05 December 2009
Lunch at BenjYehuda, Chicago
My son-in-law is working for a new restaurant in Chicago. It's called BenjYehuda Urban Street Food. The owner, who's name is Benji, was inspired by street food that's prepared in cities around the world, featuring fresh, locally grown ingredients prepared according to authentic local styles. BenjYehuda is modeled after the food stands on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem.
So in the spirit of street food, the offerings at BenjYehuda are simple and straightforward. You can have falafel, chicken, or steak (shawarma). You can have it in a pita, wrapped in flat bread (laffa), or in a box - on lettuce as a salad or on rice as an entree. Then you can add any combination of toppings or side items. These include hummus, baba ganoush, tahini sauce, hot sauce, pickles, Jerusalem salad, corn salad, red cabbage salad, and carrot salad. You also can get a sampler consisting of three mini pitas, one of each entree with the toppings of your choice.
My wife and daughter both had steak, in a box, on lettuce. I had falafel in flat bread. Both versions were very good. My falafel sandwich was very generous in size. Two people could share it and still be satisfied, especially if you also have an order of fries.
I don't know if french fries are authentic Israeli street food. It's been more than 30 years since I was there. But they are authentic American street food, and the fries at BenjYehuda are great. They are hand cut and very crispy. If you want, you can get cheese to dip your fries into.
For dessert, you can get a churro. We didn't have one, but they looked good.
The restaurant is open through lunch. Most of the patrons work at nearby offices in the Loop. You also can get takeout.