Hyde Park & Kenwood Issue: Restaurants | Restaurant Review | Chicago Reader

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Hyde Park & Kenwood Issue: Restaurants

The Medici, Valois, Park 52, Backstory Cafe, and more

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Third World Cafe Fair-trade coffee, house-baked muffins and breads, sandwiches, and gourmet ice cream.  Breakfast, lunch daily, 1301 E. 53rd, 773-288-3882. $

Cajun/Southern

The Big Easy Since 1981, under owner David Shopiro, this space has housed several restaurants: Orly's, Jalapeños, Orly's again. Then last year owner Shopiro closed down for a three-month renovation and reopened in January as the Big Easy, bringing in former Hell's Kitchen contestant Jennifer Gavin as chef. She's already history, and Ronisha Preckwinkle (daughter-in-law of Democratic county board candidate Toni) has been promoted. The menu still features New Orleans fare like jambalaya, etouffee, and po'boys, plus southern barbecue, and an on-site bakery turns out the bread for the po'boys, bagels, beignets, muffins, brownies, coffee cake, and other items available in the all-you-can-eat dessert buffet during weekend brunch. The full bar has 15 microbrews on tap.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner daily, brunch Sat-Sun, 1660 E. 55th, 773-643-5500. $ —KS

C'est Si Bon! Best known for its catering, this breakfast-and-lunch spot offers baked goods, Cajun dishes, and southern specialties like cheese grits. BYO. 8 AM-2 PM Mon-Fri, 643 E. 47th, 773-363-4123, cestsiboncatering.com. $

Caribbean

Calypso Cafe At this sibling of the late Hyde Park Dixie Kitchen, tropical decor sets a cheerful tone that's mirrored in the lively flavors of appetizers like spicy jerk chicken wings, plantain chips with cumin-spiked black beans, and conch fritters. Entrees like peppered perch and coconut shrimp come with sweet plantains, vegetables, and Dixie coleslaw.  Lunch, dinner daily, 5211 S. Harper, 773-955-0229, calypsocafechicago.com. $ —LLS

Uncle Joe's Jerk Hyde Park outlet of the Cottage Grove jerk shack that made the news last fall after a judge jokingly told a man who'd pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and criminal trespass that he'd waive his community service if he supplied the courtroom with jerk chicken—and the man did. In addition to chicken, there's jerk fish as well as soul and Caribbean sides, patties, and Ting soda. There are a few seats, but business is mostly takeout.  Lunch, dinner daily, open till 11 Fri-Sat, 1461 E. Hyde Park, 773-241-5550. $ —KS

Chinese

De Rice This Kenwood Chinese restaurant offers a much more varied menu than you'd expect, ranging from appetizers like scallion pancakes, barbecued pork, and Szechuan meat wontons to duck preparations (Cantonese roast, Peking), black-pepper beef, and a variety of salt-and-pepper seafoods (shrimp, smelt, soft-shell crab, squid, scallops). There are also some fruity, fusiony dishes like mango beef, strawberry chicken, and kiwi or lychee shrimp, plus fresh fruit smoothies. Takeout and delivery only.   Lunch, dinner: Mon-Sat, 920 E. 47th, 773-268-6868. $$ —KS

Fung's Chop Suey Takeout-only chop suey with the standard vast menu; combo plates like beef chop suey and shrimp fried rice for under $5. Cash only; delivery available.  Lunch, dinner daily, 1400 E. 47th, 773-924-2328. $

Nicky's Chinese Food Strip-mall Chinese, with takeout, delivery, free parking, and late-night hours. The extensive menu contains some novel-sounding items ("Shrimps With Boy Toy," "Beef With Finger and Green Onion"). Delivery available. Lunch, dinner daily, open till midnight, 5231 S. Woodlawn, 773-324-5340. $

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