Posts Tagged ‘hummus’

Oasis Cafe, The Loop

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

he said:

The Gal and I were doing some window shopping in the Wabash diamond district the other day… just window shopping, not looking for anything in particular. (Jeez, back off.)


Anyway, we were in the Wabash Jewelers Mall, and we noticed a take out counter in the back of the mall. It was a tad out of place. Here we were, surrounded by stunning jewelry and diamonds, and in the back was a dirty, little greasy spoon. Or so I thought.

This place was called the Oasis Cafe, as the bright neon sign let us know. It looked…bad. I chuckled to myself at how strange it was. But there were a lot of people streaming in on their lunch breaks. We were hungry, so we decided to at least check out the menu. And that’s when the surprises began.


First, it was a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern place. I was expecting greasy fast food. Second, the food was delicious.

I got one of my favorites, a falafel sandwich. I can say without a doubt that this was the best I’ve had in Chicago. Well, that’s cheating because it’s the only one I’ve had here, so far. But I’m not cheating when I say that this was probably the best falafel I’ve ever had.

I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve had lots of falafel in NYC. And Oasis is better. Theirs is light and moist, with wonderful crunchy skin. It was topped with tahini sauce, a little creaminess to offset the heaviness. I would have loved a few more options for toppings, but I wasn’t complaining. Based on what I thought of the place coming in, I was already coming out way ahead on this dining experience.

she said:

I’m done trying to come up with plays on the “diamond in the rough” pun…. you know, because of how it’s in the diamond district and because of how it’s sort of like an unpolished rock, but then once you give it a chance you see that it’s really more like a precious gem. Get it? Get it?

Okay, well, my point is that this place is more than a tad out of place. I mean, who decides to open a restaurant in the back of an already weird jewelry mart with no windows and no visibility from the street? Oasis Cafe! That’s who! And I’m so glad they did.

I had the veggie combo, which includes hummus, baba ganoush, falafel and stuffed grape leaves or tabouli  (I chose the grape leaves). Some of the best hummus and baba ganoush I’ve ever had. The plate could feed two people (even two people who were very hungry because they spent their lunch breaks looking at diamond rings… pause for happy dance) and costs $6.99.

I also ordered a cup of lentil soup, which was less impressive. They’d pureed it into a baby food-like pulp and went a little loco with the black peppero.

I’ll go back to try the spinach pie plate, a special I didn’t see until it was too late. I tried to change my order approximately thirty seconds after saying I wanted the veggie combo, only to notice it was already waiting for me on the counter. Lickety split, their service is.

As it turns out, this diamond in the rough is a girl’s best friend. Too far?

Bird’s Nest, Lincoln Park

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

he said:

Loyal blog readers (that would be you mom) already know that I’m a Cincinnati Bengals fan. And when they’re playing, I like to watch at a bar and eat some good bar food. So when a friend I hadn’t seen since high school, Mike, suggested we meet up, I was up for it, no matter where we went.

Mike suggested we meet at a bar called Bird’s Nest. Sounded good to me. I’ve been so lucky with bar food since I’ve moved to Chicago that I invented a stupid word that no one else has started using yet: barmet. (Gourmet with the word bar in front. Oh you got that? And you’re still not going to start using it? Oh well, I’ll keep trying.)

Best wings in Chicago?

I didn’t realize that we were going to a place that had been voted as the best wings in the city.

Now, I wouldn’t call wings barmet. They are bar food. When done well, they should be simple and spicy. You try to fancy that up, you lose what makes it good.

But I can see why the wings were voted the best. They were delicious. Juicy meat, crisp fried skin, and spicy sauce, that was the perfect heat. Well, I could have gone hotter, but Gal was there and I didn’t want to get puffy red lips and spicy, gradoux fingernails that come with wings. (Or at least, how I eat wings.)

And I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Mike’s brother-in-law was there, and about 6 of his friends, and I swear I saw them order about 100 wings. No joke.

But yeah, they were good. The wings were as good as the Bengals were bad that Sunday. With the Bengals, maybe next year, but I hope to get back to Bird’s Nest sooner.

she said:

The Bird’s Nest boasts that its menu is not typical bar food.  I say, time for a reality check, Bird’s Nest.  I say, do what you’re good at.  I say, be proud of what you are: a sport’s bar with a typical, albeit extended, menu.  Okay okay, they do have a few – and I mean a few – more vegetarian options than most bars (hummus, stuffed mushrooms).  I wasn’t a big fan of the veggie panini I ordered, but what did I expect? I was surrounded by hundreds of sports-tuned televisions and super fans pounding chicken wings.  Go to Bird’s Nest if you want to watch football, hang out with your friends, eat wings and drink beer.  If you’re looking for culinary excellence, Bird’s Nest is not the place to find it, but did I really need to tell you that?  It is, after all, a neighborhood sports bar.