By Elizabeth SanFilippo
Mediterranean cuisine may be all about fruits, vegetables, seafood and olive oil, but considering all of the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, that’s about all it has in common. Through spices and flavor combinations, Mediterranean dishes — and their restaurants — are incredibly varied. From hummus and falafel to seafood salads and kebabs, these restaurants all offer fresh and delicious dishes.
5253 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60640
Andies Restaurant, both in Andersonville and Lakeview, offers seasonal eastern Mediterranean cuisine with a focus on Greek, Lebanese and vegetarian dishes, but it also prides itself on using incredibly fresh ingredients. While many of its meats and ingredients come from local farms, Andies also has its own garden. The menu ranges from the usual and always delicious gyros plate and dip sampler to the more unusual such as its signature pomegranate chicken with almonds and nuts. Entrees are never more than $20, even during the dinner rush, and Andies also offers some great gluten-free options.
807 W. Webster
Chicago, IL 60657
The Athenian Room is the place to go for Greek food and not just because Tina Fey likes to frequent it when she’s in town. While the comedian delights in the roasted chicken, Athenian Room also offers other superb dishes such as shish kabobs and a gyros dinner — the meat of which is cut right in front of you. Prices are reasonable, ranging from $10-$30 for an entree.
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1746 W. Addison St.
Chicago, IL 60613
While this Turkish restaurant is on a busy intersection in West Lakeview, it doesn’t feel like it when you’re dining in the cozy indoor space or enjoying a casual meal outside. The portions of everything from the Turkish pizza to the Uskudar (lamb cubes) are big, especially considering the reasonable prices. Entrees run from about $12-$22. The lentil soup might seem like a bland option, but a cup of this delightful mixture will be a great start to your meal. Even better, Cafe Orchid is BYOB.
1411 N. Wells St.
Chicago, IL 60610
The menu at Old Jerusalem, full of traditional Middle Eastern dishes like Moudardara (steamed rice and lentil with yogurt) and Kefta, may be intimidating, but don’t let it be. The wait staff here will gladly explain anything on the menu as well as make recommendations for great dishes like the popular Baba Ganouj for only $9.50. Don’t forget to finish your meal with some homemade baklawa.
432 W. Ontario Ave.
Chicago, IL 60610
With four locations throughout Chicago and the suburbs, Reza’s may be one of the most popular Mediterranean restaurants. And with its delicious seafood and vegetarian dishes, it’s not hard to see why. Whether you’re picking food from the buffet (available Monday through Friday during lunch only) or ordering some traditional items off the menu, such as lamb shank, it’s hard to go wrong. The herb-roasted feta cheese at $7.95 is a stellar way to start the meal and then fill up on some signature kabobs. Online ordering is also available.
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Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.