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Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Taste of Chicago by Margot Justes

I may have mentioned once or twice before that I love to travel, but I also love going out to eat and trying new things. I was raised on simple fare and going to eat in restaurants was not the thing to do. You ate at home.

The one thing my father instilled in me was the love of travel; we moved frequently and lived in some pretty amazing places. Maybe that is why to this day I have wander lust and always want to see more.
Growing up in that environment allowed me the freedom to sample different cultures, but as I matured and became more independent my taste for travel grew as did my palate.

I live near am amazing city. I'm 35 minutes away from Chicago and that means world class museums, theatre, opera, orchestra and food. The restaurants are simply amazing. All of that... just minutes away.
Not raised on fast foods and to this day, the only fast food  I buy is from the Pita Inn, love their falafel. Falafel is basically ground chick peas and assorted seasonings formed into balls and quickly deep fried. Stuffed in a pita bread with tomatoes, lettuce and tahini sauce makes a yummy sandwich. (Tahini sauce is made from sesame seeds)

Chicago and the surrounding area offers amazing restaurants, from The Lettuce Entertain You chain of restaurants, like Everest that provides an exquisite dining experience, to the very casual and delightful R. J. Grunts with a funky menu in the Lincoln Park area.
And of course, any discussion of fine restaurants must include Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, and I don't even have to whisper the chef's name, but I will...Rick Bayless.

Inexpensive fare to the very high end and everything in between can be found in Chicago. And because we're so culturally rich and diverse, all ethnic foods abound.

One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago is the Russian Tea Room, first because of its location, as you step out of the Art Institute and look across Michigan Avenue, you can see the sign. They serve traditional Russian fare and the black bread as the saying goes-is to die for.  Their afternoon tea is reasonable and delicious.
Another favorite is Sayat Nova, a Middle Eastern gem on Ohio Street, off of Michigan Ave. A small intimate place with a big sign. It has been in that location for decades, charming Middle Eastern decor with a great menu selection from kebabs to couscous. And the lentil soup is amazing.  

Margot Justes
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