A Taste of Diversity

by Eric Scrogum

escrogum@vikings.northpark.edu

Food in Albany Park is all about variety and authenticity. A walk down Lawrence will reveal cuisine from all different types of cultures. The food scene you will find in this neighborhood is an experience to be seen and tasted. From Mexican to Middle Eastern, hot dogs to banh mi, Albany Park is like a food court of the world.

The ever-growing selection of restaurants in Albany Park is due to its cultural diversity and the integrity of locally owned businesses. The owners of these restaurants bring the most authentic dishes from their home country along with the work ethic to run a thriving business in a weekend economy.

The flavor of this neighborhood isn’t only dining in or carry out either; on the streets you will find a plethora of street vendors selling everything from hamburger sliders to kabobs to Mexican street corn. These vendors know their audience, only supplying the freshest fares for dirt-cheap prices. Vendors are essential for this neighborhood; they supply jobs and affordable food for the tight-pocketed locals. Fruit vendors line the streets all year round and supply veggies and fruit at a price incomparable to market prices.

The food scene in Albany Park is no place for a yuppie to be found. If you don’t have straight cash and you need an ambience to sit down and eat you better get back to Lincoln Park. Albany Park is all about that hole-in-the-wall look that may or may not have passed a health inspection. But never be fooled by looks, these restaurants fix their problems when confronted by the Department of Public Health.

Here is a short guide to only a portion of the food heavens that must be experienced in Albany Park:

  • Taco Chino – This place is a fusion of both Mexican and Korean inspiration. Kim chi tacos are only a sample of the mixed flavors you can explore here.
  • Lawrence Fish Market – Amazing sushi for one dollar! From maki to tempura they have it…just don’t mind the old ripped-out car seats in place of chairs.
  • Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen – Guaranteed best hummus you may ever have.
  • Merla’s Kitchen – Try a sample platter of all the basic Filipino home cooking.
  • Hot Dog Station – If you just need some good greasy American? This place will cook it up and serve it on a bun.

The best way to eat in this unique neighborhood is to try everything and go everywhere. Everyone is able to find a little gem in this shabby area.

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About North Park Journalism Course

This blog is a place for NPU journalism students to post stories based on their specific beats in Albany Park: Crime, Arts and Entertainment, Business and Politics, etc. Posts should be free of spelling and grammar errors and accurate in all facts and content.
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One Response to A Taste of Diversity

  1. You were incredibly correct when you said that Albany Park is no place for a yuppie to be found. The best restaurants in this area are the grungy looking, hole in the wall places that your creepy friend takes you knowing that you’ll absolutely love it. The less judgmental you are on the looks of places, the more satisfied you’ll be. Regardless to how dirty and unhealthy the places may look, the only place to have recently failed a health inspection is a Starbucks, how surprising is that? A Pizza Hut in the area passed with conditions along with less popular places like Mayfair Market and Hot Dog li that also passed with conditions.
    However, there are some nicer restaurants that can be found in Albany Park. In Lincoln Square there is a delicious Mexican restaurant called Garcia’s with a full bar (unbelievably tasty margaritas) and delicious food. Start your meal off with the scrumptious queso fundito (flame cheese) and indulge in Carne Asada and it’s an almost guarantee that you will leave with your taste bud’s dancing.
    From experience, the affordable street vendors often provide the best food for the best price. The fruits and vegetables are double the freshness from the more popular stores and much cheaper. The Mexican street corn (elote) is an outstanding mix of corn, butter, chili powder, mayo, lime, Parmesan cheese, and salt. Sound gross? Probably. But give it a try and you’ll be happy you did.
    Right across the street from good ol’ North Park University is the exquisite Tre Kronor. The meals are fresh and make the customer feel like they’re back in Sweden eating their grandmas home cooked meals. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner this restaurant is a must see. Also check out Marie’s Pizza and Liquor, it not only delivers pizza, but delivers alcohol from the built in liquor store as well. The pizza is almost addicting and the price keeps you coming back for more.
    All in all Albany Park has the right restaurant for everyone, as long as you keep an open mind.

    Lisa Moriarty
    lemoriarty@vikings.northpark.edu

    Sources

    Tre Kronor
    http://www.trekronorrestaurant.com/#/home

    EveryBlock
    http://chicago.everyblock.com/?only=food-inspections

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