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Oasis Cafe - Back in its original location

Oasis Cafe - Back in its original location
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  • Oasis Cafe - Back in its original location

    Post #1 - May 7th, 2008, 11:39 am
    Post #1 - May 7th, 2008, 11:39 am Post #1 - May 7th, 2008, 11:39 am
    Some of you may remember the saga where the Oasis Cafe left its location in the Jeweler's Mall at 21 North Wabash due to a dispute with the landlord. The Jeweler's Mall brough in a new middle eastern place, but it never made it. The Oasis Cafe, which had moved a few blocks south, has now moved back to its original location, with slightly nicer digs -- the kitchen looks bigger. The owner is a nice, hardworking fellow, and I hope this works out well for him.

    For those unfamiliar, while Oasis Cafe will not challenge the Albany Park Middle Eastern joints, it is one of the better lunch options on the eastern Loop.

    Jonah
  • Post #2 - May 7th, 2008, 3:55 pm
    Post #2 - May 7th, 2008, 3:55 pm Post #2 - May 7th, 2008, 3:55 pm
    That's good news. I would bet there was a time in the early 90s when I had eaten at Oasis Cafe more than any other single restaurant in Chicago-- at least once a week. As you say, in a contest of the best middle eastern in Chicago it might just squeak into the top 20, but in a contest of the most real, least plastic food in the Loop in the early 90s-- a real contender.
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  • Post #3 - May 7th, 2008, 6:06 pm
    Post #3 - May 7th, 2008, 6:06 pm Post #3 - May 7th, 2008, 6:06 pm
    More good news is that they have a website (which doesn't exactly jump out at you if you try googling). It's oasiscafe1.com
  • Post #4 - May 7th, 2008, 6:11 pm
    Post #4 - May 7th, 2008, 6:11 pm Post #4 - May 7th, 2008, 6:11 pm
    The description of this dish sure makes it sound like it's better than its name!

    Foul Plate.....................................$4.99
    A dip made from Egyptian broad beans mixed with vegetables and our special spices, decorated with vegetables and served with tahini sauce and pita.

    I've only been there a couple of times but will definitely be a stop on the way to the boat at DuSable Harbor.
  • Post #5 - May 7th, 2008, 9:17 pm
    Post #5 - May 7th, 2008, 9:17 pm Post #5 - May 7th, 2008, 9:17 pm
    Beverator wrote:The description of this dish sure makes it sound like it's better than its name!

    Foul Plate.....................................$4.99
    A dip made from Egyptian broad beans mixed with vegetables and our special spices, decorated with vegetables and served with tahini sauce and pita.

    I've only been there a couple of times but will definitely be a stop on the way to the boat at DuSable Harbor.



    :roll:

    foul, or ful is an awesome, easy to prepare M.E. dip(many canned fava beans include a recipe...I would exclude the tahini)

    I was just mentioning Oasis to some Indianapolis friends...good to hear they's back where they belong(back of the Jewelry Mall)...decent falafel(never had the ful) and, echoing the above, definitely edible for The Loop.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #6 - July 24th, 2008, 10:43 am
    Post #6 - July 24th, 2008, 10:43 am Post #6 - July 24th, 2008, 10:43 am
    I had lunch here yesterday. It's as good as it ever was. I was hoping to get the special, which was their stuffed chicken breast, but they had already run out by the time I got there (which was, to be fair, after 1:15 p.m.). Instead I opted for a hummos plate with meat. The plate came with three lamb kifta pieces on the top, plenty of hummos, a nice, fresh piece of pita and some garnishes on the plate (pickled turnip, cucumber and tomatoes). Everything was delicious and I will definitely be back soon. Maybe even today.

    Suzy
    " There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
    - Frank Zappa
  • Post #7 - August 4th, 2008, 12:50 pm
    Post #7 - August 4th, 2008, 12:50 pm Post #7 - August 4th, 2008, 12:50 pm
    Christopher Gordon wrote:[...good to hear they's back where they belong...


    Well hellO...asis, well hellO...asis/
    It's so good, to have you back in Jeweller's Mall,

    We'll say goodbye, stasis,
    Cuz you're old, place is,
    Seeming bigger, better, brighter,
    Down that same old hall.

    Stopped in today at 1:00. Friendly and cheerful (them, me not so much).
    In 3 minutes i was headed out with my Mon. Wabash special: a chicken and veggies preparation in phyllo (seemed like sumac, and cinnamon predominating). I could actually do with a bit more restraint on the cinnamon side. A side of beans in a dark, savory sauce, a generous side of hummos, some tomato slices, cucumber slices, pickled turnip slices, 2 felafel, sauce, and pita. All for $6.99, fer cry-eye!

    You could drop that much at any miserable trans-fatty, pre-processed fast food joint around with nothing to show for it except a bit more sclerosis. It's a blessing, I tell you. If I had the mildest of complaints, it would be that the hummos seems a bit bland, with neither the zip of some robust spicing, or the zing of pronounced lemon. (Even a lemon wedge thrown in with the rest would take care of that for me.)
    But, indeed, so good to have them back.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #8 - September 9th, 2008, 12:07 pm
    Post #8 - September 9th, 2008, 12:07 pm Post #8 - September 9th, 2008, 12:07 pm
    Tried Oasis Cafe for the first time last Friday. As opposed to my lunch today at Cafecito, I must say I was disappointed.

    I like the fact that it's the back of the jewelers' mart. I can shop for a diamond or a watch while waiting for my lunch companion!

    I ordered the hummos plate with kifta. The hummos was the highlight. It was pretty tasty. The kifta, on the other hand, was completely dry and almost tasteless. I admit, in retrospect, that the kifta probably wasn't the wisest choice. It was 1pm on a Friday - - perhaps the meat had been sitting for a long time? The pita was pretty boring and didn't taste better than grocery store pita. It would have benefited from being toasted for a few seconds. The veggies were nice, but nothing special.

    If my office were closer, I'd probably return. Or, if the pita were better, I'd probably return to enjoy the hummos again. But, as it stands, I'm unlikely to go back.
  • Post #9 - September 16th, 2009, 10:41 am
    Post #9 - September 16th, 2009, 10:41 am Post #9 - September 16th, 2009, 10:41 am
    I work just a couple of blocks away from Oasis and have found myself going there almost once a week for the past few weeks.

    I agree with REB upthread that the pita is lackluster, but I really like just about everything else. I almost always get the veggie combo which is three falafel balls, two stuffed grape leaves, a healthy serving of hummos and one of the baba ghanoush, with a pita and some sliced veggies. The baba ghanoush is fantastic, the hummos totally decent, the falafel is ok normally and fantastic when you get them fresh out of the fryer*, and the grape leaves definitely above average. For $7.22 including tax, it's a great deal for the loop - the combo is enough for 1 1/2 meals for me.

    Would this place survive on Kedzie? Maybe, but probably not. Given its location, it's one of the best, fastest, cheapest lunch options in my work 'hood.

    -Dan

    * During lunch rush this place does a tremendous volume - sometimes I get fresh, hot falafel and sometimes I get it where they've clearly pre-fried a ton and they're under a heat lamp.
  • Post #10 - September 16th, 2009, 10:47 am
    Post #10 - September 16th, 2009, 10:47 am Post #10 - September 16th, 2009, 10:47 am
    Call me a non-conformist but I think the veggie combo at Jaffa Bakery is better.
  • Post #11 - September 16th, 2009, 10:52 am
    Post #11 - September 16th, 2009, 10:52 am Post #11 - September 16th, 2009, 10:52 am
    I agree with Dansch that the veggie combo is the way to go. The meat preparations tend to be dry. I wish their baba ghanoush had some smoke in it (any at all) and the pita weren't so spongy, but you'll take what you get for 7 bucks and near work. This is one of my go-to spots in the loop for sure.
  • Post #12 - September 16th, 2009, 10:58 am
    Post #12 - September 16th, 2009, 10:58 am Post #12 - September 16th, 2009, 10:58 am
    spinynorman99 wrote:Call me a non-conformist but I think the veggie combo at Jaffa Bakery is better.

    The one downstairs at 105 W Madison (with the Dunkin Donuts)? I can't say I've ever had it there, but I didn't brown bag today and that's only 1 block from my office, so maybe I'll wander over and try it out.

    -Dan
  • Post #13 - September 16th, 2009, 11:52 am
    Post #13 - September 16th, 2009, 11:52 am Post #13 - September 16th, 2009, 11:52 am
    They have a number of Loop locations. The one closest to me is on VanBuren near Federal.
  • Post #14 - September 16th, 2009, 12:29 pm
    Post #14 - September 16th, 2009, 12:29 pm Post #14 - September 16th, 2009, 12:29 pm
    So, I just finished my veggie combo from Jaffa and I think I'll stick with Oasis next time. The falafel balls are bready, lack any crisp exterior (the Oasis ones - even when tepid - retain a nice exterior crunch), and are generally bland. The hummus is ok, but the baba ghanoush is blah - it needs some sort of zing. The Jerusalem salad features mealy, pink tomatoes one would expect in February, not the middle of September. The addition of tabouli is nice - that's not something that Oasis has on their veggie combo. Same crappy pita as Oasis.

    -Dan
  • Post #15 - September 16th, 2009, 12:35 pm
    Post #15 - September 16th, 2009, 12:35 pm Post #15 - September 16th, 2009, 12:35 pm
    Jaffa's strength imo, is their hand-carved fresh roasted whole turkey. Dark meat, giardinera, mayo, lettuce, humus on a roll... tasty.
  • Post #16 - September 16th, 2009, 12:37 pm
    Post #16 - September 16th, 2009, 12:37 pm Post #16 - September 16th, 2009, 12:37 pm
    I think that on the veggie combo at Oasis you can choose either tabouli or grape leaves. I usually choose the grape leaves but the tabouli is decent.
  • Post #17 - September 16th, 2009, 12:39 pm
    Post #17 - September 16th, 2009, 12:39 pm Post #17 - September 16th, 2009, 12:39 pm
    turkob wrote:I think that on the veggie combo at Oasis you can choose either tabouli or grape leaves. I usually choose the grape leaves but the tabouli is decent.
    Actually, my combo had grape leaves too - I forgot to mention them. They were Ok, but again I think I prefer the (larger, drier, more flavorful) ones at Oasis. To each his own, I guess.

    ab wrote:Jaffa's strength imo, is their hand-carved fresh roasted whole turkey. Dark meat, giardinera, mayo, lettuce, humus on a roll... tasty.
    That turkey sitting in the steam tray did look really good - but I kept my focus on the veggie combo today. I'll definitely swing by and try that turkey sometime soon!

    -Dan
  • Post #18 - December 2nd, 2009, 12:41 pm
    Post #18 - December 2nd, 2009, 12:41 pm Post #18 - December 2nd, 2009, 12:41 pm
    dansch wrote:Would this place survive on Kedzie? Maybe, but probably not.
    Trying to wash the greasy taste of falafel disappointment out of my mouth, I stopped by Oasis for a veggie combo about 30 minutes ago. Blew the new Salam out of the water.

    If Oasis opened up on Kedzie today, located right where Nazarath Sweets is, I know exactly which door I'd walk in.

    -Dan

    p.s. In the interest of full honesty, the pita at Salam last night was much better than the spongy junk they serve at Oasis.
  • Post #19 - September 1st, 2010, 10:32 am
    Post #19 - September 1st, 2010, 10:32 am Post #19 - September 1st, 2010, 10:32 am
    Just FYI.
    Oasis has opened a second location at Van Buren and Wells.
    Ate there for lunch yesterday and Mikey likes it. Well, at least I like it a lot better than the concept middle eastern places nearby. Had chicken kabobs and chicken soup which I enjoyed. Their hot sauce was very good, ask for it.

    It is a lot closer to my work than the Wabash location. It will become part the regular rotation for me!
  • Post #20 - September 7th, 2010, 11:15 am
    Post #20 - September 7th, 2010, 11:15 am Post #20 - September 7th, 2010, 11:15 am
    Not sure if the changes have anything to do with the opening of the second location, but I noticed some changes in my veggie combo today:

    • Different pita. Definitely an improvement, though any change would be. Perhaps a certain % of whole grain, not 100% refined white flour.
    • Chunky baba. The baba ghanoush tastes basically the same (pronounced lemon, no char), but is now chunky.
    • Hot sauce. I'd venture to call this a 100% new recipe. Brighter red color, a lot more heat, overall an improvement.
    • Hummus. More tahini.
    • Garnish. Cukes and (crappy) tomatoes, like always, but now cut into quarter slices, which make them no longer dippable.

    Same staff, same menu, same prices, same crazy fast service, slightly different food.

    -Dan
  • Post #21 - February 23rd, 2011, 5:54 pm
    Post #21 - February 23rd, 2011, 5:54 pm Post #21 - February 23rd, 2011, 5:54 pm
    Thought I'd heap a little praise on Oasis Cafe. I've been going there for lunch quite frequently and for my money you'd be hard pressed to find a better lunch option in the Loop. I pretty much always opt for a combo which includes 3 pieces of falafel, baba ghanouj, rice, salad, pita and your choice of meat all for only $6.99 ($2.00 upcharge for lamb shish kebab).

    Combo with Kifta Kebab
    Image

    Combo with Lamb Shish Kebab
    Image

    The smokey baba ghanouj is excellent, the falafel is good, but most impressive is the meat. I'm not sure about previous posts that mentioned the meat being dried out, but in all my experiences both the lamb kifta kebab and lamb shish kebab have been nothing but moist, succulent, and well spiced, whether it be fresh off the grill (which happens frequently with the large turnover during the lunch rush) or having sat for awhile. Not only is the meat well cooked and spiced, you also get a huge portion of it, which when combined with everything else represents an unbelievable bargain that can easily make two meals, if you have enough will power not to eat it all in one sitting.

    I haven't strayed much into the rest of the menu, which includes chicken shawerma, a veggie plate, hummos w/meat, etc...but I have tried one of their many enticing specials, the Wabash Mixed Combo which consists of Moroccan Chicken Pastille (phyllo dough stuffed with chicken and vegetables), hummos, foul, and the aforementioned falafel. I thought the pastille was good but the phyllo dough lacked the crispness that I desired. The foul was well done though, and the creamy hummos was also nicely executed.

    Wabash Mixed Combo
    Image

    I should also note that their "hot sauce" is actually not very sauce-like at all, but is a mixture of finely chopped peppers that I absolutely love, and find to be another example of the surprising amount of care that is put into the food.

    "Hot Sauce
    Image

    With most lunch options in the loop offering considerably less food, both in quantity and flavor, at the same or more often than not, higher price point, Oasis Cafe is a real gem that has become my go to spot when dining out for lunch.
  • Post #22 - March 17th, 2011, 9:21 pm
    Post #22 - March 17th, 2011, 9:21 pm Post #22 - March 17th, 2011, 9:21 pm
    Made another trip to Oasis this week and opted for a special of Kushari with Chicken Shawerma (I went for the optional add on choice of meat). The menu didn't mention it coming with hummos, but I wanted some and asked if it did. True to what I've found to be pretty gracious service, they said if I wanted hummos they'd give me some, which they didn't skimp on (there's a lot more hummos under that huge pile of chicken) and didn't add to the bill.

    Kushari with Chicken Shawerma
    Image

    The Kushari consisted of rice, lentils, and some sauteed diced onions which is how the menu described it but not what is traditionally thought of when talking about Kushari.

    Image


    There was no pasta involved and it was not topped with a tomato sauce. Nonetheless, the Oasis version was good and nicely seasoned with hints of cinnamon and cumin.

    I'd never had the chicken shawerma at Oasis as I think ordering chicken is kinda boring and have always enjoyed the lamb, in both shish and kifta kebab form. However, on this particular day I thought I'd give it a shot as it seems to be a popular choice with other customers and I was curious to try something new. I thought it was pretty good and flavorful, with a decent amount of outside char which I was surprised by as I didn't think the shawerma spit would have enough time to generate a good crust during a busy lunch rush. I'm still going to opt for lamb the majority of the time, but it's nice to know I have a good option when the bird's the word.

    The hummos was as good as it usually is, nice and creamy, with a tahini/sesame flavor that is pronounced but not overwhelming.

    Ultimately, it was another good lunch (and leftover dinner) at Oasis.
  • Post #23 - March 18th, 2011, 8:33 am
    Post #23 - March 18th, 2011, 8:33 am Post #23 - March 18th, 2011, 8:33 am
    I agree with you pigOut. I am almost eating here too much. Looks like you go carry out, I eat in. I go for the Wed. Kushari/half hummus, with chicken kebab, and spinach soup. I really enjoy the Tue special Moroccan chicken. Lots of starch on this one with the potato, and I have asked them why they serve the soup of the day(always the same) Herrara. It's also full of rice. No answer, just the way it is. So, i just don't get soup that day. Today, I'm heading here today so hubby can get lamb. I have never seen the lamb dried out. I will say it is a huge portion and it is moist and char grilled. The vegetables I've had have all been cut chunky style, but as dansch says the pita are pretty unremarkable.
  • Post #24 - March 18th, 2011, 8:51 am
    Post #24 - March 18th, 2011, 8:51 am Post #24 - March 18th, 2011, 8:51 am
    pigOut wrote:I'd never had the chicken shawerma at Oasis as I think ordering chicken is kinda boring and have always enjoyed the lamb, in both shish and kifta kebab form. However, on this particular day I thought I'd give it a shot as it seems to be a popular choice with other customers and I was curious to try something new.
    I've tasted the chicken shawarma before and thought it pretty so-so (it lacked any char when I tried it). On the rare occasions that I feel like chicken (I'm pretty loyal to the veggie combo), I go for the chicken kabobs which have a consistently-high level of char.

    -Dan
  • Post #25 - June 2nd, 2011, 12:25 pm
    Post #25 - June 2nd, 2011, 12:25 pm Post #25 - June 2nd, 2011, 12:25 pm
    Went out of my comfort zone and ordered the spinach pie after I heard someone say it was good in line. Terrible. It was frozen in the center. I took it back and it was replaced by another one, but obviously nuked. It was like a few spinach leaves and onions in a hot dog bun. Really, terrible. The guy behind the counter brought the pie out and two pieces of baklava (because we had to wait) that certainly outshined the spinach pie. The owner wasn't there, things seemed a bit off, but nothing could change the texture of that spongy bready pie.
  • Post #26 - March 20th, 2014, 11:35 pm
    Post #26 - March 20th, 2014, 11:35 pm Post #26 - March 20th, 2014, 11:35 pm
    The Oasis lamb kafta lunch special was so savory and hearty Thursday that I might just return for another walk between the jewelry counters on Friday since I'm conferencing in the area. Hummus was nothing special but the meat was spiced and grilled just to my liking, and the foul and sumac-dusted vegetables were delectable. The most Old City experience I've had since the Old City.
  • Post #27 - July 20th, 2016, 1:55 pm
    Post #27 - July 20th, 2016, 1:55 pm Post #27 - July 20th, 2016, 1:55 pm
    Found myself at Wabash and Madison this afternoon and made the easy detour to Oasis Café. I thoroughly enjoyed the kefta kabob sandwich. The meat was juicy and I liked the grilled vegetables on top. The sandwich didn't travel all that well back to my office near Union Station but it was still tasty.
    -Mary
  • Post #28 - March 22nd, 2017, 10:49 am
    Post #28 - March 22nd, 2017, 10:49 am Post #28 - March 22nd, 2017, 10:49 am
    A week of jury duty at the Daley Center had me searching for decent, affordable lunch options in the area. I landed at Oasis Café twice. I had the kefta kabob sandwich again as I remembered liking it last time. No grilled vegies this time -- fresh tomato, cuke and lettuce. Still a tasty, messy, sandwich and much better eaten right away. I tried the chicken shawerma sandwich on the second visit. I didn't find that as enjoyable.

    I dig the set-up in the back of the space. I had lunch and got a watch battery replaced. Such convenience!
    -Mary
  • Post #29 - March 23rd, 2017, 8:14 am
    Post #29 - March 23rd, 2017, 8:14 am Post #29 - March 23rd, 2017, 8:14 am
    I go here at least a couple of times a month, and their chicken shawerma has never wowed me. The Kefta Kabob is my go-to. The Chicken kabob is very good too, if you're in the chicken mood. Their grilled lamb is also really good, but it's a little more expensive and takes some time (as its grilled to order) so I rarely get that anymore.

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