Devon is a great place to be Jewish in Chicago on Easter even if most of the Jewish food places were closed for the Passover holiday. Here's a some tips accumulated during a long afternoon:
Tip #1: Zim's logic may be unassailable, but the results did not bore him out. Zim is a noted non-fan of buffet's unlike VI. Still, Zim notes that the time to try a buffet is when a place first opens. The new buffet is a ringer, designed with hopes of luring new customers. Thus, a new buffet should be a good buffet. On that theory, we tried the new/second location of Sher A Punjab in the old Moti Mahal space on the south side of Devon near Rockwell. Not so hot, including some of the worst tandoor chicken offered on or around Devon. Perhaps Zim already figured in an exception for branches vs. new establishments.
Tip #2: Give Zim's theory another shot. Madras Palace is a recently opened S. Indian restaurant WITH a buffet. One of the things that bugs me about not eating at the buffet is that I just want everything. Madras Palace gives you a chance to try everything southern style. In the variation of the hot naan to the table at the better buffets, Madras brings you fresh made dosai's to your table. The buffet including that odddity of Indian cuisine, the bland iddly, for VI donuts a/k/a vada; about four vegetable curries, two soups (if you count sambal as soup, I am not sure) and two colors of rice. There were some interesting chutneys including an orange onion spread.
Tip #3 If anyone asks you where was the first non-freestanding McDonalds, tell them at 2345 W. Devon. McDonald's first foray into an urban enviroment failed miserably. Luckily, World Import has taken over the space nicely. For foodies, there were some really great products at low, low prices. Getting back to Zim, he knows I have a slighly accentuated, unfathonable fetish with Bombay, and he will be happy to know I sated in well at World Import by picking up my own tiffin box set. We shall be setting the chowhounditas off to school now with a new twist. They also had some neat electronic roti makers (a/k/a electronic tortilla presses).
Tip #4 I cannot believe there is a nicer shopkeeper than Sam, running the barebones Assyrian outlet called Atour Food Grocery and Gifts. Maybe I should say he is select with his offerings. I mean there was enough to buy: a kosher Israeli mango pickle, really terrific not outlandisly puckery homemade torshi (pickles), grape molases, but I would have willingly paid for the big container of gamour (or it might have been called gamor) that he insisted on giving us. Gamor is some kind of homemade butter/cheese thing Sam cooks up in the back of the store. He says everyone in Persia, Syria and parts unknown know what it is. It is amazingly rich. The remains of my taste coated my tongue for a long time afterwards. Sam recommends gamour with honey or jam for breakfast. Besides giving us a big old container of gamour to take home, Sam gave us colored Easter eggs and some rock candy, plus the advice that the rock candy (from Persia) settles an upset stomach.
Tip #5: I could not leave Sam without asking him where to go for Assyrian food. He told me about his friend Shedrak and his place over on Sawyer near Lawrence. He gave me a copy of Little Shedrak's menu, and it says right on it, "Good Home Cooking", but I would surely not doubt Sam. The menu is pretty interesting. Four main plates: gus, kabab, chicken and tikka, daily specials including someone's favorite stuffed dish, pacha and a bunch of "everyday specials, including potato chopped, kubbat Mosul and baby chicken. They also serve breakfast, and under that catagory is something listed simply as cream. Must be the famous gamour! I am anxious to try Little Shedrak's for breakfast lunch or dinner. Sam stamped my menu with his chop as a way of introduction when I show up.
"New" Sher a Punjab
2525 W. Devon Ave., Chicago
Tel: (773) 262-2080
2345 West Devon Avenue
Chicago Illinois 60659
Atour Food Grocery and Gifts
2301 W. Devon
4749-51 N. Sawyer