Since I write for my school’s newspaper, The Phoenix, I will now put my Chicago restaurant reviews under the category “Loyola Phoenix”. Taken straight from what I put into the paper, I will include the articles I write bi-weekly. Enjoy!
College students are always on the hunt for the cheapest eats without traveling far distances. Most of us will spend our nights too busy to go to the dining hall, depending on GrubHub for a low priced meal delivered to our dorms. However, on the weekends, exploring the city leaves students often blowing their money on expensive restaurants and coffee shops. If you’re one of those students desperately in need of a cheap meal, without compromising your health from some cheese fries at Sam’s Chicken & Ribs, there are quite a few options close to campus.
Within a few blocks of the Red Line’s Belmont stop, I found myself stumbling upon a variety of Mediterranean and Mexican cafés that looked appealing. As I walked toward the lake and eventually hit North Broadway Street, I found my cheap-eats destination of choice: Falafill. When on the hunt for a good healthy eat, Mediterranean eateries can never let you down.
Falafill offers a variety of menu items, ranging from pita pockets to lentil soup, all under $10. Of course everything on the menu was so tempting to buy you could easily spend $20 or more, but my trip only cost me $9.50. I decided to go with the Classic Falafel Bowl ($8.50) which comes with four falafels, a side of brown rice and half of a wheat pita. Within five minutes I received my bowl and instead of having the cashier put my toppings on for me, I had the option of going to the Mezza Bar. The Mezza Bar is another way of saying a huge bar of spice-filled, creamy and attractive toppings and sauces. It stands right in front of the small restaurant, surrounded by scarce seating options.
My bowl seemed a bit small at first and with only one trip to the Mezza Bar, I knew I had to pile on my toppings like a mountain if I wanted the most bang for my buck. I ended up choosing some of the most appealing toppings including a Chickpea Salad, Fried Cauliflower, Quinoa Tabbouleh, Jerusalem salad, Tunisian Carrot Salad and plain Hummus. Although the cauliflower was fried, it tasted more on the roasted side. The Jerusalem Salad was a combination of tomatoes, cucumbers and tahini sauce; a great addition to the dry falafels. Other toppings included Baba Ghanoush, Tahini and Tzatziki sauces, Minted Cabbage and Red Pepper Hummus. Being the hummus connoisseur I am, I found the hummus tasting impeccable. Very creamy, fresh and the opposite of what you get at Damen Dining Hall. I didn’t think the brown rice was necessary in the bowl but the small pita worked great for a mini side pita pocket.
Similar to Chipotle, if you’re not a bowl person, you have other options. At Falafill, pita pockets and wraps are available for a smaller price than a bowl. Turkey marinated in yogurt and spices, Steak marinated in middle eastern herbs, Spicy Sujuk Sausage, and Curry Falafel are the other options alongside the Classic Falafel. Every topping at the Mezza Bar can come as a side for $3.50 if you just cannot load everything onto your bowl. Mine was so massive that I could not even finish half of it, making it a great leftover when I’m not in the mood to head to the dining halls. If you somehow manage to conquer a whole bowl and have room for a little something extra, try to grab a piece of Baklava ($1) for dessert.
For the month of October, Chicago Marathon Runner John Paul created the featured “Champ Wrap” filled with grilled portabella, spicy slaw, Baba Ghanoush, sweet potato fries and tahini-yogurt sauce. When you buy the wrap, a portion of the cost will go towards the Aids Foundation of Chicago. While donating to a good cause and eating healthy on a cheap budget, be sure to stop by Falafill for a good Mediterranean fix.