Local Flavor: Maza Restaurant

You find something new every day. In my case, I found a restaurant that was three blocks away from my apartment that I had never noticed before: Maza.

My (half eaten) Kellaya dish

This Lebanese restaurant, located on Ashland, is the type of place that have been passing on almost a weekly basis for four years and never really noticing. However, when my brother chose to go there for his birthday after seeing it in Chicago magazine, I was intrigued. I had never had Lebanese food before, so I was eager to give it a shot.

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Chicago Italian: Two Great “Clubs” To Try Out

Growing up, I had a great Italian grandmother and (half) Italian mother that infused in me a love of the culture and given me an unwaveringly curious outlook about everything Italian. I want to learn the language, try all types of Italian food, and eventually, visit the country itself. There are some great restaurants and cultural institutions in Chicago to check out, and until I get a pasta maker and start experimenting with making my own, I have to get my fix elsewhere.

Its hard to pick favorites with Italian food, because almost every place I’ve been to here in Chicago has been great, but there are two that I’ve been to fairly recently that I want to point out, not only because they have similar names, but because they also had superior food and drink: Club Lago on Superior and Club Lucky in Bucktown.

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Bar Forza: New to Lincoln Park

Living in Lincoln Park, I find it especially interesting when there is a new restaurant right in my neighborhood, especially one that is affordable and unique. There’s where Forza comes into play.

Popping up on Lincoln where the Spread previously was, Forza is an italian-themed bistro, featuring fresh flowers on the tables, a Vespa-type scooter in the restaurant, and a classy yet affordable atmosphere for a classy, affordable night out. Now, I’ve been to Forza twice, and both times I’ve been impressed with the care and attention that they give their customers. The owner walks from table to table, making sure each customer is satisfied, and sometimes even giving away free drink coupons.

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Places in Lincoln Park to Satisfy a Thai Food Craving

Every once in a while, I get an unstoppable craving for Thai food. I have to have it, and until then, I just can’t stop thinking about Pad Thai, chicken satay, and crab rangoons. Fortunately, when this problem occurs, I am lucky to live around some quick and cheap restaurants where I can get my fix.

A few places to get affordable, tasty Thai food in Lincoln Park:

1. Duck Walk, 1217 W. Fullerton Ave.

Ever since Duck Walk opened up on Fullerton, I’ve been a regular customer. It’s affordable, has a nice atmosphere, and and strategically located. They offer great appetizers, my favorite being the crab rangoons. Bonus: Their sauces are delicious. For the main course they have a variety of noodle dishes, any of which are worth a try. A variety of great rice and curry dishes are also offered. The portion sizes are perfect to fill you up at the restaurant, then have some for lunch the next day.

2. Noodles in the Pot, 2453 N. Halsted St.

Noodles in the Pot is one of my favorites because of the atmosphere. It’s located on Halsted, but has a relaxed atmosphere which is ideal for catching up with friends and relaxing. The Pad Thai here is my top choice, with just the right amount of each ingredient, enough peanuts to make me happy (my favorite part of the dish), and just enough greasiness to quench my body’s craving for it. Add in the fact that it’s BYOB, and we have the recipe for a perfect Thai restaurant. I’d love to come back to try more of their dishes!

3. Thai Bowl, 2410 N. Lincoln

What first drew me in to Thai Bowl was their 10% off discount for students. I stayed for the great food, low cost, and speedy service. Thai Bowl on Lincoln is a great place to grab a quick bite to eat, and enjoy it too. At this point I must confess that I have a soft spot for rice dishes. I love the texture rice adds to a meal, and how it absorbs the sauce for bonus flavor. So, I’m inclined to order a dish with rice when it’s an option. At Thai Bowl, this took the form of their cashew chicken. Now, I am used to cashew chicken being a mild dish (on Chinese menus), but the addition of dry chili was great. It gave the dish just the kick it needed, while the garlic, bell peppers, and cashew balanced the flavor out. Cashew chicken is not the only note-worthy dish at Thai Bowl.  I also enjoyed their Pad See-Ew, and will be going back there for it very soon. Another noteworthy aspect of Thai Bowl is that they allow the customer to add their own ingredients for $1.00.

These places are my Thai food go-to’s in Lincoln Park for a quick fix. Coming soon: Chinese restaurants? Stay tuned.