd regular-season games I've been to since the Tribune Company canceled Yum Yum's lease to make room for a still-unbuilt parking structure.

Coincidence? I think not. Nevermind the Billy Goat. The curse of the cruller is on!

amyc / October 31, 2003 4:39 PM

Oh! The Dellwood Pickle! Thanks for that reminder, Luke. God, I loved that place. The food, the crayons, the first time I went there with Jim...

Onid / October 31, 2003 5:42 PM

Amen Cinnamon. The new Como is modern and pretty good but the old Como Inn was like going back in time. You could imagine some old gangsters in a corner talking business. That added something to it I think.

dce / November 1, 2003 8:59 AM

In high school, my hipster friends and I used to visit the Atomic Cafe on Sheridan, and then amble next door for a late night show at the Village North.

It's since been replaced with a Starbucks.

daruma / November 1, 2003 12:58 PM

Busy Bee by the el tracks at Damen and North (now the gross blue car diner). Bento by the el tracks at Clark and? Roscoe(now the gross Texas Star Fajita bar)? Sanko on Clark near Addison (now the gross trendy clubby bar Tryst).

pedrag / November 1, 2003 5:02 PM

it's not really a restaurant but the dry cleaners at the corner of 55th and woodlawn. i miss that goddamn place.

Benjy / November 1, 2003 6:55 PM

In this list of mournful passings, some good news to report for those we fear the loss of the city's hot dog stands. While the old Gold Coast Dogs closed a while back, they recently opened up a new location on Clark just north of Fullerton.

paul / November 2, 2003 10:44 AM

I miss the Wells Street Deli, on Wells and Huron. It was far from sterile, smelled a little weird, but this breakfast and lunch greasy spoon had one of the best char-grilled 1/2 burgers in the city.

It was a victim of a Subway, opening directly across the street.

Murgatroit / November 3, 2003 9:58 AM

I miss Scenes cafe on clark south of belmont - now the home of Caesars Mexican restaurant, which proclaims to have the best margaritas in town. I often find that there's a converse relation to how good a restaurant claims its margaritas are to how it's food is.

On the Clark and Belmont cafe note, I also lament the passing of the Cafe Voltaire of old too. On the bright side, the Pick Me Up is still pretty fantastic.

Andrew / November 3, 2003 10:40 AM

Pick Me Up: eh.
Scenes: Their turkey-baked brie sandwiches were *amazing*. Caesar's is a poor replacement, indeed.

Niki / November 3, 2003 11:27 AM

I miss Siam Corner (now an Irish pub). Also miss La Piazza. It's now a Starbucks, so that sucks big time.

Greg / November 3, 2003 2:54 PM

No one's really mentioned the obvious. I never actually ate at Demon Dogs, but last winter every morning I would huddle inside with a half dozen other commuters, all of us very grateful for the Demon Dogs sign inviting us to wait for the Fullerton bus in DD's warm interior, no purchase neccesary. Granted, I'd miss the place a lot more if I still took the Fullerton bus every morning at 6:30 am... but nonetheless, it saddened me to see it go, but did warm me to see the line of customers stretching out down the block on their last day before the CTA shut them down on Halloween. Such solidarity for a little hot dog stand!

Ray / November 3, 2003 3:32 PM

I miss the Busy Bee, a little Polish restaurant that used to be on Damen next to the Blue Line stop in Wicker Park. Who can forget the Polish Combination Plate, an absurd amount of sausage, pierogis, etc for cheap, served by nice, though hurried, Polish ladies. And I met a girl there that I ended up dating for a couple of months...great eye contact from across the counter. Sigh.

Ian / November 4, 2003 9:57 AM

I'm not sure if it's actually gone, but they were closed on Saturday night, and they're supposed to be open 24/7...Taco Burrito Express on Halsted near Wrightwood...RIP.

LD / November 4, 2003 11:43 PM

I dearly miss Brick's Pizza on Lincoln, just south of Armitage. Crispiest crust! Also, it was the only place I've found east of the Mississippi to get Fat Tire beer, brewed in Ft. Collins, CO.

miss ellen / November 5, 2003 9:04 AM

ahhhh, Fat Tire - I wish I could find it here. such a good brew!

JRC / November 6, 2003 2:38 PM

I miss the Blackhawk Lodge on Huron. Before our daughter was born, it was a nice place to eat on a winter night before going to a play. Once Zoe came along, it was a great place to take her for a fancy Sunday brunch -- very friendly, with a toy chest and a bluegrass trio to keep her entertained.

Not to mention the doughnut holes.

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