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  • Taboun Grill

    Post #1 - March 19th, 2008, 11:13 am
    Post #1 - March 19th, 2008, 11:13 am Post #1 - March 19th, 2008, 11:13 am
    Taboun Grill, with only a few passing mentions, certainly qualifies as a place that does not get LTH love. I think it rises above simple inclusion into that thread and deserves a thread of it's own, more LTHForum attention, and some serious consideration as a destination restaurant.

    Taboun Grill is an Israeli restaurant (with some Moroccan dishes as well). It is on of the few CRC-certified kosher restaurants in Chicago.

    Last night, after an attempt to eat at Hashalom (where I dine regularly, but can't seem to remember that they're closed Tuesdays), Cookie suggested Taboun. "Same kind of food (Israeli/Moroccan)". We were both surprised that we've never been there, but Hashalom pulls me in with little effort.

    I have very little negative to say about the food at Taboun (and I'm upset that I didn't carry my camera last night). The spit of roasting chicken shwarema dared me to try not to order it--it was as beautiful as any al pastor cone I've seen (we were having an early dinner, so I'm sure I was one of the first portions sliced off the spit that night). It was juicy and spicy with crispy edges that made the meal. It was distinctively flavored to the point that I'd have no problem picking it out of a lineup. I can think of few, if any, chicken shwarema's that I've enjoyed this much.

    Cookie's kefta, prepared in little football shapes, were good but rather aggressively seasoned for her taste. I liked them, but Taboun clearly has a heavy hand with spices that might not be to other tastes.

    The meat isn't the only thing that I enjoyed.

    --The pita is fresh, hot and unique in it's "puffiness". I was perfectly comfortable eating it dry, without any of our baba ganouj.

    --The pickles and beets brought to every table are delicious. Sour pickles and sweet beets make a nice combo--I ate the whole plate.

    --I loved the grilled onions (unsliced half onions, cooked until soft on the grill) and grilled tomatoes.

    I really found myself wanting to come back as soon as possible. (Next time, I'll have my camera).

    Taboun is also interesting because it's a restaurant that truly serves its community. It's located in Chicago's most concentrated Jewish neighborhood (both Cookie and I grew up here and know it well) and it is clearly a focal point for the community of all types of Jews in the area (from Orthodox to Reform to Secular), even including ex-pat Israelis. It's one of those restaurants that give you an immediate view into the heart of a community. I really hope more LTHers check it out, it's a rare, special mix of very good food in a true neighborhood restaurant.

    The restaurant is BYOB, closed Saturdays and Fridays 2 hours before sundown, and the cost of meat dishes does reflect the relatively higher cost of kosher meat. There's a small parking lot just to the south of the restaurant.

    Best,
    Michael

    New address, California location closed
    Taboun Grill
    8808 Gross Point Road,
    Skokie, IL, 60077,
    847-965-1818



    http://www.taboungrill.com

    Hashalom, I still love you.
  • Post #2 - March 19th, 2008, 11:29 am
    Post #2 - March 19th, 2008, 11:29 am Post #2 - March 19th, 2008, 11:29 am
    I have very little to add, other than to second the recommendation that people give Taboun a shot. When I was living on the south side I only made it there about once a year, but they really do an outstanding job with their meats. I like the agressive seasoning and nice charring that makes an appearance, and count me among those who find nicely prepared kosher meat to be a real revelation.

    The people-watching/peek into the neighborhood really is a study in itself. Now that I live just a couple of miles south I'm going to make a point to visit more often.
  • Post #3 - March 19th, 2008, 12:20 pm
    Post #3 - March 19th, 2008, 12:20 pm Post #3 - March 19th, 2008, 12:20 pm
    I concur - there are times where kosher restaurants are given short shrift as destination for dining - but I have to say Taboun Grill that I have never had a bad meal there - it does get crowded but well worth it -
  • Post #4 - March 19th, 2008, 3:11 pm
    Post #4 - March 19th, 2008, 3:11 pm Post #4 - March 19th, 2008, 3:11 pm
    Yes, I like Taboun a lot, even for the food :roll: :wink: I think the one drawback, for me at least, has been the price. It's just a bit more expensive than other places like it. I don't really need the premium which is the CRC certificate.

    Here's what I wrote long ago on Leffburg:
    Taboun Grill - Israeli food
    Israel has always had a bad wrap for food. I mean from a tourist perspective. A lot of that, I think has to do with low quality beef. Avoid the McDavid's. Does that mean the food of Israel is really bad. On my lone trip, I found nearly all of the meals outstanding, especially the multitude of stuffed vegetables at a Yemenite place and the multitude of stuffed falafel sandwiches, everywhere. For those, chose at will from a tons of salads, from countless street vendors. My opinion of Israeli food is also futzed up by an especially good restaurant in North Miami Beach run by Israeli's. From them, I expect every other Israeli restaurant to have superior fresh cut fries and bowls full of sour pickles for the taking.

    I enter Israeli places with that prejudice, but I also soon find myself at ease entering any Israeli place. I believe, but could be wrong, that there is something relaxing for nearly every American born and raised Jews when they enter a room filled with yamulked men. Outside of a pledge party for ZBT, are there any other settings where you feel more comfortable with your Jewishness? (On the other hand, my wife, felt totally il-at-ease, expecting stones to be hurdled her way any minute because she was wearing a sleeveless dress.) On top of this, your kids are no longer, by a long shot the worst behaved, and even if they were being particularly poorly behaved, no one would hear much of their commotion over the rest of the commotion. Finally, it gives a Jewish man special pride to be served by a slew of dark haired, dark skinned stunning waitresses, who also know how to take apart and put back together, an Uzi while blindfolded. Portnoy would not complain.

    So how bad could the food be? Not bad at all. I will say up front, I think the prices are pretty high at Taboun, much more than they should be. I wondered if Rabbinic supervision costs that much more, and my sources in the kosher community tell me kosher meat even at the market costs a lot. Still, what they served us was very, very good. We split two first courses, a smallish Moroccan salad and a largish bowl of Yemenite soup. The soup was greenish yellow, like lakewater, with a taste of odd spices (not like lakewater). A dose of very hot, hot sauce (zug I think it is called), not only heated up the soup, but it amplified the other ingredients. Fresh vegetables helped a lot too. Forget the color, order the soup. Fresh tomatoes so different from nearly every other restaurant's fresh tomato highlighted the salad, a blend of tomatoes, red bell pepper and spices, mostly cumin. Taboun Grill was not buying their tomatoes from the same consortium that nearly every Mexican, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, Indian and Thai restaurant.

    The Condiment Queen and I and one of the kids got sandwiches. The other kid opted for the very non-special, chicken nuggets. The sandwiches featured a very light and fluffy pita, and I mean that as a compliment. I got mine with some kefta (minced meat) balls. Ms. VI got a veggie combo with eggplant and Hannah got turkey shwarma. All of our fillings mostly served as foils to the other stuff inside the bread, sauce and salads and whatever. A real mess, but a real treat.

    Service, besides being beautiful, was efficient and fast. Very fast, they really get you your food quick for a place with table service, although with all the din, lingering was not that important. They also did a good job of keeping me hydrated, as a long day wandering Devon sucked most of the liquid out of my system.

    Now, the fries were nothing special, not fresh made. No pickles graced our table, neither before the food, nor after the sandwiches arrived. Still, when you wake up the next morning with the flavors still parading your palate, well you want to return.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #5 - March 21st, 2008, 3:51 pm
    Post #5 - March 21st, 2008, 3:51 pm Post #5 - March 21st, 2008, 3:51 pm
    taboun is a really good restaurant, whether you keep kosher or not. i'll also note that notwithstanding that there are some uber religious folke=s frequenting the place, whether i've come dressed up or casual has never been an issue in the least.

    as for the prices, they're comparatively a bit high. that's not just for the "Rabbinic supervision costs" and higher cost of the kosher meat. it's also because the restaurant is closed for shabbat, which sadly happens to cover the two biggest money making nights for any restaurant, fri. and sat. i'm sure that's one of the reasons that shallots closed up shop in its high rent district clark st. location. rent in rogers park is no doubt more reasonable, so taboun at least can charge high prices as opposed to the ridiculously high prices that cam with the otherwise excellent shallots.
  • Post #6 - January 22nd, 2009, 10:10 am
    Post #6 - January 22nd, 2009, 10:10 am Post #6 - January 22nd, 2009, 10:10 am
    eatchicago wrote:I really found myself wanting to come back as soon as possible. (Next time, I'll have my camera).

    But I'm betting you haven't in the last 10-months.

    Let me back up a bit, I recently had lunch at Taboun Grill, liked everything I ate, in particular aggressively seasoned nicely charred kefta, Matboucha, a spicy mix of pureed tomatoes, and grilled boneless chicken thighs. Gratis pickle/beet mix hit the spot and the potatoes in the Yemenite Soup were so insanely creamy I should have asked to the type.

    Service efficient in a no nonsense fashion, room utilitarian, but comfortable, no fumbles whatsoever in the meal. The reason I'm guessing you have not been back, and I probably won't for a while, is price, an easy 30% additional over long time favorites for similar, though not exact, offerings. Though I might have to mix and match, moist beautifully charred Cornish Hen at Al-Khaymeih, Moroccan Cigars and Israeli salad at Hashalom and falafel, hummus at Salam.

    Gratis Pickle/Beet

    Image

    Moroccan Cigars

    Image

    Matboucha

    Image

    Grill Combo

    Image

    Grilled Chicken Thighs in Pita

    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #7 - January 22nd, 2009, 10:17 am
    Post #7 - January 22nd, 2009, 10:17 am Post #7 - January 22nd, 2009, 10:17 am
    G Wiv wrote:The reason I'm guessing you have not been back, and I probably won't for a while, is price, an easy 30% additional over long time favorites for similar, though not exact, offerings.


    You're right, I haven't been back, and the cost does play a part in that (also, the number of meals available to dine out have been significantly decreased this past year by my growing family).

    Nevertheless, every time I drive by, I think about their chicken shwarema. I haven't had many that equal it in flavor.

    Nice photos.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #8 - January 22nd, 2009, 12:20 pm
    Post #8 - January 22nd, 2009, 12:20 pm Post #8 - January 22nd, 2009, 12:20 pm
    this is one of our "go to" places. we don't keep kosher, but my wife and I spent most of our life in israel. we like it a lot better than mizrahi grill
  • Post #9 - January 22nd, 2009, 6:52 pm
    Post #9 - January 22nd, 2009, 6:52 pm Post #9 - January 22nd, 2009, 6:52 pm
    globetrotter wrote:this is one of our "go to" places. we don't keep kosher, but my wife and I spent most of our life in israel. we like it a lot better than mizrahi grill


    We've been to Israel several times too - I think of Mizrahi Grill more like a high quality shwarma stand, crossed with an "al ha-aish" quick serve grill restaurant, and Taboun as being more like what you'd get in a more formal sit-down restaurant that serves Middle Eastern food there. It's an inexact comparison, but I'd be curious what your reasoning is. We don't keep kosher either, but I'd take either place over most of the Middle Eastern restaurants in the city, except for maybe Semiramis or Kan Zaman in the right mood.

    This comparison will mean nothing to people without serious Israel experience, but Mizrahi is more like what you'd see at, say, a less formal place on Tel Aviv's Ibn Givrol vs. Agenda in the Tel Aviv Port (http://www.restaurants-in-israel.co.il/ ... aspx?id=64), which is marginally closer to what you have at Taboun. Neither's as good, but this is Chicago, not the Middle East. I'd take pick Humus Asli or Darna in Manhattan over either, but both of our other Chicago Israeli choices are better than Hashalom quality-wise. Regardless, I'd kill for a place as good as Susanna in Tel Aviv's Neveh Tzedek neighborhood (http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Mi ... -BR-1.html), or the Darna Moroccan restaurant in Jerusalem (www.darna.co.il).

    To my taste, Mizrahi's food, particularly the turkey/lamb shwarma, is seasoned more to the level that you'd expect in Israel, and certainly the importation of their shwarma rotisserie from Israel, having items like "pargit" (baby chicken) kabob, and selling unique Israeli beverages like Malty lends them authenticity points. I do feel that the quality is higher at Taboun for beef and mixed grill, and for a "leisurely" dinner (Sunday night aside), Taboun's a better choice.
  • Post #10 - March 11th, 2009, 6:01 am
    Post #10 - March 11th, 2009, 6:01 am Post #10 - March 11th, 2009, 6:01 am
    It looks like they're opening a Skokie branch. It will be at 8808 Gross Pt Rd. Next door to FedEx Kinkos at Dempster & Gross Pt.
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #11 - March 13th, 2009, 2:10 pm
    Post #11 - March 13th, 2009, 2:10 pm Post #11 - March 13th, 2009, 2:10 pm
    i'll be the 100th person to add, food was good but the price was too high.
  • Post #12 - April 24th, 2009, 8:44 pm
    Post #12 - April 24th, 2009, 8:44 pm Post #12 - April 24th, 2009, 8:44 pm
    Dave148 wrote:It looks like they're opening a Skokie branch. It will be at 8808 Gross Pt Rd. Next door to FedEx Kinkos at Dempster & Gross Pt.


    It is now open - larger space than ther Rogers Park location and the food is just as good -
  • Post #13 - September 24th, 2009, 1:51 pm
    Post #13 - September 24th, 2009, 1:51 pm Post #13 - September 24th, 2009, 1:51 pm
    Taboun was completely off my radar until an Israeli friend recently recommended it. I stopped in the Skokie location for a quick recon/take out falafel. The falafel itself was absolutely terrific, easily the best that i have tried in Chicago. The rest of the sandwich was good also. I ordered it with everything, hot and was given the usual fluffy israeli pita, salad, hummus treatment. I am not sure if a more extensive topping selection is available or offered.

    Anyway, given the excellence of the falafel itself, I am suprised thay Taboun isnt given more love here.
  • Post #14 - September 24th, 2009, 3:40 pm
    Post #14 - September 24th, 2009, 3:40 pm Post #14 - September 24th, 2009, 3:40 pm
    They also have an excellent authentic shawarma and the hummus with sauteed mushrooms turns a staple into something pretty special.
  • Post #15 - September 24th, 2009, 8:25 pm
    Post #15 - September 24th, 2009, 8:25 pm Post #15 - September 24th, 2009, 8:25 pm
    Personally I have never had a bad meal at Taboun either the one in Skokie or Rogers Park
  • Post #16 - December 6th, 2013, 5:13 pm
    Post #16 - December 6th, 2013, 5:13 pm Post #16 - December 6th, 2013, 5:13 pm
    I ate here Tuesday evening & will be back for sure. Hummus, falafal, babaganoosh(sp), Mediterranean beef cigars, the pita bread, Israeli salad, chicken schwarma, green beans in tomatoes, the grilled onion, all top notch. Prices for this food is reasonable. The beefs on the menu are pricey by comparison and we didn't get any; if the beef portions are ample & tasty then by Chicago beef prices they're not too bad. It's BYOB & there's a Binny's right next door. Note though that for wine you can only bring in Meshuval kosher wine. Binny's know exactly what you need; we bought an 11.99 Zin 15.5% alc., that was fine. Apparently they don't care about beer or spirits. The restaurant inspects the wine before they open it for you. No corking fee. Very friendly. Great service. 5 of us ate for $80 including tax & tip + the $28 we spent on 2 bottles of wine. We were stuffed.
  • Post #17 - June 4th, 2014, 4:08 pm
    Post #17 - June 4th, 2014, 4:08 pm Post #17 - June 4th, 2014, 4:08 pm
    Northbrook location now open:
    3111 Dundee Rd.
    Northbrook, IL 60062
    (847) 272-7378
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #18 - August 7th, 2019, 7:33 am
    Post #18 - August 7th, 2019, 7:33 am Post #18 - August 7th, 2019, 7:33 am
    Taboun Grill, Skokie. Healthy, quick, tasty = lunch. #lowslowbbq #countmeafan #taboungrill #hummus #falafel

    TGrillP1.jpg Taboun Grill
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow

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