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The Unbearable Blandness of Broadway: a long kvetch.

The Unbearable Blandness of Broadway: a long kvetch.
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  • The Unbearable Blandness of Broadway: a long kvetch.

    Post #1 - October 11th, 2005, 1:50 pm
    Post #1 - October 11th, 2005, 1:50 pm Post #1 - October 11th, 2005, 1:50 pm
    * This is not a theatre review, though it could be.

    For professional reasons I have found myself in the neighborhood of Broadway and Wellington virtually every night for the last several weeks. (Insert the double-entendre of your choice here.) Normally I pack a snack or sandwich, but looking about me I thought I ought to do some exploring. Here, after all, appeared to be dozens of small storefront eateries of varying geographic and ethnic origins (perhaps "pretensions" would be more accurate) cheek by jowl, just waiting to be sampled.

    Perhaps a li'l Lincoln Sq., a mini-Milwaukee Ave., or a diminutive Devon, just waiting to be noticed.

    Certainly it's a hip, young, busy neighborhood - just south of Belmont, just north of Diversey and just between cross streets with a nice mix of rentals and expensive condos. Just the demographic mix to support exotic, bold flavors from around the world.

    Not so much.

    This is anything but a comprehensive survey. Even as a sample it lacks any statistical validity or integrity. It is simply the brief account of one man's failed hunt for a tasty spoonful of...anything.

    The territory in question is small, but densely populated; bounded on the north by Belmont, and on the south by, whatever is 2 blocks south of Wellington. Oakley. Let's call it so and move on.

    With only 30 minutes to choose, order, eat and return to work, I strode out purposefully onto the narrow, teeming, twisting thoroughfare.

    I was not in the mood for the acceptable but overpriced known quantities obtainable at Stella's or The Bagel. I wanted something new, at least new to me.

    New Tokyo? No way. Had a thoroughly unrewarding meal there once a while back. Random, unfamiliar, storefront sushi places decorated in faux black lacquer like 70s hair salons? Pass.

    Not aiming too high. Not seeking the holy grail. Just a decent plate of something. Say, stir fried noodles. OK, there's Bamee Noodle. This had the additional attraction of my recollecting (wrongly, as it turned out) that it was part of the Program-Formerly-Known-as-I-Dine - so that I could hedge my bet with a rebate.

    Clean, spacious and doing a decent business, the initial signs were neutral at worst. This could be decent, workaday Ameri-Thai. Not looking for pork neck, fish maw or Issan sausage. Just freshness and a bit of flavor.

    Seated quickly. Order taken pleasantly. Ordered egg roll (because I have a weakness for anyone's eggroll, anywhere any time. I just like eggroll). And, something with a name implying that it's a signature item: Bamee Deluxe, or Bamee Special Noodle or something.

    The eggroll arrive and appear to be freshly fried. Not held and warmed over. A bit greasier than ideal, but not bad. Nicely stuffed with glass noodles and bits of this and that. Nice crunch from the wrapper, nice texture from the noodles. Only one problem: no flavor. At all. None. Not just no seasoning, but no flavor of any kind. As if the flavor had been removed by some dastardly scientific process. It was like eating with your tongue still numb from the dentist. You're aware of weight and pressure; something is in your mouth. But taste nothing.

    Then the noodles arrive and it goes downhill.

    A generous portion of noodles with a nice quantity of medium sized "marinated" shrimp, carrots, scallion, etc. Served on a sizzling metal plate. The hot metal reduced the special sauce to a sweetish brown gum. The egg noodles are limp and slightly grainy like overdone whole wheat pasta in healthfood restaurants. Again, with the exception of the cloyng sauce, no flavor is emitted by any individual ingredient.

    As I sit despondently chewing, a steady stream of people come and go, picking up carry-out. They appear to be regulars.

    Who, in a city and neighborhood offering such a profusion of possibilities would do this twice, let alone regularly?

    The next night, undaunted (well, maybe a little), I set out again. I look into a burrito joint. The unbelievable-in-this-day-and-age racist caricature of a sombrero-wearing buck-toothed Mexican on the sign outside is enough to give me pause. The patrons--all strapping young men with turned around baseball caps and girls talking loudly and gesticulating wildly on cell phones finishes the job. I move on.

    I have a nice homemade sandwich with me, so I decide that a bit of soup would be nice. I hit The Soupbox. Good Lord. Not interested in either the fat or heavy meat content of 90% of the offerings (beef stew, lobster bisque(!), cream of asparagus), I settle on vegetable.

    Again, I don't delude myself that I'm going to get Soup Nazi level soup. I do not fantasize that there are chicken carcasses and fresh vegetables simmering slowly in the back. But I am still amazed. For $5 I get 12 oz. of low-end coffee shop level vegetable soup. The broth is thin and flavorless. (I suppose the apparent absence of corn starch is a plus.) The vegetables have that slightly rubbery near crunch that marks the infinitesimal technological advance in veggie freezing since the school cafeteria mush of the 60s. For $1.99 on sale, I can get a 15 oz. can of Progresso with 5 times more flavor.

    Yet a colleague, when she saw my Soup Box bag, launched into an unsolicited pean. They let you mix any of the soups you want! (Just like at Baskin Robbins.) They give you a big hunk of bread! It's so great!!

    How can this be? Why? Artisinal has some nice things, but I don't always want $16/lb. Basque salami. Just a decent grilled cheese for $3.50 would be nice. A small family Thai place, even with the recipes watered down a bit - but with still some aroma, some lemongrass, garlic, ginger, basil, coriander, etc. You can buy it at the Jewel and throw it in the pan.

    Why not? I say, why not?
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #2 - October 11th, 2005, 2:13 pm
    Post #2 - October 11th, 2005, 2:13 pm Post #2 - October 11th, 2005, 2:13 pm
    I work near that area & also find myself there often for lunch. It's not the best stretch of food to be found in the city but there are still pretty decent eats to be had.

    New Peking is a fairly unremarkable Chinese place on that stretch serving up the usual homogenized Chinese fair. However, they do serve a couple of dishes that you don't normally fine. They have Ja-Jiang Myun and Champ-pong (spellings are my own - no idea if there's a 'correct' spelling), which you usually find in places that cater to Koreans. Both are noodle dishes. The former with a black bean-based sauce and the latter in a spicy, seafood broth. New Peking's versions are not best in class but still pretty good.

    Rice Box serves up good bento box-style eats. A lot of Korean options, including bibimbop. It's nice to have kalbi & kimchi for lunch in the middle of Lakeview.
  • Post #3 - October 11th, 2005, 2:17 pm
    Post #3 - October 11th, 2005, 2:17 pm Post #3 - October 11th, 2005, 2:17 pm
    New Peking just didn't look promising, but based on that rec., I'll definitely stop in.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #4 - October 11th, 2005, 4:05 pm
    Post #4 - October 11th, 2005, 4:05 pm Post #4 - October 11th, 2005, 4:05 pm
    Mark, there are a couple of good options in the immediate area that come to mind after having lived within a block of there for almost four years now. It is NOT a chow worthy neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination. But, there are more than a few good options within a short walk of that intersection.

    This is a neighborhood full of recent grads. So, you'll find some decent food in some of the bars. One of the better bar food joints, located at Broadway and Oakdale, is Avenues Tavern. Really good burgers, solid sandwiches and good chicken wings. Nice beer, too.

    Just a block west, you'll find Select Cuts on Halsted between Diversey and Oakdale. Their burger was named one of Chicago's top 5 in that same article that named Paradise Pup as a top 5. Their speciality is steaks, chops and ribs.

    Slightly up the street is Erwin Cafe. It's on the expensive end. But, I've eaten many a single dinner at their bar.

    Bammee Noodle is an abomination. Better Ameri-Thai can be found at Joy's Noodles in Boystown on Broadway near Melrose.

    With a few exceptions, you should avoid East Lakeview Chinese. Pingpong on Broadway near Lakeview serves tasty though inauthentic Chinese dishes in its cramped dining room. Yen's on Clark between Diversey and Surf serves the best, though completely unremarkable, Chinese American in the general vicinity.

    Just up the street from Yen's, Tex Mex abounds at Nuevo Mexicano which is capable of dishing up some nice enchiladas and such. No cemitas or calabeza in this neighborhood. Avoid all of the Burrito joints in that vicinity.

    Another poster noted that there is a growing contigent of Korean in the neighborhood.

    One of the better options in the hood is Renaldi's for a New York Style Pizza slice (or more) on Broadway near Diversey and Surf.

    Stella's really tries to dish up comfort food in a diner setting, sometimes with success, sometimes not.

    Le Creperie on Clark near Diversey really seems to pack them in as does Duke of Perth on Clark at Oakdale.

    The newly opened Eatzi's may provide you a bit of diversity in the Century City mall. The have some nice cold pasta, chicken and seafood salads until 10 pm.

    Down toward Lincoln Park on Clark, you'll find the much more unique Aloha Grill and a good egg n burger joint in Frances Deli.

    As for Soup Box, I've been disappointed with nearly everything there except their Lobster Bisque.
    Last edited by YourPalWill on October 11th, 2005, 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #5 - October 11th, 2005, 4:34 pm
    Post #5 - October 11th, 2005, 4:34 pm Post #5 - October 11th, 2005, 4:34 pm
    nohana is good for cheap, fresh sushi. they also have one of the only salmon teriyaki's that i've ever thoroughly enjoyed. the plum wine is rather sweet but mighty good, too.

    Nohana Japanese Restaurant
    3136 N. Broadway
  • Post #6 - October 11th, 2005, 5:23 pm
    Post #6 - October 11th, 2005, 5:23 pm Post #6 - October 11th, 2005, 5:23 pm
    It's a little bit east, but at Wellington and Sheffield (basically kitty-corner to Pompeii) is a little cafe called Pane's. They make excellent sandwiches (the Oaxacan pork is my favorite), very tasty pastas and salads and fabulous desserts. Karen, the owner, used to be a pastry chef (at Soul Kitchen, if I'm not mistaken). It's also very reasonable. Certainly worth the three block walk east for a sammy, a monster cookie and a rosemary-garlic boule to take home.
  • Post #7 - October 11th, 2005, 8:23 pm
    Post #7 - October 11th, 2005, 8:23 pm Post #7 - October 11th, 2005, 8:23 pm
    Having just moved from this neighborhood, here are my suggestions--

    Cafe Luigi further south on Clark has the only pizza in this city that even remotely qualifies as NY Style.

    Torajiro on Diversey has good quality sushi in a not so super ambience, but good for takeout.

    Chinese, Yen's is the only reasonable option.
    There's a salad bar/ middle eastern place next door to Yen's on Clark that has a good salad offering, but haven't tried any of the other food. I believe it is called Emerald City.

    Melrose Restaurant on Broadway is better bang for your buck than The Bagel or Stellas, IMHO. Nothing earth-shattering, just diner food. Free cup of soup and bread with most items on the menu.

    Raj Darbar on Halsted is serviceable Indian for the area.

    The only things worth ordering @ Bamee Noodle, for future reference, are the Vietnamese Spring Rolls and the Nam Sod. Combined they make a rather nice light meal for about $6.
    Joy's Noodles on Broadway is much, much better in the Thai-American-Pan-Asian Noodle genre. I enjoy their Drunken Noodles with chicken.

    Bobtail on Broadway has great ice cream, coffee drinks, and even makes a reasonably good grilled cheese, if you're not a dairy-phobe

    AVOID:
    New Tokyo, any Chinese restaurant other than Yen's, Aladdin's on Diversey, Cupcakes ($3 for a dry little gut bomb with greasy buttercream icing. oy. another testament to the power of the trixie/chad dollar)
  • Post #8 - October 11th, 2005, 8:48 pm
    Post #8 - October 11th, 2005, 8:48 pm Post #8 - October 11th, 2005, 8:48 pm
    It's been a few years since I've worked in the neighborhood. But if it's still there, I always enjoyed a simple meal at the Chicken Hut at Belmont and Broadway. Not really adventerous, but I'm just looking for good food.
  • Post #9 - October 11th, 2005, 9:18 pm
    Post #9 - October 11th, 2005, 9:18 pm Post #9 - October 11th, 2005, 9:18 pm
    It's still there, Midas. And its still a pretty decent standby in a neighborhood where pretty decent is about the best you'll find.
  • Post #10 - October 12th, 2005, 9:48 am
    Post #10 - October 12th, 2005, 9:48 am Post #10 - October 12th, 2005, 9:48 am
    This is great. Although my original intent was simply to wonder about the barrenness of that particular little stretch from Wellington to Belmont(rather than a cry for other nearby options), I have in fact acquired a lovely little "to do" list.

    Great to know about good food at Avenues, and decent Chinese comfort food at Yen's. Had no idea about Luigi's or that Ranaldi's might be worth a look. Assumed that Joy's would be completely run-of-the-yuppie-mill, but it sounds a bit better. Ditto Rice Box. Chicken Hut has intrigued me for years with those pretty good looking birds filling the window, but I just haven't made it in. Now I will.

    So, does anyone know anything about a tiny storefront just north of Wellington called, I believe, Cafe Bordeaux?
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #11 - October 12th, 2005, 9:54 am
    Post #11 - October 12th, 2005, 9:54 am Post #11 - October 12th, 2005, 9:54 am
    Well, don't get too excited yet. Luigi's isn't bad, really. It isn't great, either, but it isn't bad.

    Renaldi's IS bad, in my book. But it has its admirers, so you should try it once.

    I lived in that area some years ago. I don't think there was anything that I missed after I moved.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #12 - October 12th, 2005, 10:30 am
    Post #12 - October 12th, 2005, 10:30 am Post #12 - October 12th, 2005, 10:30 am
    Cafe Bordeaux is crepes and salads--usually seemed pretty busy but it opened only shortly before my move to the big bad Bucktown. I'd say give a dessert crepe a whirl first and then go from there--even a subpar dessert crepe will still be full of sugary goodness and (if you have any sense) nutella, so it will still be a bearable experience.

    Also, Sherwyn's on Diversey is a nice health food store, if you're into that sort of thing. No real prepared foods, but you could definitely grab some nice snacks or things to take home with you. Nice selection of dried fruits, that sort of thing.
  • Post #13 - October 12th, 2005, 11:36 am
    Post #13 - October 12th, 2005, 11:36 am Post #13 - October 12th, 2005, 11:36 am
    Having lived just south of there for the past year (Clark & Wrightwood), I'd definitely second Nohana for great-value sushi. My cheap, tasty standbys in the neighborhood were Angela's Burrito Style on Clark (they make the guac right there while you wait), the Pockets next to Weiner's Circle, Gioio's Beef Stand for Chicken Vesuvio pizza and cheese fries, and Tarasca's for strong margaritas and delicious nachos. There's also Fattoush on Halsted by Diversey, which has a simple but tasty assortment of Lebanese dishes but is always empty.
  • Post #14 - October 12th, 2005, 12:07 pm
    Post #14 - October 12th, 2005, 12:07 pm Post #14 - October 12th, 2005, 12:07 pm
    Slightly outside of the borders you proscribed are Ecce, at 3422 N. Broadway, and Koryo, at 2936 N. Broadway (which might be within the area you described). I also second the nomination of PingPong.

    Ecce is a small, BYOB pan-Asian restaurant. Unlike a lot of pan-Asian places, I think they actually do a decent job of tackling a number of cuisines. They do some interesting sushi, a few Chinese dishes, some Japanese, some Thai, some Korean...you get the picture. I wouldn't made a trip to Ecce (or PingPong) if I lived outside the neighborhood, but regularly dine in or get take out/delivery.

    I've only been to Koryo once, but it's a modern or Americanized take on Korean. (In other words, you can actually look in the windows and see people eating.) I had a great dish that I've craving...I think it was a bi bim bop in a hot stone bowl. It made for a terrific meal on a cold winter night, so now that the weather's turned, I'm looking forward to returning there.
  • Post #15 - October 12th, 2005, 12:11 pm
    Post #15 - October 12th, 2005, 12:11 pm Post #15 - October 12th, 2005, 12:11 pm
    No offense to any poster, and I realize that the topic at hand leaves us with a palette of very dull colors with which to work, but I am struck by the fact that Wiener's Circle is mentioned in this parade of mediocrity only once, and as a landmark for finding the local Pockets.

    Wiener's Circle is great. Other than the unique-to-Chicago Aloha Grill, possibly the only destination in the bunch.

    Some NY transpants claim that the area we are discussing here is most like the places in Manhattan where the young and single up-and-comers reside. Yes.
  • Post #16 - October 12th, 2005, 1:03 pm
    Post #16 - October 12th, 2005, 1:03 pm Post #16 - October 12th, 2005, 1:03 pm
    Lakeview East and Lincoln Park are noy terribly unlike the Upper East Side Culinarily.
  • Post #17 - October 12th, 2005, 5:23 pm
    Post #17 - October 12th, 2005, 5:23 pm Post #17 - October 12th, 2005, 5:23 pm
    Geez, you city people are spoiled. You want bland, come out to the northwest 'burbs.
  • Post #18 - October 13th, 2005, 7:24 am
    Post #18 - October 13th, 2005, 7:24 am Post #18 - October 13th, 2005, 7:24 am
    mrbarolo,

    Have you ever made it to Pars Cove? (One of my favorite spots in that area)

    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=37639#37639

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #19 - October 13th, 2005, 8:50 am
    Post #19 - October 13th, 2005, 8:50 am Post #19 - October 13th, 2005, 8:50 am
    Wiener's Circle is great. Other than the unique-to-Chicago Aloha Grill, possibly the only destination in the bunch.


    I'm surprised when someone who lives in Chicago recommends Wiener's Circle (as compared to tourists who read about in guidebooks). I wouldn't walk through the door because I've found it to be a dirty place serving so-so food handed out by frequently obnoxious staff. If this is a "destination" in that part of the city, then that stretch of Clark Street is indeed in trouble.
  • Post #20 - October 13th, 2005, 8:51 am
    Post #20 - October 13th, 2005, 8:51 am Post #20 - October 13th, 2005, 8:51 am
    Those are the good parts!
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #21 - October 13th, 2005, 9:12 am
    Post #21 - October 13th, 2005, 9:12 am Post #21 - October 13th, 2005, 9:12 am
    Bill wrote:
    Wiener's Circle is great. Other than the unique-to-Chicago Aloha Grill, possibly the only destination in the bunch.


    I'm surprised when someone who lives in Chicago recommends Wiener's Circle (as compared to tourists who read about in guidebooks). I wouldn't walk through the door because I've found it to be a dirty place serving so-so food handed out by frequently obnoxious staff. If this is a "destination" in that part of the city, then that stretch of Clark Street is indeed in trouble.


    The staff is not always obnoxious. Only late-night. If you go there for lunch, during the week, service is pretty normal. Their cheese fries are awesome! They don't use that nacho-cheese sauce.
  • Post #22 - October 13th, 2005, 9:14 am
    Post #22 - October 13th, 2005, 9:14 am Post #22 - October 13th, 2005, 9:14 am
    Poppy Z. Brite recently posted of her Chicago trip in her Livejournal blog.
    After Trio and Moto(both for a second time...she wanted to check out Trio post-Achatz) she couldn't wait to stop at Wiener Circle. She laments that she was passed over for abuse in favor of sassier customers. I've just recently gotten back into her work not having read anything since she kinda sorta disappeared after her stint in Horror Show magazine and the subsequent vampire novels in the late-80's. Apparently, she's switched gears to elucidate the behind the scenes of New Orlean's culinary world.
  • Post #23 - October 13th, 2005, 9:38 am
    Post #23 - October 13th, 2005, 9:38 am Post #23 - October 13th, 2005, 9:38 am
    I tend to forgive the WC staff's obnoxiousness because they mean well and have something relevant to offer -- the cheeseburger and fries, eg.
  • Post #24 - October 13th, 2005, 9:50 am
    Post #24 - October 13th, 2005, 9:50 am Post #24 - October 13th, 2005, 9:50 am
    Christopher Gordon wrote:Poppy Z. Brite recently posted of her Chicago trip in her Livejournal blog.
    After Trio and Moto(both for a second time...she wanted to check out Trio post-Achatz) she couldn't wait to stop at Wiener Circle. She laments that she was passed over for abuse in favor of sassier customers. I've just recently gotten back into her work not having read anything since she kinda sorta disappeared after her stint in Horror Show magazine and the subsequent vampire novels in the late-80's. Apparently, she's switched gears to elucidate the behind the scenes of New Orlean's culinary world.


    Totally off-topic, but her two novels that deal with New Orlean's culinary world (Liquor and Prime) are both excellent. Can't say how they measure up to her old stuff as I haven't read it (not really my bag) but I highly recommended these two books.

    On the subject of late-night visits to Wiener Circle, I have no problem with the staff, but I do get a little creeped out by the drunk frat boys who take a little too much pleasure in being able to yell abuse at African-Americans without being reprimanded for it. Maybe that's just me though (and I guess that implicitly is a big part of the whole WC dynamic, at that time of night at least). I do like the food though...
  • Post #25 - October 13th, 2005, 9:54 am
    Post #25 - October 13th, 2005, 9:54 am Post #25 - October 13th, 2005, 9:54 am
    JeffB wrote:I tend to forgive the WC staff's obnoxiousness because they mean well and have something relevant to offer -- the cheeseburger and fries, eg.


    Plus, it's what the people want.
  • Post #26 - October 13th, 2005, 3:58 pm
    Post #26 - October 13th, 2005, 3:58 pm Post #26 - October 13th, 2005, 3:58 pm
    chgoeditor wrote:Slightly outside of the borders you proscribed are Ecce, at 3422 N. Broadway, and Koryo, at 2936 N. Broadway (which might be within the area you described). I also second the nomination of PingPong.

    I've only been to Koryo once, but it's a modern or Americanized take on Korean. (In other words, you can actually look in the windows and see people eating.) I had a great dish that I've craving...I think it was a bi bim bop in a hot stone bowl. It made for a terrific meal on a cold winter night, so now that the weather's turned, I'm looking forward to returning there.


    I would second the recommendation for Koryo's. Having been to many of the more "authentic" hole in the wall places scattered throughout the pain-to-reach-by-public-trans areas of the city, I was at first pretty skeptical about this place when my boyfriend took me there, especially as we had just eaten at 24-Hour Korean Restaurant on Lawrence a few days before.

    But I was pleasantly surprised at how good their food was. I got the dolsot bibimbop, but the real winner was my boyfriend's kimchi noodle soup. Spicy and full of flavor. Huge portions, too. AND, the staff was actually NICE and friendly, unlike the treatment I usually get at Korean restaurants once they realize I'm not Korean.

    Sorry I don't have a more detailed description, but I would recommend checking it out, especially now that it's getting to be soup weather...
  • Post #27 - October 14th, 2005, 7:52 pm
    Post #27 - October 14th, 2005, 7:52 pm Post #27 - October 14th, 2005, 7:52 pm
    I've lived within 2 blocks of ground zero (Wellington and Broadway) for the last 6 years, and in addition to avoiding Chinese around here, you must at ALL COSTS avoid all Mexican restaurants. El Nuevo Buena Vista, between Briar and Belmont on the east side, is the best of the bunch, but I would only have a veggie burrito there. The other places aren't even edible, let alone serviceable.

    Here's a secret that nobody will believe (and why should you believe me since I have no LTH cred) but Chili Mac's at Briar and Broadway has excellent thin crust pizza. I mean excellent. Great tangy red sauce and a crust that is delicately crunchy. And eating outside on that corner under the white Christmas lights is actually quite pleasant. I told you you wouldn't believe me. But unless you actually like Cincinnati-style chili, don't go near anything else on the menu. I've tried to eat the Chili on 2 separate occasions separated by approximately 5 years, and was unable to do it. And I love chili.

    So definitely try out an individual pizza the next time you're around here. But eat it fast because I think it has a shelf life of approximately 9.5 minutes before it gets less than delicious. It has the fastest half-life of any pizza I know, but those first few minutes are quite something.

    Would love to hear anyone else's opinion on this unlikely pizza parlor.
  • Post #28 - October 15th, 2005, 11:20 am
    Post #28 - October 15th, 2005, 11:20 am Post #28 - October 15th, 2005, 11:20 am
    I've been working at Broadway and Wellington for 5 or 6 years now and this is what I've learned: bring a lunch. If I forget or don't have time, Rice Box is OK for it's $5.95 lunch special. On a sad Monday when I forget lunch and Rice Box is closed I have learned the hard way that the best option is a bag of chips from Apple Bite. (I'm sure there is *slightly* better food available but I can't justify spending $10 for lunch every day (especially for subpar food)).
  • Post #29 - October 15th, 2005, 4:25 pm
    Post #29 - October 15th, 2005, 4:25 pm Post #29 - October 15th, 2005, 4:25 pm
    The Melrose, as some others have mentioned, is a slightly-better-than-serviceable East Coast style diner, and was my hangout of choice when I was translating, in longhand on yellow legal pads, a play from 19th Century German during the bitterly cold first few months of 2004. Coffee and cigarettes were the fuels of choice for this endeavor, but sometimes I'd be finished with a particular passage and would notice the early morning, weekday breakfast crowd make their way in, a great mix of drag queens getting off of work and several groups of the last senior citizen holdouts in the neighborhood. Not wanting to hog a table with just coffee and papers and lists of Biedermann-era idiomatic expressions, I'd usually join the fray and order something breakfasty. Here, as in most diners, is where the Melrose is best - substantial, thankfully un-fluffy omelets, fresh muffins and bagels, fruit salad, oatmeal, and not-too-bad at all cuppa Joe. Early morning, especially a cloudy, gray, wet one at the Melrose is also evocative of New York, though not the one mirrored by Mr and Mrs Jetta; more of a 70's, East Village Travis Bickle vibe. Quite nice. As for more substantial eateries around Broadway and Wellington, I do remember having a well above average meal at Casbah, which is on Broadway just south of Belmont, on the East side of the street. Very well executed Moroccan fare - lamb, couscous, tagine, breads, etc... by the Lebanese/Moroccan/Turkish crew and owner/cook. If it's still there, I'd recommend going. Otherwise, I think those who know me know where I stand on that particular pocket of Chicago; I need not refer to my comments from way back about a certain incident. Or, did I just do so? Nyuck, nyuck....

    Reb
  • Post #30 - July 11th, 2008, 8:30 am
    Post #30 - July 11th, 2008, 8:30 am Post #30 - July 11th, 2008, 8:30 am
    hungryrabbi wrote:...I do remember having a well above average meal at Casbah, which is on Broadway just south of Belmont, on the East side of the street. Very well executed Moroccan fare - lamb, couscous, tagine, breads, etc... by the Lebanese/Moroccan/Turkish crew and owner/cook. If it's still there, I'd recommend going.


    We also recently had a lovely meal at Casbah. Tasty and fresh food, accommodating service, and a pleasant atmosphere.

    Casbah Cafe
    3151 N. Broadway
    Chicago, IL 60657
    773-935-3339
    Leek

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