Where To Eat In Chicago, The 2015 ISNA Edition
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Chicago is a wonderful city with lots of food options. There’s no way to list them all. But here are the places that most Muslims from outside Chicago visiting to attend ISNA would be interested in eating.
I’m sure some of my fellow natives would disagree with some of these choices or ask why I left something out. But this list is catered for the Muslim visitor to Chicago, so it focuses on Halal meat options, while making sure to include famous touristy type eateries so you can visit Chicago and feel like you ate here right. We’ve also got a list of things to eat near the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, so you can eat good without having to trek downtown or into the suburbs for a good meal.
So scroll down, find what you want to eat, and go enjoy some Windy City eats while making du’a’ for the staff at Muslim Eater.
Near the Convention Center
Chicago Style Pizza: Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s
This is quite possibly the most famous food Chicago is known for. This stuff is huge, thick, doughy, saucy, cheesy, and very filling. While it certainly doesn’t match the traditional idea of a flatbread pizza, it sure is delicious. The most famous choices are Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s which are constantly compared to one another with locations close to ISNA and all over the city and suburbs. Which one’s better? You’ll have to try them out for yourself and see!
9415 W Higgins Rd Rosemont, IL 60018
Distance from convention: 4 minute drive, 19 minute walk
What to order: Cheese, spinach, or giardiniera pepper
Wait times: Long, and pizzas take 30-40 mins, but can order while waiting
650 N Northwest Hwy Park Ridge, IL 60068
Distance from convention: 12 minute drive
What to order: Cheese, the Lou (spinach, mushroom, three cheeses and Roma tomatoes), with butter crust
Wait times: 15, but can order while waiting
Brazilian Steakhouse Lamb: Fogo de Chao
(Must call ahead for no wine in marinade)
Brazilian steakhouses are a thing in Chicago and there just so happens to be a Fogo de Chao walking distance from the convention center. Fogo de Chao happens to source Halal lamb from New Zealand. They serve either lamb chops or leg of lamb. While the lamb chops are only seasoned with salt, the leg is marinated in white wine, so call ahead and ask for an order without any wine. The chain is very familiar with Halal and will gladly make you lamb without any alcohol.
Fogo de Chao
5460 Park Pl Rosemont, IL 60018
Distance from convention: 10 minute walk across the street
What to order: Lamb (call ahead to order without wine), seafood, sides, dessert
Italian Seafood: Villagio
Imagine a nice sit-down Italian restaurant that serves seafood and pasta in large portions, complimentary flatbread, good service, at great prices all in an outlet mall. Weird, huh? That’s what Villagio, located in the new outlet malls that have opened up right across from the Donald E. Stephens convention center.
5220 Fashion Outlets Way Rosemont, IL 60018
Distance from convention: 12 minute walk across the street (free parking for a few hours if they have openings)
What to order: Seafood, pasta, pizza
Crêpes: Cream of the Crêpe
Want breakfast for cheaper than inside the Hyatt or convention center? Cream of the Crêpe is where you want to go. They’ve got tons of sweet crêpes, but they also have savory breakfast ones with eggs like the Atlantic with smoked salmon. Best of all, the prices are excellent.
Cream of the Crêpe
8 S NW Hwy Park Ridge, IL 60068
Distance from convention: 12 minute drive
What to order: Sweet crêpes, savory crêpes
Spicy Gyro Pizza: Italian Express
The famous legend of Chicago. The pizza itself by no means is anything special or memorable. But if you want a fix of spicy, salty, fatty gyros with an obscene amount of spice all over them, the forgettable pizza becomes the gyro delivery vessel that somehow hits the need-Halal-meat-in-my-mouth spot.
2307 W Devon Ave Chicago, IL 60659
What to order: Spicy gyro pizza, nothing much else
Pakistani: AnmolIf you ask Chicagoans where they like to go eat Pakistani food on Devon, they say Anmol. Great food, good service, and the meat is cooked over charcoal. Plus, I once helped in a Ramadan food drive where the owner helped provide meals to less fortunate Muslims in Chicago. If you haven’t been to Devon in a while, this is where you want to go.
2858 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60659
What to order: Any grilled meat
Tandoori: Khan BBQKhan BBQ cooks their meat over charcoal, too, but in a special way: in a tandoori oven. The restaurant has two of them so you can get fresh naan and meat that’s on super long skewers that go deep into the tandoor, reaching temperatures well over 1,000 F and cooking the meat unlike anything else. Oh, and they were featured on Chicago’s PBS channel, WTTW, on the food show Check, Please!
2401 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60659
What to order: Chicken Boti, Naan, any other tandoori item
Kyrgyzstani: Jibek JoluPretty much as unique as Halal food gets in Chicago. Jibek Jolu offers food that is a mix of Russian, Turkish, Chinese, Indian, and Afgahni cuisine. That means you not only get rice and meat, but noodles, dumplings, exotic sides and salads, and so much more.
5047 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
Ice Cream: The Chocolate ShoppeIf you’re eating at Devon getting Desi mihtai for dessert might make sense. But why not follow up a heavy meal of biryani, nihari, botis and kabobs with ice cream? Just 15 minutes west of Devon is The Chocolate Shoppe, a Madison, WI franchise with independently owned shops throughout the country, has decadent ice cream that has Devon goers talking because of their insane amount of flavors. The flavor “This **** Just Got Serious” is vulgar, but delivers salted caramel ice cream with sea salt fudge and something interesting: salted cashews!
The Chocolate Shoppe
5337 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60646
4041 Dempster St Skokie, IL 60076
Chicago-style Pan Pizza: Pequod’s
Chicago-style pizza is hated by many New Yorkers, but Anthony Bourdain liked one spot that served is a bit different: Burt’s Place in Morton Grove. Thing is, Burt’s Place has odd hours, requires reservations, and only takes cash. Instead, try Pequod’s which was started by Burt himself before he went solo. The trademark of Peqoud’s is its caramelized cheese crust: it’s awesome. This is where to eat if you want Chicago-style pizza that’s different than the major chains.
8520 Fernald Ave Morton Grove, IL 60053
What to order: Pizza!
Fogo’s Peri PeriBad news: Nando’s Peri Peri Chicken, the famous South African and UK cheeky Portuguese-Style chicken joint that serves halal chicken, is not Halal upon opening in the US. Good news: Who cares, because Fogo’s Peri Peri is. The chicken is supposedly marinated in the sauce made from the red African bird’s eye chile peppers for 24 hours before being parked then grilled up upon ordering. Speaking of sauce, if you like sauce, this chicken is saucy.
Fogo’s Peri Peri
4915 Oakton Skokie, IL 60077
What to order: Half of chicken, spicy if you like heat
Afghani: Kabul HouseEvery good city worth its weight in Halal options has an Afghani restaurant. In Chicago, that’s Kabul House. The Kabuli pilau is perfect, light and sweet from the raisins and red peppers, while the kabobs and chicken are savory excellence. The killers, though? The Bulanee, stuffed potato, leek, and scallion pancakes, and the Mantoo, dumplings filled with ground beef covered in yogurt and tomato sauces. Just wow.
4949 Oakton St, Skokie, IL 60077
Broasted Chicken: Mr. BroastThis place came up fast in Chicagoland and is now a Muslim community favorite. What exactly is broasted chicken besides a place with that ubiquitous happy chicken on it? Imagine a deep fryer and a pressure cooker had their nikah performed. Their baby would be a broaster: a pressure-cooker deep fryer which fries food faster and better. Broasted chicken is ultra-fast deep fried chicken. While they do offer a ton of variety, if you’re at a place called Mr. Broast, you should get broasted chicken like their popular Zinger Burger with a side of fries seasoned with chat masala.
7947 Golf Rd, Morton Grove, IL 60053
What to order: Zinger burger, Peri Peri wrap, fries
Burgers, Fries, and Shakes: Epic Burger
Note: Avoid the Epic Sauce, it contains white wine
Chicago’s upscale Halal burger. This place because famous once news broke out that Creekstone Farms beef is certified Halal, because that’s where their beef is form. Epic Burger actually embraced Creekstone’s Halal status and even blogged about it. It must be noted that their burger is flawed: it’s underseasoned and overcooked. What’s worse for Muslims is their Epic Sauce is made with dijon mustard that contains white wine. But you’d still have a great time going there; it’s an excellent place to take your family for some quality burgers made with some of the best beef in the world, along with excellent hand-cut fries and milkshakes. Check out our guide on how to order Epic Burger to be better (http://muslimeater.com/2015/04/21/hack-how-to-order-a-better-epic-burger-and-have-epic-sauce-without-white-wine-in-it/) and get your burger on.
4999 Old Orchard Center Skokie, IL 60077
What to order: Burgers, avoid the Epic Sauce, be sure to use our guide!
A Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar. Think surf and turf but instead of Red Lobster not only is the place much more high-end, you can eat the beef there. Roka Akor at one point did source Creekstone Farms beef but has since switched to Greater Omaha steaks, which is also Halal certified. According to a user on Zabihah.com, “The manager also assured us that he can have our steaks cooked on a separate clean grill to ensure no contact with any of the non-Halal meat.” What’s nice about the Skokie location unlike the downtown one? There’s free parking.
4999 Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie, IL 60077
What to order: Steak, sushi
Northwest Suburbs (Near Schaumburg)
Suburban Steakhouse: David Burke’s GrillhouseDavid Burke’s Primehouse is one of the best in Chicago, but they just opened up a suburban location in Schaumburg called Grillhouse. Perfect to enjoy a top steakhouse in an area where you may be visiting family and can actually park your car.
David Burke’s Grillhouse
1301 American Ln, Schaumburg, IL 60173
Wildberry Pancakes & CafeVoted the best pancakes in Chicago. This is the breakfast spot to hit up when you’re ready to graduate from IHOP. The quality of the ingredients and flavor of everything at Wildberry is what makes people stand in long lines to get in. Which, by the way, get there right at open on weekends. Otherwise, expect to wait up to an hour.
Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe
Woodfield Village Green, 1383 N Meacham Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60173
What to order: Pancakes, French toast, or waffles with fruit compote, omelets
Ice Cream: CapannariProbably the most DL ice cream shop in all of Chicagoland, probably because it’s hiding in downtown Mt. Prospect between Schaumburg and Skokie. It can’t be for long, because it was rated the best ice cream shop by Chicago Magazine and a “Top Pick” by Bon Appetite. Capannari was started by a man from Ohio, the ice cream capital of America, and offers legit flavors like actual vanilla bean in your vanilla. Definitely get your ice cream in a cone because they make them in house. The cones are perfection; not too sweet and high on flavor. Best of all though, the ice cream is made in house. You can tell, because every flavor is excellent, from vanilla to blackberry chocolate chip.
Capannari Ice Cream and Catering
10 S Pine St, Mt Prospect, IL 60056
What to order: Ice cream for sure in a cone
Breakfast in the city
Decadent breakfast: The Bongo RoomThere’s a reason why this place is super popular. Imagine sweet breakfast, but with decadent, wild variations of all your old favorites. Like strawberry-banana pancakes, lemon & blackberry hotcakes, citrus-ginger snap pancakes, or Oreo-praline flapjacks. For brunch, they serve a “Chocolate Tower French Toast.” This is breakfast for the dessert minded, but you can also order omelets and eggs. Got a bunch of cousins over who are down to grab breakfast right after Fajr? Here’s where to go.
The Bongo Room
Multiple locations, Wabash probably being the least busy one
Doughnuts: Do Rite, Glazed & Infused, or The Doughnut VaultForget cupcakes. Chicago has a handheld dessert that’s worth your time: gourmet doughnuts. Take your pick. Do-Rite delivers excellent, no nonsense doughnuts with the star being anything frosted in their
Valrhona chocolate frosting. Glazed & Infused makes excellent cake doughnuts (try the old fashions or red velvet), and the Doughnut Vault makes quite possibly the absolute best yeasted doughnut on Earth. For a fun breakfast excursion downtown, go chase down some of these doughnuts.
Do Rite Donuts
50 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601
What to order: Anything with Valrhona chocolate on it
Glazed & Infused
Multiple locations (with some suburban outposts on weekends, check the website!)
What to order: Cake doughnuts, like old fashioned or red velvet
The Doughnut Vault
401 N Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60654
What to order: Yeasted glazed doughnut, any special of the day
Coffee: IntelligentsiaFamous amongst coffee lovers all over, Intelligentsia put Chicago on the coffee map. Especially with their Black Cat Project, an evolving espresso that you can order straight, as a latte (try vanilla), or a cortado, iced, however you like all perfectly made by the baristas. If you’re more in a pour over mood, they have perfectly brewed, smooth and floral coffee for that, too. If you’re a home brewer, you’ll be hard pressed not to walk out with a bag of whole beans of your own. They sell them onsite, and they’re super freshly roasted, too.
Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe, location in The Loop on Randolph
Dinner in the city
Dry-Aged Steak: David Burke’s PrimehouseDavid Burke’s Primehouse has steaks that are constantly rated as the best in Chicago. Do you want dry-aged steak? This is where to eat it. Nearly all their beef is from Creekstone to the point where owner Burke only gets it from a specific cow and her offspring because of some special quality to her. Dry-aged beef is more concentrated, beefier, funkier in flavor, and at DB’s you can get steaks aged for 28, 35, 40, 55, and even 75 days! What’s more, the desserts here are incredible.
David Burke’s Primehouse
616 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611
Steak/lamb, colorful dessert, crazy decor: Carnivale
Note: Their beef is Halal from Creekstone, the lamb is Halal from Australia, the veal marmalade bone marrow that comes with the Creekstone New York Strip Steak is not HalalYou know how some restaurants are just dull and dim inside? Not Carivale. The decor is a fiesta for your eyes, which can make your dinner more enjoyable with a large group which the restaurant is known to accommodate well (girls night out, this is where you want to go). You can get great seafood and a variety of steaks, just avoid the bone marrow as it’s made form veal that’s not Halal certified. The other colorful part? The dessert, namely their enormous cotton candy and signature ice cream cake.
702 W Fulton Market Chicago, IL 60661
What to order: Ceviche, guacamole, Ropa Vieja (beef appetizer), Arechera (steak), garlic mashed potatoes, coconut shrimp, lamb (if they have it?) ice cream cake, cotton candy
Steak and seafood with a view: Prime & Provisions
Prime & Provisions opened in 2015, but reviews all over are calling it the best new steakhouse in Chicago Because Prime & Provisions also has excellent seafood. Tuna tartare, crab crakes, lobster. If you’re treating your spouse, one of you can order Halal Creekstone beef, the other can get seafood. That, and the decor is straight out of The Great Gatsby, the view of Chicago River off Wacker is excellent, and the service is unmatched.
Prime & Provisions
222 N Lasalle St Chicago, IL 60601
What to order: Tuna tartare (excellent), crab cakes, lobster, steaks, their burger, housemade ice cream
Also downtown: Roka Akor (River North location)
Dessert in the city
Dessert Destination: Mindy’s Hot ChocolateThere are tons of dessert places in the Windy City but one name keeps coming up as the place to go seek out: Mindy’s Hot Chocolate. The claim to fame beyond the hot chocolate is their warm brioche doughnut, which is coated in sugar, then presented to you with a vat of hot fudge to dip into before you consume it. Oh, and you can snack on housemade caramel corn in between. Yeah, I know.
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Gourmet Ice Cream: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
A Ohio original, Jeni’s has been throned the queen of ice cream in Chicago. The founder and owner, Jeni Britton Bauer, won a James Beard Award for her cookbook on home ice cream and it all started form her shops. The flavors are what makes this place, super unique like Brambleberry Pie and new-age classics like Salty Caramel. But it’s the quality of her ice creams that does it, made from super fresh dairy and ingredients pretty much all in Ohio near their production facility. This is quiet possibly the best ice cream in the US and it exists in Chicago.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
1505 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
3404 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
Vintage Ice Cream Shoppe: Margie’s CandiesStep into the 1920s, literally per from the decor, into a beautifully kept ice cream shoppe from another era from a woman named Margie. Here you can order classic ice creams delivered in massive sundaes
Cupcakes: Sweet Mandy B’sThe cupcakes trend can be a bit overdone, but the ones from Sweet Mandy B’s are where you want to go for cupcake desire fulfillment. What sets them apart from all the rest? They keep winning best cupcake in Chicago. They also either win or get runner up for best bakery, because they got cheesecake, pudding, Boston cream pie, brownies, cookies, and all of that for the one looking beyond the mini cake.
Sweet Mandy B’s
1208 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Banana Pudding: Magnolia BakeryThis New York staple is known for its cupcakes, cakes, and such. But the real star here is its banana pudding, which is literally sold in white styrofoam cups. If you’re in the Loop and somehow have a craving for rich, custardy, banana goodness, you know what to do. Plus, it’ll knock off something from your eventual NYC bucket list right in the Windy City.
108 N State St #128, Chicago, IL 60602
S’More Pie: Hoosier Mama Pie Co.People don’t get as excited for pie like they do for cupcakes or doughnuts. But that’s probably because the pies form your childhood were the cornstarchy, jiggly, overly sweet lacking in flavor pies from your grocery store. Real pie can be the best dessert you ever have, and for that you should hit up Hoosier Mama Pie Co. The key for Muslim Eaters: the S’More Pie. How many Muslims wish they can consume more things marshmallow all the time but can’t because of the evil ingredient known as gelatin? Well, guess what? The S’More Pie at Hoosier Mama contains no gelatin; its marshmallow is made from a housemade meringue. Marshmallow and s’mores lovers, you’re welcome.
Hoosier Mama Pie Co.
1618 W Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622
Also a location in Evanston
What to order: S’More Pie
Al Bawadi GrillThis is where Arab food dreams come true in Chicago. Everything here is excellent, from appetizers to the lamb chops, to the beef, even the fish. The smell of meat over charcoal is like a meal in of itself as you approach the door. While this is a place is best for sit-down meals of large plates of meat with family, there is one sandwich you need to try: the chicken shawarma sandwich. Grilled over charcoal, heavy on turmeric, stuffed into perfect lavash instead of pita bread, and the kicker? Mustard. Try it. Like almost everything else here, it’s great.
Al Bawadi Grill
7216 W 87th St Bridgeview, IL 60455
Main Stop is an example of Halal American fast food done right. The owners, a Mongolian-American family, bought the place from a Muslim who took an old establishment and simply changed the meat to Halal. The Mongolian family kept the meat Halal, and the result is authentic Chicago street food without any ethnic tampering. If you’ve a hot dog fan, start with the Chicago style hot dog, then get a Maxwell Street Polish with grilled onions, mustard, and an addition: sport peppers; it will change your life. Not a hot dog person? Cheesesteaks and Italian Beef are the way to go, with a Gyro sandwich a safe bet. The best, though? The hand-cut fries, double fried, crisp, and salty. Oh, and the entire restaurant is certified Halal by the Halal Advocates of America.
715 S Main St Lombard, IL 60148
What to order: See our review here!
Do you like Halal pepperoni on your pizza? Do you like beef ribs doused in barbecue sauce? Do you like breaded, deep-fried wings coated in honey BBQ sauce? Then eat those three things at Zak’s. Some get the burgers, especially the Sajid Burger; it’s bland and overcooked. Stick with the three above and you will be beyond happy.
931 S Main St, Lombard, IL 60148
What to order: Pizza (pepperoni), ribs, and wings (spicy honey BBQ); gyro pizza (if you’re adventurous, because it’s smothered in tzatziki sauce and cucumbers)
One day, a location of the chain, Wing Stop, suddenly started serving Halal wings. Muslims flocked and the rest is history. The backstory: a Muslim owned some Wing Stops and decided to make this location Halal, sourcing chicken from Crescent Farms, implementing a different frier just for Halal, and different sauce tossing bowls, as well. The highlight of Wing Stop? Over a dozen different sauces to choose from for your order.
17W629 E Roosevelt Rd Villa Park, IL 60181
What to order: Wings, of course, but be sure to ask for Halal.
Nihari: Shahi Nihari
Staying in or visiting relatives in the west suburbs and want your fix of Desi food. No need to trek to Devon. Shahi Nihari is where it’s at. With excellent nihari and fresh naan, and good service with good decor to boot. Oh, and like any good Desi restaurant, they’ve maximized how to serve you: the restaurant also is Hot N Spicy, Desi style American, and Chopped, Desi style Chinese. The fun never ends!
541 West North Avenue, Villa Park, IL 60181
What to order: Nihari and naan
Arab Food Options in West Suburbs
Shawarma Express Inn
898 E Roosevelt Rd, Lombard, IL 60148
What to order: Can’t go wrong with Kufta Kabob, Shish Kabob, and Chicken Shish Kabob, all of which just so happen to be in the Mix Grill
300 West Roosevelt Road, Lombard, IL 60148
What to order: Chicken shawarma and falafel
Also in the west suburbs: Mr. Broast, Lombard location
What to order: lamb chops, mix grill, fish, chicken shawarma sandwich