Friends of mine, who happen to be a couple, told me they had to wait two months to get into the Lincoln Park restaurant Galit ( 2429 N. Lincoln Ave.; GalitRestaurant.com ).
I discovered two reasons for this long wait. One is that it turns out that a certain section of the spot is reserved for walk-insmeaning that they might've gotten in much sooner had they just entered directly one night.
The other is that the cuisine there is most impressive, resulting in a backlog of reservations.
James Beard Award-winning chef Zachary Engel puts his spin on Middle Eastern fare, inspired by travels to Israel as well as co-owner Andres Clavero's Palestinian heritage.
However, as delicious as the food is, be sure to start with something from Galit's drink menu. Whether it's the cocktail of the week ( as I had Last Year's Resolution, although the latest is Danny Took Some Thyme Off ); mocktails and other cocktails, like The Flowering Fox, with vodka, hibiscus, mezcal, sumac, honey and rose; or one of the Middle Eastern wines you can't get anywhere else in Chicago, there's something for everyone.
As for cuisine, my dining companion and I had a hard time deciding which route to take: selecting our own items or going for "The Other Menu," which are all the chef's choices for the evening. ( All of your choices have to be given to the server at once. ) We ultimately decided to do our own thingand it made for a fascinating culinary journey.
I urge you to start with the hummus and the large, round, wood-fired pitas. There are a few hummus varieties, and we went with one with trumpet mushrooms, collard greens, harissa ( giving it a kick ) and gribenes ( chicken-skin cracklings ). However, there wasn't quite enough bread for all the spreads that came next: labneh, pickles, ezme, pumpkin tershi and cipollini onions. My favorite was probably the tershi, a mix of the Turkish chili pepper urfa biber, cumin, garlic, nigella and cilantro. ( Fortunately, the server gave us another pita in our doggy bag. )
Then, there are the entrees. My friend liked the chicken thigh immensely, but I favored the Tunisian-style fried fish, accompanied by dips and herbs. We both also really liked the halloumi ( Jerusalem artichokes, with chiles, kohlrabi and pecans ) as well as the most brilliantly green falafel I've ever had.
But please make room for dessert, especially the phyllo apple pie, which a staffer described as "apple pie meets baklava meets bread pudding"an apt description for a delicious and deceptively complex item. It's no secret why this sweet is a favorite of patrons.
Galit is worthy of the buzz it's been gettingwhether you wait for two months or try your luck and just stop by one night.
Chicago Restaurant Week is here
On Jan. 24-Feb. 9, Choose Chicago will host the return of the city's 13th annual Chicago Restaurant Week ( CRW ).
During Chicago Restaurant Week, diners can enjoy special prix fixe menus at various restaurants throughout Chicago and nearby suburbs. These multi-course meals are $24 for brunch or lunch, and $36 and/or $48 for dinner ( excluding beverages, tax and gratuity ).
More than 400 restaurants will be participating, including at least 350 restaurants in the city neighborhoods and 50 in the suburbs. Just a few of the new restaurants participating in Chicago Restaurant Week 2020 are Offshore Rooftop and Bar ( Streeterville ), Tzuco ( River North ), Il Culaccino ( McCormick Square ) and Queenie's Supper Club ( Near West Side ).
A complete list of restaurants can be found at ChooseChicago.com/chicago-restaurant-week/participating-restaurants.
Note: Profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.