NEWS

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September 25, 2008

The orientation issue Hyde Park dining guide

Bar Louie

5500 South Shore Drive

(773) 363-5300

Despite the name, Bar Louie isn't just a bar. Located in the picturesque Flamingo, this one is really convenient for Shoreland and Broadview inmates and features a smorgasbord of different entrées including sandwiches and tacos.

Bonjour Bakery Café

1550 East 55th Street

(773) 241-5300

This restaurant features coffee and solid, reliable bakery fare. The gourmet sandwiches are good, but a little on the expensive side. All baking, cooking, and coffee-making is done on site, which is a welcome treat. It also features a nice outdoor seating area for warmer weather.

Boston Market

1424 East 53rd Street

(773) 288-2600

What can we say about Boston Market? This one's just like any other one. Features decent home-style fare. Don't eat your Thanksgiving dinner there. That would just be depressing.

Café Coreá

1603 East 55th Street

(773) 363-7742

A smidge pricey but quite good. It's not necessarily authentic Korean fare but is definitely worth a visit. There are only four tables, though, so crowds are not really a factor. Also, their warm soups are a comfort in the bleak midwinter.

Caffe Florian

1450 East 57th Street

(773) 752-4100

Popular with U of C students, this place can get crowded on Friday and Saturday nights. Nonetheless, it's worth a visit for the pizza (warning: you may not be able to finish the deep dish), though the pasta is decent. Florian is run by the same management as Salonica, incidentally. You're either a Med person or a Florian person.

Calypso Café

5211 South Harper Avenue

(773) 955-0229

When February winds are getting you down, the paper umbrella-laden drinks at Calypso will lighten your mood (and your wallet). The side dishes of vegetables and freshly cut plantains or yams are a healthy yet tasty departure from greasy French fries or onion rings. But it's not like this place doesn't have its more fattening fare: Be sure to leave room for the key lime pie.

Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen

1206 East 53rd Street

(773) 324-6227

Cedars is a great intro to Middle Eastern cuisine. Since their move to the more commercial Kimbark Plaza, Cedars has undergone a legitimate revival in becoming not only a thrifty place for students to eat well at moderate prices, but a chic sit-down near the University with great staff and a stylish atmosphere. The menu includes small items (falafel sandwiches, lentil soup, or cucumber salad) and the family-style banquet, great for a house trip or any group of friends. Recommended here: shawarma of any meat—chicken, beef, or lamb.

Chant

1509 East 53rd Street

(773) 324-1999

Boasting the tagline "Asian-inspired global cuisine," one of Hyde Park's newest restaurants offers affordable options, ranging from $8 to $22 on entrées. Chant also features live jazz on weekends.

Cholie's

1601 East 53rd Street

(773) 684-8688

Cholie's is one of the few places in Hyde Park that sells pizza by the slice. It delivers and is extremely cheap, but reaction to their greasy pies has been decidedly mixed among students.

Daley's Restaurant

809 East 63rd Street

(773) 643-8870

Not affiliated with the first family of Chicago politics, this diner has been serving the north Woodlawn neighborhood since 1918. It's worth checking out more for the ambience than anything else, as the food is standard greasy spoon fare. Nonetheless, it does feature a gigantic catfish plate. It closes early, so make plans to go for lunch.

Domino's Pizza

1453 East Hyde Park Boulevard

(773) 324-3800

This place is no different from any other Domino's. It does, however, accept delivery orders until 1 a.m. And there will come a time when you will want pizza at that hour.

Dunkin' Donuts

1411 East 53rd Street

Open 24 hours a day, this is your source for wee-hours-of-the morning munchies.

Edwardo's Natural Pizza

1321 East 57th Street

(773) 241-7960

If you're craving reasonably priced Chicago-style pizza close to campus, head over to Edwardo's. The Italian chain offers gooey, "award-winning" stuffed pizza smothered in cheese and sauce, as well as other dishes like thin-crust pizza, salad, lasagna, and calzones. For an appetizer, try the delicious bruschetta. The restaurant is suitable for a family or friend gathering—not a romantic date.

Giordano's

5311 South Blackstone Avenue

(773) 947-0200

When the rest of America thinks of Chicago's food, they think of one thing: deep-dish pizza. Giordano's has single-handedly defined what America knows as "Chicago deep dish." Its pies are as thick as they come, where the "toppings" are actually stuffed inside glorious layers of crust, cheese, and marinara sauce, producing pizza that quite deservedly receives national accolades as the best pizza in America. You can almost always get a table at the Hyde Park location. Unfortunately, Hyde Park's Giordano's is aesthetically deficient, but fear not—they deliver. Of course, if you go there, you get the pizza fresh from the oven. A word to the wise: Don't believe the serving sizes on the menus. Although Giordano's claims a small stuffed pie serves one to two people, we have yet to see a man who can eat a whole small pie; most can't make it past two slices.

Harold's Chicken Shack

1208 East 53rd Street

(773) 667-9835

Harold's Chicken Shack is the perfect place for students searching for a nice quiet café to enjoy a cup of coffee and kick back and relax with Immanuel Kant. The lyric little bistro is ideal for an afternoon snack or a first date.

Nah, we're playin'. With its bulletproof glass and nomadic clientele, what Harold's lacks in charm it makes up for in cholesterol. While the menu ranges from fried chicken to, well, a bucket of fried chicken, most patrons generally get the same thing anyway: a half chicken and barbecue sauce. All orders come complete with soggy hand-cut fries, two slices of white bread, a shot of coleslaw, and one paltry, terribly overmatched napkin. During the course of the meal, Harold's crumbly, greasy, luscious poultry is ecstasy for the taste buds, satisfying even the gnarliest of hunger pangs. And at $4.80 for half a chicken and a liter of pop, you can't beat the price. But with the long walk back to the dorm comes the fearful question: "What did I just eat?"

Hyde Park Gyros

1368 East 53rd Street

(773) 947-8229

It's really cheap and is better and more filling than your typical McDonald's/Burger King fare. Check out the Hyde Park burger and the Italian Beef. Get some onion rings on the side, or go for a combo.

Istria Café

1520 East 57th Street

(773) 324-1383

This recent addition to Hyde Park makes an excellent spot for sipping coffee or meeting a friend. The orange-lined building is snuggled underneath the Metra tracks, so the coffee shop will rumble occasionally when a train passes by. But if this makes you feel anxious, just try some of their dee-licious gelato.

Jimmy's (Woodlawn Tap)

1172 East 55th Street

(773) 643-5516

Jimmy's doles out the typical burgers-and-brats bar food along with their liquor. The grilled Swiss is unchallengeable, we are told. Frankly, you're probably not going to go to Jimmy's for the food. If you're under 21, you can't get in, not even just to eat.

Kikuya

1601 East 55th Street

(773) 667-3727

Kikuya serves sushi and other traditional Japanese cuisine in wooden bowls. Meals are $10 to 15 but worth the money. Try the green tea ice cream.

La Petite Folie

1504 East 55th Street

(773) 493-1394

La Petite Folie is actual fine dining brought to Hyde Park. Hence, it's probably not the place you want to eat at a lot when on a student budget (unless you're a Rockefeller). Nonetheless, this is a place to try when the parental plastic is making the payment. The cuisine is classic French. Our recommendation: poached salmon or duck salad.

Leona's

1236 East 53rd Street

(773) 363-2600

Leona's is close to many stores you'll be patronizing frequently anyway, so why not stop in? The huge menu features plenty of organic and fair-trade products, whether you're a carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, or fruitarian. We recommend the ravioli with a variety of sauces and the many excellent wraps. The prices, while high, are justified, as the portions are large enough so that two meals can feed three people. Supposedly a family business, the restaurant has décor that includes plentiful seating and dim lighting. The mom-and-pop theme makes for ironic menu drawings and wall decorations.

Lung Wah Chop Suey

1361 East 53rd Street

(773) 324-0429

Yet another Hyde Park Chinese establishment. Strictly carry-out, there's no place to sit and eat. Known for their ability to turn orders around quickly.

Maravillas

5211-G South Harper Avenue

(773) 643-3155

If you walk all the way to Calypso and it doesn't suit your fancy, go right downstairs and you will find Maravillas. For those looking for something light yet different, Maravillas offers the best Mexican food this side of Pilsen. A tiny but colorful shack with plastic tables and a neon-light sign, Maravillas is a good spot to grab a bite anytime of the day. Popular dishes include $4 giant burritos—both meat and vegetarian, including an avocado burrito—nachos, tacos, and egg and avocado sandwiches. Imported Mexican sodas are tasty, too.

Medici

1327 East 57th Street

(773) 667-7394

Any group (and that means you and eight kids who live on your floor) can agree on the Med. This is an excellent spot to spy on that awkward new couple from your house. While the menu rarely shows strength outside its hallmark variations on burgers and pizza, its selection of milkshakes and other house beverages is delicious but pricey enough that they must mark a special occasion—or a particularly hungry diner. A secret: Breakfast at the Med justifies an early (11 a.m.) Sunday wake-up, especially if you come in warmer weather to sit at the upstairs outdoor patio. The menu offers all sorts of egg breakfasts, quirky pancakes, and fresh-squeezed—you can squeeze it yourself!—orange juice. The morning feasts offer an inexpensive luxury.

Medici Bakery

1331 East 57th Street

(773) 667-7394

Some of the best coffee in Hyde Park, with insanely inventive lids when you get it to go. Also, they put just about anything delicious inside a croissant, which makes it even more delicious. If you don't have time for a whole pizza at the Med, you can grab a slice to go here. But be warned, they have some pricey bread. However, you never know what kind of music (early '90s mix!) the staff will be playing over the sound system.

Mellow Yellow

1508 East 53rd Street

(773) 667-2000

Tired of greasy omelets or pancakes for breakfast? For some of the best breakfast treats in the neighborhood—granted, if you're willing to pay $6 to $10 for a plate—come to Mellow Yellow. The crepes and blintzes are phenomenal, and for those over 21, there is a full bar that serves alcoholic breakfast drinks. Coffee—who needs it? Give me some gin and juice to wake me up in the morning.

Morry's Deli

5500 South Cornell Avenue

(773) 363-3800

Shorelanders tired of their meal plans should look just a couple of blocks down East 55th Street to Morry's, where you can find tasty sandwiches and burgers that won't kill your wallet. Morry's looks much less inviting than its chain competitors like Subway, but don't let its clientele from the home across the street dissuade you from going in. Morry's makes a damn good sandwich, most for under $5, although they have a line of double-decker sandwiches sold at just under $7. Their BLT is one of the best in Hyde Park, and if you don't think a BLT will fill you up, order a number six, one of the double-decker sandwiches; the upper deck is essentially a BLT and the lower deck has turkey pastrami with Swiss cheese—this will leave you full for the rest of the day.

Nicky's Chinese

5231 South Woodlawn Avenue

(773) 324-5340

Nicky's will keep you from starvation but rarely rises above the minimum call of duty.

The Nile

1611 East 55th Street

(773) 324-9499

Come here for reliable Middle Eastern cuisine. It might be the best of the non-Western restaurants located on 55th Street and prices start at $5. You can try it out on campus, as it exports entrées to some U of C coffee shops. If meat is your thing, don't miss the chicken shawarma sandwich.

Noodles, Etc.

1333 East 57th Street

(773) 684-2801

Feel like Asian cuisine, but don't know what to get? Chinese? Japanese? Thai? Or a little of all three? A favorite of the University area, this restaurant serves food the ways college kids like it best—fast, big, and cheap. Service is fine, but expect both restaurants to get crowded and loud quickly. The second location at East 53rd Street recently closed.

Original Pancake House

1517 East Hyde Park Boulevard

(773) 288-2322

As the name suggests, they serve pancakes here. If by "Original" they mean huge and tasty, then the title is right on. The wait can be long and rowdy on weekends. The baked omelets are also as delicious as they are unique. We're especially fond of the bacon waffles. Plan on taking something home; portions are huge.

Orly's Café

1660 East 55th Street

(773) 643-5500

The second coming of the restaurant after a late 1990s hiatus, it spotlights New Orleans cuisine and a revamped dessert menu. They like to brag about their big desserts. Orly's owner also lays claim to the best bagels in Hyde Park.

Park 52

5201 S. Harper Ct.

773-241-5200

The newly opened and vibrantly decorated Park 52 hosts both restaurant and bar, and while it's not the cheapest way to dine out in Hyde Park, Park 52's reasonably priced American bistro-style menu and cocktails make this a nice place to relax or hit the bar.

Pepé's Mexican Food

310 East 53rd Street

(773) 752-9300

It's the lowest common denominator of Mexican food: easy on the wallet and hard on the stomach. They'll periodically offer specials such as five tacos for $6; other than that, it's not worth the trip.

Pizza Capri

1501 East 53rd Street

(773) 324-7777

Often thought of as a reliable default date restaurant, Pizza Capri serves up your familiar Italian-American dishes along with some original classics like pasta shells with salmon and their own Far East chicken salad—both happen to be quite tasty. However, it is a bit pricey. Get a half order of any pasta dish, unless you want leftovers—and try not to fill up on the great bread and seasoned olive oil. They've got a cute ambience, too.

Pockets

1307 East 53rd Street

(773) 667-1313

This one's a Hyde Park staple. You may see cars with Pockets flags driving around campus. Don't get sucked in by the mystique, though—a pocket, already slightly overpriced at $6+, becomes downright exorbitant when you add the $2 delivery charge. If you can make it to the location across from Kimbark Plaza, however, enjoy a fresh and tasty meal that won't send you to the ER for a triple bypass. Calzones are good, too, but be careful: The insides are hotter than James Brown's pants at Freaknik.

Potbelly Sandwiches

5428 South Lake Park Avenue

(773) 493-0129

Part of a Chicago-based chain, they offer standard sandwiches and a variety of shakes and cookies. Sandwiches are small, so they won't actually give you a pot belly, but they do hit the spot on occasion.

The Pub

1212 East 59th Street, Lower Level.

If you need to call here, don't. Great for those of us on the liquid bread diet, with over 20 beers on tap to choose from (they even offer free samples!) and hundreds of bottled beers. Under 21? Sorry pal, go drink some month-old apple juice. Bar food is surprisingly good and amazingly cheap. Stop in on Mondays for wing night. There is a $1 cover for non-members; it's $5 to join. Not open Sundays. A favorite of Maroon staff, due to its proximity (about 20 crooked steps) to the office.

Rajun Cajun

1459 East 53rd Street

(773) 955-1145

Indian and soul food make a strange but shockingly good pair. You can grab chicken fragments and two sides, with a corn muffin, for five and change. Indian entrées are on the spicy side but impossible to ignore when steaming right in front of you. The place is a bit small and dumpy for dining in, but they have box lunches scattered throughout campus, turning noon into Christmas every day. Rajun (pronounced ray-jun) is an indispensable source of cheap, delicious food for the discerning H.P. eater. And if you like your movies to match your food, ask about their fantastic Bollywood selection.

Ribs 'n' Bibs

5300 South Dorchester Avenue

(773) 493-0400

It's sometimes impossible to resist the smell of this H.P. establishment, which carries for what seems like miles. The larger racks of ribs are a complete rip-off, so students without trust funds need to look elsewhere on the menu for satisfaction. There are many good options though, including the bronco cheeseburger (less than $2). The junior ranch hand is a darn fine deal as well. Everything tastes better out of a bucket, and that goes for their chicken, too.

Salonica

1440 East 57th Street

(773) 752-3899

If you need an omelet in two minutes or less, then Salonica is the place for you. Other dishes can take a little longer, depending on how packed the place is at the time. Breakfast is served all day, and many students stick to these options, although they make a mean gyro. Many swear by Salonica, while others swear at it. Salonica is cash-only.

Sammy's

5659 South Cottage Grove Avenue

(773) 288-2645

The outside reads "Beef Gyros Cigarettes," which pretty much says it all. Despite the incredibly greasy menu, the place is full of lab coats from the adjacent UC hospitals come lunch time. Don't they know what it's doing to them? Maybe they do, but it's too tasty to stop.

Siam

1639 East 55th Street

(773) 324-9296

This is the child, sister, or mother restaurant of the Snail, having nearly identical menus with comparable prices. They serve beer, which is good. The name is less off-putting, but the food is no less Thai and tasty.

Snail Thai

1649 East 55th Street

(773) 667-5423

Friendly management and wait staff serve up yet another darn good Thai meal. They've got some interesting décor, making the eating-out experience a little more pleasant. Expect all the Thai standards: no more, no less.

Thai 55

1607 East 55th Street

(773) 363-7119

Another Thai restaurant.

Third World Café

1301 East 53rd Street

(773) 288-3882

We're not sure how pricey tea and brownies really constitutes this place as the third world, but hey, we'll go with it. Their sandwiches, salads, and soups are surprisingly good for a café. And if you wait around long enough, you can snag one of the big, comfy chairs near the windows. (Just don't stay too long or the management might glare at you.)

Valois (See Your Food)

1518 East 53rd Street

(773) 667-0647

No one should graduate from the University of Chicago without having eaten at this Hyde Park institution. (Actually, that's not a bad idea. What about replacing the P.E. test with a Valois meal?) The most famous restaurant in the neighborhood, it's the only one to have a sociology book written about its patrons (Slim's Table by Mitchell Duneier). A classic cafeteria-style diner with a twist—people must wait in a single line to order and receive food from the chefs themselves. This is the best French toast you will ever eat—it's also great medicine when the weather gets rough. The coffee, hash browns, and broccoli cheese omelets are also perennial favorites. The food is super cheap. (No, really. Pick up a few extra dollars, and be amazed at how much cholesterol you can rack up.) Say hi to the church crowd, the friendly vagabonds, or your Hum prof.

University Market (or U-Mart)

1323 East 57th Street

(773) 363-0700

Come here for some great sandwich action and grocery store staples, if you're willing to brave the crazy-high prices. It's owned by the same folks as the Med. The mozzarella sub will treat you right.

Wok 'n' Roll

1408 East 53rd Street

(773) 643-3500

What every cheap Chinese joint place should be: It serves Chinese food, and it's cheap. If that's all you expect from Wok 'n' Roll, you will not be disappointed. The restaurant resembles a DMV more than an eating establishment. The best time to order Wok 'n' Roll is before 4 p.m. in order to get their lunch special, which allows you to get an entrée, rice, and an egg roll cheaply.