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You can take a mini vacation to almost any region of the world, all within the boundaries of Chicago.  Chinatown, Devon Ave (Indian), Argyle Street (Vietnamese), Little Italy, Greek Town … we have it all.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised to stumble upon a street lined with a number of middle-eastern restaurants, markets, and bakeries right by the Kedzie Brown Line stop.

 

And after living in Chicago for 6 years, I also shouldn’t have been surprised to see the EL (elevated) train running at street level.  While quite a few of the EL stops are underground, and most are above ground, very few EL stops actually run through the streets.  

Mike and I had headed to the area with the intent of trying out Prince Creperie, which I have been wanting to try for months.  The creperie was closed, but thankfully there was no shortage of delicious options.  I was so excited to see Noon-O-Kabob and Semiramis restaurants along the same street – restaurants that I have heard so much praise for, though I never knew where they were located.  On a whim, we chose to try Semiramis first, though I know we’ll be back to try the other restaurants along the street!

I loved the decor of the restaurant.  It was so simple and elegant, with lovely tapestries and lamps giving it a middle-eastern flair.  It felt perfect for any occasion – a dinner with family or friends, or even a date.  And it’s BYOB, too!

While the menu has far more items catering to omnivores, as a vegetarian I still needed a few minutes to choose between all the wonderful Lebanese classics: Hummus, Tabbouleh, Falafel, Fattoush, Dolmas, Baba Ghannouj, Fava Beans, Lentils… 

I settled on the vegetarian sampler platter so I could try a bit of everything – Hummus, Baba Ghannouj, Tabbouleh and Dolmas.  The standard platter also comes with Falafel, but I was craving something lighter.  I asked if I could substitute the Falafel for the Fattoush salad and it was no trouble at all.

And I was so glad that I made the substitution, because the Fattoush was one of the standouts of the platter.  The salad (pictured above: upper left) was so refreshing, tart, and tangy.  Cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, radishes, and toasted pita bits were tossed in a lemon & olive oil dressing spiced with sumac, a lemony spice popular in Middle Eastern cuisine.

The Tabbouleh, Hummus, and Baba Ghanouj were all good too, but the dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) were simply FANTASTIC.  I honestly think these were the best dolmas I have ever had.  They weren’t as acidic tasting as many I have had before.  These were comforting, with a filling of fluffy rice and savory tomato.

Although the night didn’t go as planned, it was a perfect evening, full of delicious, authentic food that Mike and I both enjoyed tremendously.

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever stumbled upon a fantastic foodie-find?

What’s your favorite Middle-Eastern food?