|MORE HOT 'HOODS:|
Although the area was predominantly Jewish for the first part of the last century, today you can find a Korean barbecue house down the block from a Persian eatery and a Mexican pizza joint for kids across from a Thai restaurant, all serving their ethnic communities as well as those who venture from other places.
And restaurants aren't the only way to get good food in the area. There are several great Middle Eastern bakeries and ethnic markets.
Whether you're looking for a meal or a snack, here are some options:
Clark Market, 4853 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-479-2262. This grocery sells fresh fruits and vegetables as well as meat and seafood. It's easy to pull together a quick meal by picking up some of the shop's pre-marinated bulgogi meats (for home grilling), a few salads and kim chees (a spicy mix of pickled cabbage and other veggies) from the salad bar, and a package of kim bap (vegetable maki rolls) for appetizers.
Great Sea Chinese Restaurant. One of a handful of Chicago's Chinese-Korean restaurants, Great Sea does a serviceable job with its Chinese offerings, but most likely you'll see customers eating three things: jal jang myun (a spaghetti-type dish in a thick, brown, soy-based sauce), jam pong (a spicy seafood soup) and Korean chicken wings (wing drumsticks in a thick, sweet and spicy sauce). You may also notice that they're spicing them up with kim chee. These dishes are prepared to Korean tastes; if you're going to order them without any heat, it's not worth it.
Jaafer Sweets. You can smell the butter as you walk into this friendly bakery and confectionery. Choose from a large array of baklavas -- phyllo- and nut-based pastries. Or go for something a little different, such as the rosewater-, pistachio- and shredded wheat-based bouma or the lovely cheese-based kunafa. A small candy section features silver, gold and pastel Jordan almonds as well as wrapped nut and nougat candies. Take some home or savor a few with a strong cup of Turkish coffee.
Kang Nam Restaurant. This large strip mall eatery is regarded by many as the best Korean barebecue house in the city. Diners grill fabulous marinated beef short ribs (kalbi), beef (bulgogi), chicken, pork, seafood and more at the table (with the help of the waitstaff). Each meal comes with rice, soup and no fewer than a dozen panchan (little salads and pickles), one more delightful than the next. But grilled meats aren't the only things this restaurant does well; the fried dumplings and chap chae also are terrific.
Noon O Kabab. When this 6-year-old Persian eatery expanded its dining room about a year ago, there was fear it might let its quality decline. Happily, it has managed to maintain its tender, perfectly marinated and grilled kebabs, its generous portions of nutty, buttery, perfectly separated basmati rice, top-notch hummus, tasty vegetable stews and a nice yogurty spinach borani. And, best of all, Noon O's notoriously grumpy waitress has lately been seen smiling.
Shawerma King. Sit-down restaurants are fine, but when you're in a hurry to catch the subway or just want a meal you can neatly hold in your hand, Shawerma King, with its terrific tightly rolled sandwiches, reigns supreme. Although it has decorated six-table dining room, Shawerma King sells most of its $1.98 chicken and beef sandwiches from behind the counter, where the juicy spits of spiced meat roast and turn slightly crisp. Pre-packaged hummus, baba ghanoush and tabbouleh from the deli case are also excellent.
Monica Eng is a Tribune staff writer.
Originally published May 1, 2002. Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times