it's restaurant week, bitches

Hundreds of Chicago restaurants offer 3-course prix-fixe lunches for $22 and dinners for $32 this week (February 20 - 27). Many places have their specific restaurant week menus available for perusing online. Make your reservations at opentable. I did.


Shop Here: Middle East Bakery

I try to always have olives, feta cheese, hummus, and pita on hand so I'm thankful to have the Middle East Bakery mere blocks from my apartment. The name, sign outside, and window displays surely don't draw in passersby - this is a place that relies on word of mouth. But an in-the-know friend told me this is THE place to get the best tasting and best priced feta around and I've been stopping in once a week since.


The spinach pies and falafel are on par with Sultan's Market and are priced to sell. Andrea pieced together an entire meal of a dozen falafel, two meat pies, hummus, spicy babaganoush, and a bag of pitas for barely $11 - making two huge meals and a couple of snacks. Everything we had was perfectly seasoned and kept well for re-heating.

Stressed out over hosting my Christmas party, I stopped in for a tray of delicious baklava when I realized at the last minute I neglected to bake any cookies. This is the perfect place to:

-pick up a food gift for a host/ess
-grab dinner on the way home from work
-get appetizers for game day or a cocktail party
-snack while shopping in Andersonville


Various exotic spices and imported goodies can be found in the grocery sections of the Middle East Bakery. The dried fruits, nuts, grains, and spices are fresh and inexpensive. You will pay a lot less and find more variety than can possibly be crammed into the three feet dedicated to Mediterranean on the international aisle of a major grocery chain. You'll find all sorts of yuppie, of-the-moment, foods touted at places like Whole Foods (think organic quinoa) minus the yuppie customers. Here's a snapshot:

-Israeli couscous
-green coffee beans
-red lentils
-gogi berries
-cardamom, sumac, and zaatar(of recent Top Chef fame)
-yogurt covered almonds

It is a small neighborhood gem, but being on Foster between Ashland and Clark it is easily accessible. Don't forget to reciprocate - I'm always looking for ethnic markets and small neighborhood grocers!