February 15, 2009

Zaleski and Horvath MarketCafe on 47th

Anyone who's lived in Hyde Park long enough develops a habit, when talking about local restaurants, of diluting praise with qualifications until you don't know whether you're saying something positive anymore. "Yeah, it's pretty good--I mean, you know, it's Hyde Park, so the waitstaff is surly and inefficient...Yes, it's consistent--for Hyde Park. I mean, if you want some decent carry-out, it's...well, it's fine."

Now, there are some decent places to eat in Hyde Park, no doubt about it. But rarely can you say anything good about a local restaurant without adding, "...for Hyde Park", as if we know that the same restaurant on the North Side or in the Loop wouldn't deserve the approbation.

But there's one eatery for which I can give proud, undiluted, unqualified praise. Zaleski and Horvath MarketCafe, located at 1126 East 47th Street, offers fantastic, fresh food that would pass muster in any Chicago neighborhood. Z & H is both grocery store and deli, offering fresh meat, cheeses and bread, as well as specialty and imported items. Their sandwiches will make you forswear Jimmy John's or Subway's--try The Butcher's Wife, an excellent take on the classic Italian sub with an overload of toppings--mortadella, hot coppa, salami, provolone, onion and tomato on french bread. Also try their wonderful coffee. They have great deli platters for parties, as well as bag lunches and other catering options.

The only complaints I have are the deli's lack of seating space and slowness. The former is really the consequence of the establishment's small size, but they can be somewhat slow filling orders. Still, it's so far been well worth it.