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A spread of Middle Eastern spreads.
Galit joins a great selection of Middle Eastern restaurants around Chicago.
Galit/Sandy Noto

Where to Eat Middle Eastern Food in Chicago

From Chicago to Bridgeview, locals can find plenty of wonderful food

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Galit joins a great selection of Middle Eastern restaurants around Chicago.
| Galit/Sandy Noto

The Middle East is a diverse region, and Chicago’s Middle Eastern food scene is no different. From Lebanese to Turkish to Persian, there are threads that tie the city’s restaurants together–hummus, kebab, stone ovens–but variations in spices, signature dishes, influence, and atmosphere. Whether you’re craving a quick shawarma wrap or an elegant sit down dinner, one of these 18 restaurants is sure to satisfy.

As of January 23, Chicago restaurants are permitted to serve customers indoors with a 25 percent maximum capacity per room. At the same time, despite winter weather, a number of Chicago restaurants continue to offer outdoor seating. Regardless, the state requires reservations for indoor and outdoor dining. The level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Istanbul Market and Cafe

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2324 Elmhurst Rd
Mt Prospect, IL 60056
(847) 378-8366
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What started as a grocery is now also a cafe in suburban Mount Prospect that serves simit, lahmajoon, menemen, borek, and more. Dine on heaping portions amid shelves of Turkish ingredients and baked goods to-go. It’s a bit of a trek, but worth a stop if you’re headed to or from O’Hare International Airport.

2. Libanais Restaurant

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3300 W Devon Ave
Lincolnwood, IL 60712
(224) 470-1515
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This Lebanese restaurant has one of the more extensive menus on the list, including regional specialities like sfiha–a flatbread with a spiced minced meat topping–and fatteh–chickpeas over toasted pita bread with yogurt, tahini, garlic, sumac, and melted butter. All of the mezzes are excellent, but the baba ghanoush is especially good, with the level of smokiness you find in Beirut. That’s no surprise, as the restaurant originally opened in Raouche, Beirut in 1935. Though the family immigrated to Chicago, they still source spices from Turkey and make their own zaatar, which is fresh and tangy and should be added to every order.

3. Baghdad Bakery

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2741 W Devon Ave
Chicago, IL 60659
(773) 856-3301
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Baghdad Bakery on Devon Avenue mostly caters to restaurants, but if you go in the morning you can find fresh, warm, pillowy samoon — Iraqi bread baked in a stone oven. Buy this by the bag, along with cheese and spinach pies, flatbread with meat or zaatar, and kahi–phyllo pastry best eaten with honey and popular in Iraqi cafes for breakfast.

4. Fiya

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5419 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(312) 493-0443
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Andersonville is spoiled for choice when it comes to Middle Eastern restaurants, and Fiya’s wide-ranging menu featuring “soul food from the Levant” had earned it numerous local fans. Customers can expect dishes and ingredients from a swath of countries including Israel, Tunisia, Palestine, Iran, and Syria. Hits include a Moroccan fish (cilantro oil, pita) grilled in Fiya’s wood-burning oven and Georgian khachapuri with lamb sausage (pickled onion, parsely-cilantro, tahina). Most items travel well for delivery and carryout.

5. Middle East Bakery & Grocery

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1512 W Foster Ave
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 561-2224

Come for the grocery, stay for the grill. This shop has supplied Chicago’s home cooks with Middle Eastern, Turkish, and Persian ingredients for almost 40 years. You’ll find spices, olives and cheese sourced from abroad, as well as fresh pita, pies, baklava, and other baked goods made on-site. Grab a shawarma wrap to-go.

6. Taste of Lebanon Restaurant

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1509 W Foster Ave
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 334-1600

Taste of Lebanon in Andersonville serves some of the best falafel and lentil soup outside of the Middle East. The falafel is flavorful and light, the hummus is extra creamy, the tabouleh is fresh, and the affordable price and consistently friendly staff make up for the fact that it’s cash only. Most items travel well.

7. Sheeba Mandi House

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3456 W Foster Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 654-3349
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Yemeni food is different from other Middle Eastern cuisines, drawing on Ottoman stews and Indian spices while maintaining its own distinct dishes. Sheeba’s cooks were born in Yemen and make a point of bringing authentic flavors and cooking methods to Chicago, without any shortcuts. Go for the hearty, bubbling stews served in heavy clay bowls like saltah, a mix of root vegetables and meat–Yemen’s national dish. Or Mandi, a Yemeni-style rice, meat and spice dish. It all goes well with Mulawah, the outstanding tandoor bread that’s something like a tortilla meets paratha.

8. Kabobi - Persian and Mediterranean Grill

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4748 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 583-1400
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At this casual Persian spot in Albany Park, you order at the counter and wait for steaming plates of food to be brought to the table. The menu is large, as are the portions (plus all lunch and late night meals come with hummus and salad), so it’s great for sharing or taking some to-go. While they serve a variety of Persian dishes, the juicy kebabs and biryani are the highlight. They even have a 10 p.m. to midnight late night menu, which you can also order for delivery. A great addition to any party.

9. Ward Bakery

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4744 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 478-8000
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This grocery store carries Middle Eastern and Indian cooking supplies. It’s a storefront for a massive wholesale operation that provides pita and other baked goods to restaurants and stores across Chicago. There’s also a Middle Eastern bakery with cakes and an astonishing array of baklava. Order via third parties on the bakery’s website for delivery.

Ward Bakery [Official Photo]

10. Noon O Kabab

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4701 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 279-8899
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This family-run Persian eatery opened in 1977. It’s since tripled in size and serves fabulous kebab, as the name suggests, but more importantly dishes up Persian classics like fesenjan, a pomegranate and walnut stew; adass polo, rice with lentils, raisins, caramelized onions, saffron, and barbeerris; and tadig–Iran’s crunchy rice specialty. Spices are imported from Iran and the recipes are family secrets. The menu is large, so come with friends to sit among the soft lighting and pretty Persian tiles depicting Sufi tales.

11. The Gundis Kurdish Kitchen

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2909 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 904-8120
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Chicagoans might not have been familiar with Kurdish food when The Gundis opened in Lakeview 2017, but owners Mehmet Besir Duzgun and Mehmet Besir Yavuz have done their part to change that. The Gundis serves food from the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran in a communal style and bright, airy space. Kurdish food shares similarities with other Middle Eastern regions–hummus, baba ganoush, kebab–but is a bit spicier and with more citrus and seafood. A Mediterranean sea bass in a tomato caper sauce is a highlight, as is the mountain salad with apricots and walnuts and the adana kebab, a lamb specialty from southeast Turkey. The Gundis also serves a great Kurdish breakfast, a feast for two that includes cheeses, jams, honey, olives, tomatoes, fried cheese rolls, eggs, and bottomless Kurdish tea.

12. Galit

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2429 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 360-8755
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Galit, owned by Andrés Clavero and James Beard Award-winning chef Zachary Engel, feels like stepping into a seaside spot in the Middle East. Turquoise tiles, an open hearth, and an eight-foot grill greet guests, who dine on mezze and fragrant cocktails in a light-filled space. There are plenty of veggies here, from coal-roasted carrots and beets to trumpet mushroom hummus, a selection of pickles, and kale tabouli. But don’t fear, the Iraqi Kubbeh Halab features saffron-crusted lamb with golden raisins and almonds, and a steak with parsnips, Brussels sprouts and grape molasses puts meat lovers at home.

13. Cedar Palace

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655 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 643-0933
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This family-owned Lebanese restaurant opened in 2018 and has built a loyal following over the last two years for its juicy kebabs and shawarma sandwiches. The lentil soup and hummus are classics, and everything comes with freshly baked pita. Don’t skip dessert; the baklava is crispy and sweet, never soggy. There’s a large patio with heaters, and the restaurant is BYOB with a $15 corkage fee. 

14. Yaba’s Food & Middle Eastern Grill

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3011 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 666-5055
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This tiny counter spot run by a Palestinian family on Armitage serves some of Chicago’s best falafel, along with hummus, kebab, wraps, and rice inside Plaza Food Mart. Head to the back of the convenience store and get in line–the wait is well worth it, or you can call ahead. The spinach pies and lentil soup are perfect for nibbling while your order is prepared, or to snack on on the way home. Yaba’s is carry-out and delivery only.

15. Sultan's Market

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2057 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 235-3072
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The original Wicker Park Sultan’s Market location became a quick staple when it opened in the ‘90s for its chicken shawarma and falafel sandwiches and platters, as well as its affordable prices. Everything is under $10 and portions are filling. The salad bar–packed with more than 30 ingredients for $5.99 per pound ($3 less than Whole Foods)–makes an easy lunch. There’s also locations in Lincoln Park and Logan Square.

16. Cafe Istanbul

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2014 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 661-9487
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Inside a Wicker Park strip mall, Cafe Istanbul specializes in wood-grilled fare that skews toward traditional Turkish food. Helmed by a former chef at Roscoe Village’s Turquoise, one of the more unique items is the cag dza kebab. This isn’t a garden variety meat cone, the Reader’s Mike Sula notes. It’s made from lamb stack horizontally and cooked, giving it more of a char than those rotating pieces of meat that are staples at Turkish restaurants. The restaurant, which also has a Lakeview location, is a Jean Banchet Award winner.

17. Zaytune Mediterranean Grill

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3129 S Morgan St
Chicago, IL 60608
(773) 254-6300
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At Zaytune, in Bridgeport, everything is made-to-order, even the flatbread, and owner Daniel Sarkiss prides himself on adherence to traditional recipes and ingredients. Everything from the falafel to the sauces is made from scratch. The shawarma is solid, whether in wrap or platter form, and the herbed fries are crispy and served with a garlic dip. Build your platter, bowl, or wrap with a choice of protein, sauce, and vegetables, and add a few salads and sides for a full meal.

18. The Nile of Hyde Park

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1162 E 55th St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 324-9499
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This Hyde Park restaurant has been a classic among students and University of Chicago staff for ages, and it’s easy to see why. The food is filling, cheap, and delicious. Abed Moughrabi opened The Nile in 1991 after years of watching his grandmother and mother cook. Now his son Rashad keeps up the family tradition. All the mainstay dishes like shawarma and falafel are here, as well as maklouba–a Palestinian classic of meat, cauliflower, eggplant, potato, garlic and rice layered and braised, then turned upside down and served with yogurt. The Nile is also known for “Steak In a Sack,” a family tradition of sliced steak, sauteed onion, tomato, and a mix of sauces in pita. It’s a great quick lunch.

19. Al Bawadi Grill

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7216 W 87th St
Bridgeview, IL 60455
(708) 599-1999
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Al Bawadi, which recently opened a second location in North Suburban Niles to accompany its South Suburban Bridgeview spot, is a longtime favorite in Chicago for its excellent kibbeh, the kebab cooked over charcoal, pita made on a stone turntable, and kanafeh–crushed phyllo dough topped with cheese, warmed, and soaked with syrup and rose water. The servers dressed in keffiyeh and abundant camel decorations can feel a bit put on, but the food is good. Really good. And one needs only to talk to the staff for a few minutes to see that cheesy or not, their hearts are in the food.

20. Oozi Corner

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9115 S Harlem Ave
Bridgeview, IL 60455
(855) 669-4246
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Down on Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview, there’s a convergence of Middle Eastern businesses with many places for kebobs and falafel scattered around many strip malls. Further down, passers-by will find Oozi Corner, a spacious restaurant that has offered socially distanced dine in throughout the pandemic. There’s also a drive-thru window for sandwiches and wraps, but the true stars of the menu are the chicken, lamb, and beef grilled over charcoal. 

Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

1. Istanbul Market and Cafe

2324 Elmhurst Rd, Mt Prospect, IL 60056

What started as a grocery is now also a cafe in suburban Mount Prospect that serves simit, lahmajoon, menemen, borek, and more. Dine on heaping portions amid shelves of Turkish ingredients and baked goods to-go. It’s a bit of a trek, but worth a stop if you’re headed to or from O’Hare International Airport.

2324 Elmhurst Rd
Mt Prospect, IL 60056

2. Libanais Restaurant

3300 W Devon Ave, Lincolnwood, IL 60712

This Lebanese restaurant has one of the more extensive menus on the list, including regional specialities like sfiha–a flatbread with a spiced minced meat topping–and fatteh–chickpeas over toasted pita bread with yogurt, tahini, garlic, sumac, and melted butter. All of the mezzes are excellent, but the baba ghanoush is especially good, with the level of smokiness you find in Beirut. That’s no surprise, as the restaurant originally opened in Raouche, Beirut in 1935. Though the family immigrated to Chicago, they still source spices from Turkey and make their own zaatar, which is fresh and tangy and should be added to every order.

3300 W Devon Ave
Lincolnwood, IL 60712

3. Baghdad Bakery

2741 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60659

Baghdad Bakery on Devon Avenue mostly caters to restaurants, but if you go in the morning you can find fresh, warm, pillowy samoon — Iraqi bread baked in a stone oven. Buy this by the bag, along with cheese and spinach pies, flatbread with meat or zaatar, and kahi–phyllo pastry best eaten with honey and popular in Iraqi cafes for breakfast.

2741 W Devon Ave
Chicago, IL 60659

4. Fiya

5419 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

Andersonville is spoiled for choice when it comes to Middle Eastern restaurants, and Fiya’s wide-ranging menu featuring “soul food from the Levant” had earned it numerous local fans. Customers can expect dishes and ingredients from a swath of countries including Israel, Tunisia, Palestine, Iran, and Syria. Hits include a Moroccan fish (cilantro oil, pita) grilled in Fiya’s wood-burning oven and Georgian khachapuri with lamb sausage (pickled onion, parsely-cilantro, tahina). Most items travel well for delivery and carryout.

5419 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640

5. Middle East Bakery & Grocery

1512 W Foster Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

Come for the grocery, stay for the grill. This shop has supplied Chicago’s home cooks with Middle Eastern, Turkish, and Persian ingredients for almost 40 years. You’ll find spices, olives and cheese sourced from abroad, as well as fresh pita, pies, baklava, and other baked goods made on-site. Grab a shawarma wrap to-go.

1512 W Foster Ave
Chicago, IL 60640

6. Taste of Lebanon Restaurant

1509 W Foster Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

Taste of Lebanon in Andersonville serves some of the best falafel and lentil soup outside of the Middle East. The falafel is flavorful and light, the hummus is extra creamy, the tabouleh is fresh, and the affordable price and consistently friendly staff make up for the fact that it’s cash only. Most items travel well.

1509 W Foster Ave
Chicago, IL 60640

7. Sheeba Mandi House

3456 W Foster Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

Yemeni food is different from other Middle Eastern cuisines, drawing on Ottoman stews and Indian spices while maintaining its own distinct dishes. Sheeba’s cooks were born in Yemen and make a point of bringing authentic flavors and cooking methods to Chicago, without any shortcuts. Go for the hearty, bubbling stews served in heavy clay bowls like saltah, a mix of root vegetables and meat–Yemen’s national dish. Or Mandi, a Yemeni-style rice, meat and spice dish. It all goes well with Mulawah, the outstanding tandoor bread that’s something like a tortilla meets paratha.

3456 W Foster Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

8. Kabobi - Persian and Mediterranean Grill

4748 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

At this casual Persian spot in Albany Park, you order at the counter and wait for steaming plates of food to be brought to the table. The menu is large, as are the portions (plus all lunch and late night meals come with hummus and salad), so it’s great for sharing or taking some to-go. While they serve a variety of Persian dishes, the juicy kebabs and biryani are the highlight. They even have a 10 p.m. to midnight late night menu, which you can also order for delivery. A great addition to any party.

4748 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

9. Ward Bakery

4744 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
Ward Bakery [Official Photo]

This grocery store carries Middle Eastern and Indian cooking supplies. It’s a storefront for a massive wholesale operation that provides pita and other baked goods to restaurants and stores across Chicago. There’s also a Middle Eastern bakery with cakes and an astonishing array of baklava. Order via third parties on the bakery’s website for delivery.

4744 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

10. Noon O Kabab

4701 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

This family-run Persian eatery opened in 1977. It’s since tripled in size and serves fabulous kebab, as the name suggests, but more importantly dishes up Persian classics like fesenjan, a pomegranate and walnut stew; adass polo, rice with lentils, raisins, caramelized onions, saffron, and barbeerris; and tadig–Iran’s crunchy rice specialty. Spices are imported from Iran and the recipes are family secrets. The menu is large, so come with friends to sit among the soft lighting and pretty Persian tiles depicting Sufi tales.

4701 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

11. The Gundis Kurdish Kitchen

2909 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657

Chicagoans might not have been familiar with Kurdish food when The Gundis opened in Lakeview 2017, but owners Mehmet Besir Duzgun and Mehmet Besir Yavuz have done their part to change that. The Gundis serves food from the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran in a communal style and bright, airy space. Kurdish food shares similarities with other Middle Eastern regions–hummus, baba ganoush, kebab–but is a bit spicier and with more citrus and seafood. A Mediterranean sea bass in a tomato caper sauce is a highlight, as is the mountain salad with apricots and walnuts and the adana kebab, a lamb specialty from southeast Turkey. The Gundis also serves a great Kurdish breakfast, a feast for two that includes cheeses, jams, honey, olives, tomatoes, fried cheese rolls, eggs, and bottomless Kurdish tea.

2909 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657

12. Galit

2429 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Galit, owned by Andrés Clavero and James Beard Award-winning chef Zachary Engel, feels like stepping into a seaside spot in the Middle East. Turquoise tiles, an open hearth, and an eight-foot grill greet guests, who dine on mezze and fragrant cocktails in a light-filled space. There are plenty of veggies here, from coal-roasted carrots and beets to trumpet mushroom hummus, a selection of pickles, and kale tabouli. But don’t fear, the Iraqi Kubbeh Halab features saffron-crusted lamb with golden raisins and almonds, and a steak with parsnips, Brussels sprouts and grape molasses puts meat lovers at home.

2429 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

13. Cedar Palace

655 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

This family-owned Lebanese restaurant opened in 2018 and has built a loyal following over the last two years for its juicy kebabs and shawarma sandwiches. The lentil soup and hummus are classics, and everything comes with freshly baked pita. Don’t skip dessert; the baklava is crispy and sweet, never soggy. There’s a large patio with heaters, and the restaurant is BYOB with a $15 corkage fee. 

655 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

14. Yaba’s Food & Middle Eastern Grill

3011 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

This tiny counter spot run by a Palestinian family on Armitage serves some of Chicago’s best falafel, along with hummus, kebab, wraps, and rice inside Plaza Food Mart. Head to the back of the convenience store and get in line–the wait is well worth it, or you can call ahead. The spinach pies and lentil soup are perfect for nibbling while your order is prepared, or to snack on on the way home. Yaba’s is carry-out and delivery only.

3011 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

15. Sultan's Market

2057 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

The original Wicker Park Sultan’s Market location became a quick staple when it opened in the ‘90s for its chicken shawarma and falafel sandwiches and platters, as well as its affordable prices. Everything is under $10 and portions are filling. The salad bar–packed with more than 30 ingredients for $5.99 per pound ($3 less than Whole Foods)–makes an easy lunch. There’s also locations in Lincoln Park and Logan Square.

2057 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

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16. Cafe Istanbul

2014 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622

Inside a Wicker Park strip mall, Cafe Istanbul specializes in wood-grilled fare that skews toward traditional Turkish food. Helmed by a former chef at Roscoe Village’s Turquoise, one of the more unique items is the cag dza kebab. This isn’t a garden variety meat cone, the Reader’s Mike Sula notes. It’s made from lamb stack horizontally and cooked, giving it more of a char than those rotating pieces of meat that are staples at Turkish restaurants. The restaurant, which also has a Lakeview location, is a Jean Banchet Award winner.

2014 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622

17. Zaytune Mediterranean Grill

3129 S Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60608

At Zaytune, in Bridgeport, everything is made-to-order, even the flatbread, and owner Daniel Sarkiss prides himself on adherence to traditional recipes and ingredients. Everything from the falafel to the sauces is made from scratch. The shawarma is solid, whether in wrap or platter form, and the herbed fries are crispy and served with a garlic dip. Build your platter, bowl, or wrap with a choice of protein, sauce, and vegetables, and add a few salads and sides for a full meal.

3129 S Morgan St
Chicago, IL 60608

18. The Nile of Hyde Park

1162 E 55th St, Chicago, IL 60615

This Hyde Park restaurant has been a classic among students and University of Chicago staff for ages, and it’s easy to see why. The food is filling, cheap, and delicious. Abed Moughrabi opened The Nile in 1991 after years of watching his grandmother and mother cook. Now his son Rashad keeps up the family tradition. All the mainstay dishes like shawarma and falafel are here, as well as maklouba–a Palestinian classic of meat, cauliflower, eggplant, potato, garlic and rice layered and braised, then turned upside down and served with yogurt. The Nile is also known for “Steak In a Sack,” a family tradition of sliced steak, sauteed onion, tomato, and a mix of sauces in pita. It’s a great quick lunch.

1162 E 55th St
Chicago, IL 60615

19. Al Bawadi Grill

7216 W 87th St, Bridgeview, IL 60455

Al Bawadi, which recently opened a second location in North Suburban Niles to accompany its South Suburban Bridgeview spot, is a longtime favorite in Chicago for its excellent kibbeh, the kebab cooked over charcoal, pita made on a stone turntable, and kanafeh–crushed phyllo dough topped with cheese, warmed, and soaked with syrup and rose water. The servers dressed in keffiyeh and abundant camel decorations can feel a bit put on, but the food is good. Really good. And one needs only to talk to the staff for a few minutes to see that cheesy or not, their hearts are in the food.

7216 W 87th St
Bridgeview, IL 60455

20. Oozi Corner

9115 S Harlem Ave, Bridgeview, IL 60455
Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

Down on Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview, there’s a convergence of Middle Eastern businesses with many places for kebobs and falafel scattered around many strip malls. Further down, passers-by will find Oozi Corner, a spacious restaurant that has offered socially distanced dine in throughout the pandemic. There’s also a drive-thru window for sandwiches and wraps, but the true stars of the menu are the chicken, lamb, and beef grilled over charcoal. 

9115 S Harlem Ave
Bridgeview, IL 60455

Related Maps