Ramadan is in full swing. For many of us that means more family time and more home-cooked meals. But every once in awhile, you don't want to prepare that home-cooked meal. Maybe your non-fasting friend asks you to grab dinner, and you're sick of that one Middle Eastern place your family eats at every other day, so you try to think of another suggestion.
Read below for some of my favorite non-Middle Eastern places in Chicago where I love to break fast. Requirements: friendly and relaxed atmosphere, don't have to wait too long for food, serves soup, serves coffee all day and has hearty but not straight-to-the-gut food.
Estrella Negra: I love this place. Its location makes it sort of under the radar, which is what I prefer lately. I've been coming here for years because the food is on point and the atmosphere is quirky yet no-fuss. The reason why this place is perfect for iftar is because each entree comes with a complimentary starter, which means their chicken pozole (soup) is included with your meal! I love any place that makes iftar easy for me, and this place does just that. Their service is also quick and reliable, so you don't have to stare drooling at other people's plates for too long.
Beatrix: What's not to love about Beatrix? They have incredible coffee, their food is clean and fresh, and they have enough options for any heart's desire. The ample juice options are definitely a plus, especially during Ramadan, and their soups are always delicious. Even though they change their soups seasonally, they always list what they're serving online, so you don't have to worry about showing up to the restaurant and finding out there's an unexpected ham or bacon addition (don't you hate when that happens?), and I'm pretty sure the soup is always either vegan or vegetarian. The rest of the food is really great as well. My favorites include kennebec fries, brussel sprouts, any of the salads and short ribs.
Bite Cafe: I came across this place a few Ramadans ago when I was really craving a tomato soup and grilled cheese. And let me tell you, after fasting, Bite Cafe's tomato and fennel soup and grilled cheese on sourdough really hits the spot. It's pretty much the main reason why it made this list, not to mention the friendly and quick service, Dark Matter coffee served all day and lovely atmosphere.
You'll probably have room for other food post-fasting. You can round out the meal with their Super Salad or their Roasted Beet Salad, or if you really want to go for it, you can dive all-in with a flank steak or burger. Tomato soup, grilled cheese and steak? Sounds like a winning iftar to me.
90 Miles Cuban Cafe: When I think of what I want to eat to break my fast, I think of hot, hearty food that's been stewed for a long time over a kitchen stove. Maybe it's because I was blessed to grow up with an amazing home cook (and now catering business owner) who poured her whole heart into everything she fed us. 90 Miles' ropa vieja is just like that. It's packed with flavor and tastes like someone's mama or grandmama slaved over it all day. Eat it with a side of plantains and beans & rice and have yourself an awesome meal. Soup and coffee are also served.
Silom 12: I love Thai curry for iftar because it's hot, it's fresh and it warms your soul as it goes down. There were a couple other places I was thinking of including, but I landed on Silom 12 because of one simple reason: they have straight coffee, no added sugar, no condensed milk. Don't get me wrong, I love a good Thai coffee or Thai tea, but after a day of fasting, all I really want is a nice cup of hot, fresh black coffee. This also obviously made the list because Silom 12's food is delicious. I wouldn't mind going for a nice Panang Curry right about now.
Can someone please tell me why I decided to write this post while fasting? Excuse me while I go drool and lay horizontal on the couch until it's time to eat again.
Do you guys have any favorite places to break fast? Leave it in the comments below! I'm always looking for new suggestions.