Our guide to the best spots for coffee, sandwiches, cheap dinners, and more essentials near the University of Chicago.
'Hyde Park' on Serious Eats
If only for the soup, some eel, and anything fried, Kikuya in Hyde Park is a restaurant worth checking out.
I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk about restaurants they care about in Hyde Park. Instead, you usually hear people adamantly professing how little they care for the local restaurants. Admittedly, Hyde Park's restaurant scene is about as hip and happening as people who use the phrase "hip and happening" un-ironically. Well, with the opening of A10, there might actually be something worth caring about.
When I ordered the Don't Tell Tal, the cashier looked at me incredulously. She asked me I knew how big the sandwich was. I lied and told her I did, and, besides, I was hungry. Well, truth be told, I'm dumb. Don't get me wrong. The sandwich was delicious. I just didn't come anywhere close to finishing it.
While Chicago may not be a college town, per se, Hyde Park is certainly a "college neighborhood." In a way, The Med is Hyde Park's answer to a the prototypical college town restaurant. The walls are covered with unrelated, incoherent, yet somehow interesting art, and the art is covered with unrelated, incoherent, and not-so-interesting graffiti. This is unadorned, but solidly good food.
Shawarma often has the potential to leave you heavy and bogged down afterwards, but the abundance of vegetables in this version from The Nile kept this from happening.
Though unexpected, the deep flavors of Indian spices mix well with the fattiness of Southern soul food. Moist chicken, bright red with spice, played well with tangy raw onion and juicy tomatoes.
Better known for their varied display of pastries and baked goods, I thought I would check out what Bonjour Bakery & Cafe had to offer in the way of savory options.
Robert figured that on a college budget, most University of Chicago students won't have an opportunity any time soon to eat food from the world's best restaurants, so why not bring it to them? Students joke that with his random lottery that selects the diners, it's harder to get a spot at one of his dinners than it is to get into the school.
The tuna steak at Medici is like laying up in front of the 18th water hazard when you already have a stroke on your opponent: it is effective, it is calculated, and it is safe.
There are reasons clichés are employed so often—they work. Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and the refreshing and peppery crunch of arugula are all familiar flavors, but no less delicious because of this. The addition of melted havarti cheese oozing out the sides of the toasted italian bread certainly helps.
While the turkey sandwiches of my youth were riddled with mounds of dry, barely-swallowable turkey, The Little Pecorino at Zaleski & Horvath MarketCafe is propelled forward by a great blend of pesto, mayo, roasted red peppers, and, of course, pecorino.
Good Sicilian-style slices are a rare commodity in this part of the world. Little did I know that some of the best could be found in a quiet, family-run market, wrapped in plastic. Oh, and did I mention they're only $1.50?
Take a lightly toasted rice patty, top it with spicy mayo, chopped maguro (tuna), green onion, and tobiko (fish eggs), and voilà: you've got sushi pizza (er, "pizza"). The crew of a Japanese TV show that features wacky "Japanese" food served at Japanese restaurants in America visits Edo Sushi in Hyde Park, New York, to try the restaurant's sushi pizza. Although the hosts initially seem skeptical of the nontraditional dish, they end up liking it.
From the New York Times: A good place to experience Hyde Park’s cross-cultural vibe is 57th Street. There are tweedy academics rummaging through the dusty shelves at 57th Street Books (No. 1301; 773-684-1300; semcoop.booksense.com), and dapper African-American families sharing deep-dish pizzas at Medici on 57th (No. 1327; 773-667-7394; www.medici57.com). Indeed, Malia and Sasha Obama have held pizza parties at this popular Italian restaurant; just refer to the menu, where new “Obama Eats Here” T-shirts are on sale for $18....
Daniel Zemans, our man in Chicago, checks in with another piece of intel on the Windy City pizza scene. Daniel also blogs about Chicagoland pizza with his friends on the Chicago Pizza Club blog. --The Mgmt. But President-Elect Appears to...
Caffe Florian 1450 East 57th Street, Chicago IL 60637 (Hyde Park; map); 773-752-4100 Each year, nearly two million people visit the Museum of Science and Industry. And though I don’t have the numbers to back it up, I think it’s safe to say a significant number of those visitors decide to enjoy a Chicago-style pizza during their stay in my hometown. But I would guess that virtually none of the out-of-town visitors to the museum know that there is an outstanding pizzeria just a few blocks directly west of the museum. I grew up in Hyde Park, and Caffe...