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Monday, July 22

Gapers Block

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It's not quite as well known as Old Irving Park, not quite Ravenswood, yet Albany Park is an exciting mix of ethnicities and, yes, cuisine.

Albany Park stretches roughly from California on the east, Pulaski on the west, Bryn Mawr on the north, and Irving Park on the south. But within these boundaries, Koreans, Hispanics, and lily-white North Park University students stroll down the street.

You can learn more about the area in a recent New City article profiling a few restaurants and shops in the area, but here are just a few of our favorite Albany Park eateries. So venture where the Brown Line ends to find a few excellent restaurants from all around the world.

Tre Kronor
Should you happen to find yourself across from North Park and still have an appetite despite the Children of the Corn vibe, head for Tre Kronor. You'll be served delicately prepared Swedish food in a charming dining room or shaded sidewalk patio.

If you find yourself at Tre Kronor in the morning, indulge in any of their array of breakfast breads or a traditional Swedish breakfast. You'll find quality coffee served quickly by decidedly blonde waitresses. But these reviewers believe that Tre Kronor evening menu really shines. Fresh, inventive salads, delicately sauced fish, lingonberried pork. Unlike other Swedish restaurants, Tre Kronor's food sits light in the stomach.

Tre Kronor is located across from North Park University at 3258 W. Foster.

Noon O Kebab
Sometimes, you just need thick Persian yogurt infused with shallots. Right? Well, Noon O Kebab is the place for you. Their ridiculously delicious moosir is the one thing we always, always order. It defies description.

Also delicious are Noon O's many rice specialties. American moms should take note of their dill rice riddled with tender lima beans. And don't overlook the sweet and sour rice. But since "kebab" is part of their name and a large part of their menu, Noon O does indeed deliver an excellent kebab. And if you're still full, try to resist a piece of fresh pastry cooling on the counter.

Noon O Kebab is at 4661 N. Kedzie across from KFC (ew).

Schlegel's Bakery and Cafe
Albany Park doesn't have many cafes, and even fewer as charming and tempting as Schlegel's. This long-awaited spot has a sister location in Lincolnwood, but recently opened on Foster Avenue and serves up incredible pastry, bread, and cakes.

And since the only good coffee in Albany Park used to come from either the White Hen Pantry or Dunkin Donuts, Schlegel's is a welcome new source for good joe. A large cup, a piece of struedel, and you're set.


pj chmiel / July 12, 2004 12:34 PM

3 restaurants and a few pot-shots at a university are a "round-up?" I think you missed the boat here, the neighborhood has a lot more to offer food-wise. I'd expect this to be part one in a series or something, but this is about as telling as saying "Chicago, it has a few hot dog stands."

brenda / July 12, 2004 12:40 PM

no kidding. I think I'll stick with metromix for my 'in depth' neighborhood restaurant reports.

Vito / July 12, 2004 1:05 PM

I was hoping for more, longer reviews. Disappointed here. Too blurby. I don't feel like I get a real taste for what Albany Park has to offer and neither a good reason to go.

Gordon / July 12, 2004 1:29 PM

The three complainants above might have, I dunno, mentioned at least one place Shilo and Brian didn't in order to demonstrate that Albany Park does indeed have "a lot more to offer food-wise."

By the way, Metromix doesn't have an in-depth neighborhood profile of Albany Park (it apparently doesn't count as a neighborhood, judging from their neighborhoods section), but it does mention a handful of other Albany Park spots (published over two years ago) can be found here and here. Their reviews aren't verbose, either.

Gordon / July 12, 2004 1:34 PM

(I wish we could edit our comments after the fact ...)

... but it does mention a handful of other Albany Park spots here and here ...

Vito / July 12, 2004 3:03 PM

I appreciate that it was written, however, it doesn't compel me to visit Albany Park to see what they have. I'm complaining rather that I wish it were more comprehensive (and this may not be the reviewers faults) and a little bit more in-depth. Perhaps if if was one or two of the places at a longer length as is usual with this column. I'm a regular reader and wish there was a little more meat, so to speak, on the bone.

Paul / July 12, 2004 4:46 PM

How about Charcoal Delights on Foster, a much-better-than-average burger/ hot dog/ gyros joint? Char burgers. Good ones.

Shylo / July 13, 2004 8:28 AM

Chill, guys.

We wrote this not to be comprehensive, but rather to mention a few places that people don't think of when discussing Albany Park. Yes, noon o has gotten more visibility lately, but Schlegel's is brand-new and awesome.

This could have been PAGES long. We could have mentioned Victoria's, Charcoal Delights, Paddy Mac's, Mayan Sol, Marie's, etc, etc, etc. And we still would have left something out.

We actually live in Albany Park, and much love to it. It's the bomb neighborhood. So come explore for yourself.

Therese / July 13, 2004 8:54 AM

Also, Where is Schlegel's? There are addresses for everything else but not this.

Vito / July 13, 2004 10:54 AM

I'd like to see more. Maybe a part 2?

seth zurer / July 13, 2004 11:01 AM

Albany Park, I would add the following spots to any eating tour of the hood:

Salam - a little felafel stand in a minimall on Kedzie just south of the brown line tracks. When they're fresh-fried, the felafel are immense, flavor wise, especially when doused with the intense optional jalapeno relish. Also good are the shawermas, both beef and chicken. Apparently there are daily specials too, be sure to ask. I missed the stuffed cornish game hen by 1 hour last time I went.

Bethlehem Sweets - next to salam - if you have any room left afterwards, then stop for a turkish coffee and a baklava or twelve at this bakery. I like the log odf shredded phyllo with almond goo inside, and the hot cheesey pies in the display case at the back.

Great Seas Korean - on Lawrence at Central Park -a single dish restaurant, hot and saucy chicken is crisp fried drumsticks, with a "frenched" bone like a rack of lamb, drowning in sticky sweet chili oil. Yow. Do not order anything else here, you will regret it.

Hourglass Bar - another korean fried chicken joint, you can have a hot and saucy taste off here, and make your own judgement about whether or not great seas version is better, but don't pass up the regular fried chicken. Simple, pristine hunks of juicy bird with daikon and jalapeno garnishes. Skip the sausage plate, unless you like stirfried vienna polish with onions and redpepper, under a blanket of ketchup, no kidding.

The Penguin - Lawrence and Washtenaw, in a little mini mall - argentine ice cream as explicated by Jenny Connell. I'd skip the pizza there, but the empanadas are not bad, especially the mozzarella and ham version.

Han Bat - next to the penguin - he place to get to know seollongtang, the korean beef marrow noodle soup. For abotu 5 bucks, you get an immense bowl of milky white broth with clear rice noodles and bits of the meat of your choice, including tendon. You add salt and kimchi juice to taste and slurp away.

Kang Nam Galbi - in the mall north of Lawrence on Kedzie - Korean BBQ over hardwood lump charcoal. They also do a mean version of BibimBop in a stone bowl, lots of crispy rice and really interesting toppings, far more variety than your run of the mill korean lunch counter, mung bean jelly, shredded seaweed, bean sprouts, carrots, spinach, beef, all married with the bright red korean chili paste.

So Gong Dong Tofu House - about 3800 Bryn Mawr - another korean specialist, hot stone bowls of bubbling soft tofu soup with, again, your choice of meat. I also like their seafood pancake and their bibimbop, which comes in a particularly well-oiled stone pot, so you get lots of crisyp rice.

San Chae Dolsot - in the mall on the south side of lawrence across from the Hourglass - If you can circumnavigate the Lincoln Navigators that are double parked in the lot in front of the belly dancing hookah bar in the same mall, it's well worth going in to San Chae Dolsot. You can get any of the eponymous stone casserole soups, but don't overlook the other alacarte options. They make a particularly tasty broiled mackerel filet.

There are literally hundreds more places, George's King Kebab should be reopening soon, home of the satruday night lambs head stew called pacha. there's ssyal ginseng house, which I've never visited, where you can get a restorative chicken soup to heal all society's ills. There's a filipino karaoke bar further west where you have to pick and choose from the between the tagolog entries in the song book, but where the fellow clients will cheer you on with abandon for a particularly well delivered version of Barbie World, or Sea of Love, and you can get porkrinds and dumplings by the basket. Not to mention all the supermarkets and taquerias and coffeeshops. Anyhoo. Back to work.

For more options, check out or Chowhound. These and many other spots have been written up extensively.

Vito / July 13, 2004 3:36 PM

Damn Seth, you got the goods.

john / July 15, 2004 9:35 PM

You guys live in AP? I wish someone would come up w/ a website for just Albany Park (like The current Chamber of Commerce website is horrible.

CB / July 16, 2004 6:08 PM

Shlegl's is on Foster just east of Kimball. Around 3300 W. Oh, and Starbucks is coming to Albany Park...


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