I’ve officially found a new favorite restaurant obsession. Middle East Grocery (1512 W. Foster Ave.) is a charming restaurant and grocery store combination in the heart of Andersonville. I stopped in on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, looking for a quick and easy lunch. Before I can even get to my lunch, I have to rave about the grocery store. I was greeted by the smell of warm, fresh pies and falafel. A giant glass case on the far wall is filled with meat and vegetable pies, kibbi (small pastry puffs stuffed with filling), and falafel. Cold cases wrap around the other side, with yogurt, cheeses, pickled vegetables, olives, sauces, dips, salads, and more. Then, you arrive in the large dry food section. Brick oven baked breads, pita chips, and pita are made from scratch in their bakery. The shelves are stocked with nuts, dried fruit, fresh spices, rice, beans, pasta, teas, and coffee. Besides being incredibly well stocked, the grocery offers very reasonable prices. I will definitely be coming back here to stock up on some staples for my pantry (and maybe a couple of goodies too!). For my lunch, I started with the Sauteed Tomato Salad: grilled tomatoes, parsley, garlic, jalapeño, olive oil, and salt. It was absolutely delicious. The tomatoes were grilled perfectly and had just the right amount of spicy. I ordered the Chicken Shawarma Sandwich for my entrée. Wrapped in a warm pita, my sandwich had a generous amount of grilled chicken, lettuce, and pickles. It was topped with two sauces: garlic and dill. I try not to be hyperbolic, but this may be my favorite sandwich. It is beyond delicious. The sauces perfectly compliment the flavor of the chicken and the addition of the pickles is surprising and wonderful.
The seating is limited and I can see how the restaurant would be very busy at peak times or on weekends. Middle East Grocery offers to-go food as well, so you can stop in and grab lunch or dinner to take home with you. Store hours are Mondays through Saturdays from 9:30 am to 8 pm and Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm. Don’t wait, check out this gem today!
RACHEL HOOVLER & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO