Monday, February 8, 2016

Middle Eastern in the Southwest Suburbs

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- Chicagoland's Middle Eastern Eats 

The Suburb of Bridgeview is considered the hub for Middle Eastern food in the Chicagoland area. However the Middle Eastern food map extends outside into other suburbs as well. Today we take a look at a handful of these spots where shawarma and falafel are the focus of the menu. Enjoy.

Damascus Falafel

Willowbrook, IL

This place was easily the most hopping of all the spots I ate lunch at. This might've been due to the fact I was there in the summer and there were a bunch of kids not in school inside there eating but the food would prove to be well worth the stop. The crowd was right on this one. Seeing as how they have falafel in their name I had to try some and came awy very impressed. These were served in ring form which made for more crispy edging all around. Some of the best I've had.

Falafel Rings > Chicken Rings 

Moving over to the shawarma options this was another big winner. Thinly sliced, well browned pieces of chicken shawarma get wrapped up in fresh grilled pita bread along with garlic sauce and pickles. If not for an upcoming spot this would be my favorite eat of this round-up.

Chicken Shawarma 

Pita Land

Hickory Hills, IL

This place was my most recent stop on this round-up, no I didn't go to all these places in one swoop. Haha. Upon entering any shawarma shop the first thing I'm doing is checking out the spits. If you don't have one up and running I'm not ordering any. It kind of defeats the whole purpose if you're going to pre-cut the meat and reheat it on the flattop. So when I saw that their chicken shawarma was basically raw meat I knew I was going with the beef, which looked nice and crisp from cooking.

Beef Shawarma 

Nice call by me. This was an excellent beef shawarma sandwich. It came wrapped like one of those burritos as big as your head type spots with lots of filling inside on top of the meat. I usually go with chicken over beef if both look good but if I'm ever back here it will beef all the way.

The Insides

Brooklyn Halal

Worth, IL

Right down the road from Bridgeview along Harlem avenue is this place specializing in both pizza and grilled chicken. My buddy put me onto it and their chicken. Its wood grilled and a half chicken comes cut in half and splattered with garlic sauce. It's an interesting presentation that might not make for the best food porn pic, or is it pornographic as can be? I'll let you decide. I didn't have an orgasm or anything while eating but I sure did enjoy it. Lots of bang for your buck in this one. Ok I'll stop.

Charcoal Grilled Chicken

Al Basha

Palos Heights, IL

Here we have a place that you kind of have to be a local to know about. That or a crazy person when it comes to finding places to eat. The type who will pull into a large strip mall lot just to get a better idea of what type of businesses are there. Tucked away in a corner is this Mediterranean banquet hall where you can also grab lunch and or dinner. I opted for a beef shawarma, since the spits were in the kitchen I kind of just played it out and was pretty happy with my lunch. The best part of it was the pickled veggies they include as a topping on their shawarma sandwiches.

Beef Shawarma Sandwich

Pita Falafel

Palos Hills, IL

Also on Harlem is the generically named Pita Falafel. I've always wondered about this drive-thru only spot that I think used to go by another name with different ownership. Is that Taco Bell neon in the front window? Haha. After a purchase at my buddies place, shout out to Martin & Martin Jewelers, best in the biz. I didn't want to leave my car with it in there so I figured why not finally try this place out. I went to the ordering window and got myself a chicken shawarma sandwich. There's not many other options on the menu aside from beef shawarma, grape leaves, falafel and hummus. After pulling up to the window I waited about five minutes for my food which was perfectly fine as I watched him shave the meat off the spit. No pre-slicing here, at least not on this day.

Chicken Shawarma - Shrak Bread, Garlic Sauce, Pickles

First thing you notice is the wonderful toasting job of the wrap. This made the flatbread even more flavorful releasing some extra flavor. The insides were every bit as good. Perfect chicken meat with just the right amount of sauce and pickles to even out each bite. This was as good if not better than beloved spots like Tuhama's and Hamido out in Dearborn Michigan. I've only been in once so I cant comment on consistency but I sure hope it's there. I've been looking for a spot around here to match the best from there and I think this place might be it. See ya next time.

The Insides

Damascus Falafel
10s410 Kingery Hwy #3
Willowbrook, IL 60527
(630) 481-4197

Pita Land
7831 95th St
Hickory Hills, IL 60457
(708) 599-8054

Brooklyn Halal
10607 Harlem Ave
Worth, IL 60482
(708) 827-5340

Al Basha
7216 W College Dr
Palos Heights, IL 60463
(708) 671-1440

Pita Falafel
10348 Harlem Ave
Palos Hills, IL 60465
(708) 576-8405

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