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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Giordano's The progenitor of this just-left-of-a-fern-bar chain was the birthplace of stuffed pizza. The stuffed spinach and mushroom number is still a decent choice, but don't stray too far from pizza when ordering. Lunch, dinner daily, open till midnight Fri-Sat, Sun-Thu till 11, 5311 S. Blackstone, 773-947-0200, giordanos.com. $ —LLS

Italian Fiesta Pizzeria This family-run place got its start in the 40s and has since expanded to a couple suburbs. The thin-crust is a local favorite—Michelle Obama has said that her parents used Italian Fiesta pizza to reward her for good grades. Also on the menu: Italian beef, Italian sausage, and meatball sandwiches; a few pastas; and chicken. Cash only; takeout and delivery only.  Lunch, dinner daily, open till 2 Fri-Sat, other nights till 1, 1400 E. 47th, 773-684-2222, italianfiestapizzeria.com. $

Pizza Capri Hyde Park location of the local chain specializing in "gourmet" pizzas like the Pesto Lover's, with shrimp, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, sweet onions, parsley, and fresh tomatoes. There are also lots of salad options, pasta dishes and Italian entrees, and sandwiches and wraps, plus weekend brunch. Lunch, dinner: seven days, brunch Sat-Sun, open till 11 Fri-Sat, 1501 E. 53rd, 773-324-7777, pizzacapri.com. $$

Teahouses

Argo Tea Kiosk of the chain offering gourmet teas, chais, and specialty drinks, in the lobby of the U. of C.'s Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine. 5:30 AM-6:30 PM Mon-Fri, 5758 S. Maryland, 773-409-4646, argotea.com.

Thai

Chant Hyde Park's food scene is notable for two things—overwhelming mediocrity and a glut of Thai food. So Chant, a slightly above-average Thai joint, may seem fine to visitors but disappoint locals. Avocado rolls, a vegetarian substitute for sushi, are bland and small even for an appetizer, but overall vegetables seem to be a strength here, with entree options including spinach tofu, Asian ratatouille strudel, sesame polenta with mushroom-asparagus ragout, and the Drunken Angel, stir-fried vegetables served with angel-hair pasta and Thai basil-jalapeño oil. Chant is best appreciated for what distinguishes it from Hyde Park's other Thai restaurants: its bright, contemporary atmosphere, its late hours, and its bar. There's live music on Fridays and Saturdays and a Sunday blues brunch. Delivery available. Lunch, dinner daily, brunch Fri-Sun, open till 1 Fri-Sat, midnight Tue-Thu, 1509 E. 53rd, 773-955-2200, chantchicago.com. $$ —Whet Moser

Jarunee (Thai 55th) Restaurant Ceiling fans and wood-paneled walls covered with family photos give this otherwise typical Thai restaurant—billed as the oldest in Hyde Park—a relaxing atmosphere. The long menu of typical Thai fare includes nine noodle dishes, ten curries, and 13 seafood preparations, including four with catfish. BYO; delivery available.  Lunch, dinner daily, 1607 E. 55th, 773-363-7119, thai55restaurant.com. $ —HG

Siam Thai Cuisine With multiple Thai places on this block, the competition is fierce, but patrons fill the tables nevertheless. The cheerful, clean room is trimmed in green and hung with attractive Thai artifacts. The extensive menu offers a bit of everything: pot stickers, yum nua (chilled Thai beef salad), noodle dishes, rice dishes, and curries including mussaman, yellow, pineapple, or Bangkok style (with lightly battered and fried vegetables). Fish specials, all made with a whole catfish, are mostly deep-fried, then topped with either stir-fried broccoli and red curry, a sweet-and-sour sauce, or garlic. BYO. Lunch, dinner daily, 1639-43 E. 55th, 773-324-9296. $ —LLS

Snail Thai Cuisine Friendly, assiduous service and a menu that offers more than most. Alongside all the standard appetizers, soups, salads, and curries are less common items, including duck spring rolls, pork dumplings, fried squid, chive dumplings, northern Thai sausage, and "golden bag," a pastry stuffed with corn, peas, potatoes and deep-fried. That's just under appetizers; under noodles you'll find spinach, wheat, and bean-thread noodle dishes in addition to rice and egg noodles, and there's an entire "Vegetable Lovers" section. BYO; delivery available. Lunch, dinner Sun, Tue-Sat; 1649 E. 55th, snailthai.com, 773-667-5423. $ —KS

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