NFT Chicago West Ridge

West Ridge

Essentials
As far north as you can go and still be in Chicago, Rogers Park and West Ridge have an intimate, residential feel drawing many families and retirees. Edged by Evanston, the neighborhoods are dotted with gardens, parks, sledding hills, baseball diamonds, tennis courts and jogging paths. Thanks in part to the spill-over population from East Rogers Park and Loyola University, Rogers Park has a tendency to attract academics and students.

Sundries/Entertainment
Most of the action in West Rogers Park occurs on Devon Avenue. Thanks to the culture clash of its residents, the international marketplace is supported by dozens of inexpensive Indian and Pakistani restaurants, Bollywood video rentals, the best saris you'll find in the States and a slew of Islamic, Russian and Jewish bookstores and bakeries.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Brendan Keating
Photo:  Brendan Keating

Hema's Kitchen
Even if you don't know your roti from your raita, a trip to Hema’s Kitchen will leave you satisfied. The competition between Indo-Pak restaurants on Devon Avenue is fierce, and everyone has their favorite, but Hema’s Kitchen is undoubtedly one of area's crown jewels. Hema's menu is heavier on meat options than most chow houses on Devon, and these are some of the restaurant's best offerings as well. Try one of Hema's lamb "sizzlers," the haryali chicken, or the fish vindaloo. Their mulligatawny soup is also the best most people have ever had. Hema is a master of spice, but feel free to ask the wait staff to adjust the volume on the heat level. The service is of the ethnic food variety, well-meaning but spotty, and the decor strangely erotic, but you'll forget all about that as you happily pile mounds of paneer on your butter naan. The joint is BYOB too, so you can bring a few cold ones to quiet the fire in your happy mouth.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Argo Georgian Bakery
Argo has the distinction of being Chicago's only Georgian bakery. And before you can say, "Ooo! Peach pie!" it's not that Georgia. I'm talking former Soviet Republic Georgia. So what Georgian delicacies are so great that it's worth going to Argo? For starters, there's hachapuri, this delicate puff pastry stuffed with mozzarella, feta, and farm cheeses. When it's straight out of the domed brick oven, the cheese oozes out, and it's simply delicious. Take note of the oven because it's supposedly the only one of its kind in the city and is particular to Georgian-style baking. You can also get small pies stuffed with spinach, cabbage, potato, beef, and chicken, and those are just as good. This small shop also has groceries for takeout. Grab a bag of hikali: Georgian dumplings stuffed with a beef and pork mixture, and you'll be able to eat some Georgian goodness for days.



Posted By:  Jamie Smith
Photo:  Jamie Smith

Sukhadia Sweets and Snacks
At Sukhadia, the sweets are as colorful as their names: hot pink chum chum, bright orange poori, and preternaturally yellow burfee are among the many treats you can procure at this Devon Street shop. Don't expect to find chocolate or hard candies or anything (American) you've ever heard of before. If you're afraid of trying new things or have a mean nut allergy, then perhaps Sukhadia isn't for you. But if you like the idea of being forced to point at what you want because you're afraid you'll mispronounce the name of that delicious-looking something you know nothing about, then this is the place that your sweet tooth and your adventurous spirit have been waiting to discover. The process is more Delhi than deli counter: stand back while you decide what you want but don't be afraid to politely step up when you're ready. Nobody's going to hand you a number and these sweets are definitely worth jostling for.



Posted By:  Jamie Smith
Photo:  Courtesy of Steve Townsend

Gulliver's Pizzeria & Restaurant
Gulliver's is a great place to take someone on an ambivalent date. The dining room is packed floor to ceiling with lamps and statues and priceless antiques to look at if you don't want to stare deeply into your partner's eyes. If you're even less interested in hearing what he or she has to say, order one of the fantastic pizzas and rest assured you'll be too busy stuffing your face to listen to some stupid story about hiking through the Andes. The pizza is cheesier than the story behind his Chilean friendship bracelet and the deep dish crust even crisper than your responses to his questions about honeymooning in South America. Gulliver's is also a great place to go on a date with someone you do want to be with. The other entrees are pretty good (though the pizza is the Big Man on Campus) and if you choose to split one of the mediocre desserts you can bond by brainstorming how you could put the whipped cream to better use. The only situation Gulliver's probably isn’t good for is breaking up--you'll be too full to easily dodge one of the aforementioned antiques being thrown at your head.



Posted By:  Josannah Birman
Photo:  Josannah Birman

Nina Pensuwan comes from a restaurant family so when she opened Siam Pasta in 1993, her brother was enlisted to help. He was a chef at Star of Siam and showed Nina and her husband, Sunt, how to create traditional dishes and stay true to their Bangkok roots. However, she admits the liberal use of peanut sauce caters to the American palate. Located on a nondescript stretch of Western Avenue, it has been a neighborhood favorite for years. Hungry locals flood in from 11-3 everyday for the $5.95 lunch special which includes a taster and an entree. Meanwhile, connoisseurs of Thai iced coffee grin with approval as they sip the sweet, creamy, two-dollar concoction. Nina and Sunt are often on site making sure every order of hearty pad see eiw and fiery panang curry is just right. They greet everyone warmly and when Thai customers enter you'll hear a flurry of their native tongue. Nina has been known to dine with regulars and remembers some from when they were children. Siam Pasta isn’t reinventing Thai cuisine but even the pickiest aficionados are satisfied by the killer combination of freshness, courtesy, and price.



Posted By:  Brian Diebold
Photo:  Brian Diebold

Mullen's
I’m sure many Chicagoans (especially Cub fans) are familiar with the Mullen’s name. What they might not know is that this establishment is part of a chain that was established in 2000 up in Rogers Park. Named after a neighborhood police officer injured in the line of duty, Mullen’s prides itself on being a casual neighborhood spot for those wanting good food and a cold beer. They also offer games including their famous involvement with the Windy City Darters Association. This one is obvious when you see the back wall dominated by boards and plaques that they have won. My advice: have a beer and try their tasty wings at the Rogers Park location. A great jukebox, friendly people, and entertainment drive this place high on my list. But the biggest draw to the Rogers Park location? You don’t have to deal with all the horrible yuppie, amateur scum Wrigleyvillians!



Posted By:  Dana Kaye
Photo:  Dana Kaye

JB's Deli
Finally, Chicago has a real Jewish deli. Now you don’t have to go to New York or mom’s house to get the wholesome comfort food Jews like me grew up with. This no frills establishment offers all the favorites: corned beef, pastrami, lox, chub, knishes, kugel, blintzes, and even chopped liver. Most importantly, the food is great. For the more conservative eaters, it also offers soup, a variety of salads, and bagels. But stick with the Jewish specialties, and you won’t be disappointed. It has a few tables to enjoy a sandwich on your lunch break and a pharmacy to pick up a pack of Tums if the corned beef on rye gives you indigestion.




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Restaurants (14)
Nightlife (3)
Shopping (10)
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