by Eric Scrogum
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.