Eateries in Rogers Park

This week, I’d like to share a Rogers Park post by my classmate, Dominique Stem.

This weekend, I got the pleasure of seeing the movie, The Vow, which was set in Chicago. It was a great movie with a wonderful, heartfelt, touching story. One thing that I found particularly interesting about the movie was that a lot of the movie was set in Rogers Park. There were different scenes where the couple would go eat at a cool diner or get coffee at their favorite café in the Rogers Park neighborhood.

The movie has a lot of interesting spots that the couple would go to grab a bite to eat at and just different places just to hang out. like the farmers market, and the couple’s favorite café, Café Mnemoni. I lived in Rogers Park for two years and enjoyed every minute of it. I was unlike living downtown or in the suburbs; you fells like you were living in a little diverse city. In lieu of the awesome spots and restaurants in the movie, I would also like to share some of my favorite eateries in Rogers Park.

  • Uncommon Ground, located right on Devon. This restaurant is unique because it grows its produce on site and everything is made fresh. The food there is always tasty and satisfying and it’s a lot better than eating at the Maxwell Street on the corner.

    Uncommon Ground

  • Bananas Fosters, located on Sheridan Road. From what Yelp! is saying, this yummy breakfast place is now closed, which is strange because I just visited there not too long ago. At any rate though, Bananas Fosters was a great breakfast eatery and their food was always fresh and prepared to order.
  • Jamaican Jerk, right off of the Howard Red Line Stop. Jamaican Jerk has some of greatest, best tasting Jerk chicken in Chicago. It’s made with the prefect amount of spices and herbs and always leaves you satisfied.
  • Thai Grill, located on Granville. This relatively inexpensive grill specializes in Thai food and is very popular for Loyola’s students and their collegiate budget.

Next time you happen to get off at the end of Lake Shore Drive, take a trip to some of these places and please your taste buds and brain with some food from a different culture and see the different sights Rogers Park has to offer.

Dominique has her own blog, where she reports on the Chicago Bulls. I posted about rookie Jimmy Butler on Dominique’s blog this week. Check out all Domique’s posts here: http://sportingchicago.tumblr.com.

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The Haymarket Opera Company presents La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers

Photo by Flickr/ one2c900d: http://www.flickr.com/photos/72861652@N00/

This week I decided to research Rogers Park’s theater scene. As a neighborhood of Chicago, Rogers Park contributes to the city’s eclectic artistry in many ways, specifically in the form of opera.

The Haymarket Opera Company is a local group that Chicago cellist and viola de gamba player Craig Trompeter started in 2011. Trompeter felt that period operas were not properly represented among Chicago’s historical performances, so he quickly gathered with a few colleagues and held a fundraiser. His idea for a local 17th and 18th century- inspired opera came to life as a not-for-profit group named  Haymarket Opera Company. Its name comes from Chicago’s 1886 Haymarket riot and the 1705 King’s Theatre opening in London’s Haymarket District. It represents their dedication to both Chicago and the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. The company’s mission is to use a variety of period instruments, costumes, and vocal styles to perform operas from  the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment era.  On their website, the HOC describes their instrumentalists as, “not only specialists on their individual instruments, they are historians who recreate the sounds 17th and 18th century composers would have heard as they wrote.”

Their rendition of the opera clearly represents the time, as their vocalists are trained in historically informed practices of sound production, ornamentation, and diction and their orchestra consists of specialists in the field.

The HOC’s commitment to staying true to the ages they depict comes across not only through their sound, but also through their image. They evoke an artistry that takes their audience to the Age of Reason or the Enlightenment.

This weekend, HOC will be performing a story from Metamorphoses, an A.D. 8 Latin narrative poem by the Roman poet Ovid. This weekend’s show La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers tells the story of the mythical musician Orpheus and his new bride Eurydice. As Eurydice suddenly falls to her death after a serpent’s bite, Orpheus follows her to Hades where he begs Pluto, ruler of the underworld, to let his wife come back to Earth with him. At last Orpheus’s singing convinces Pluto to set Eurydice free, but only under the condition that Orpheus will never turn to see his wife’s face. The music for La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers was composed by Marc- Antoine Charpentier in 17th century France.

The La Descente D’Orphee Aux Enfers will be running Feb 24 and 25 at 7:30pm at the Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave. To reserve tickets, purchase them online or call the Mayne Stage box office 773-381-4554.

Meet Uncommon Ground

Recently rated the “greenest eatery in the U.S.,” Uncommon Ground is a unique attribute to the Rogers Park neighborhood. Conveniently located on Devon Avenue, just two blocks west of Loyola University’s Lakeshore Campus, Uncommon Ground offers something for everyone. Owners Michael and Helen Cameron first opened a location in Chicago’s Wrigleyville, and their success motivated them to open another location in Edgewater. The restaurant has earned top ratings in many areas including:

  • Energy
  • Food
  • Water
  • Waste
  • Disposables
  • Building and pollution production

Chicago Magazine also recognized it as the “Best New Restaurant” in 2008, and Uncommon Ground has recently won awards like Mayor’s Landscape award.

The local hot spot is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with nightly bar service. Uncommon Ground serves American cuisine, but it highlights fresh, seasonal, regional and organic ingredients in its dishes. The restaurant actively supports sustainability and healthy eating. They started the first organic roof top farm in the United States, where they grow their fresh seasonal vegetables.

Now, let’s take a look at their creative menu.

For breakfast, Uncommon Ground offers variety for every type of early morning customer. For the health conscious, they serve eggs, oatmeal and everything in between. Uncommon huevos are a unique feature on their menu. They’re over easy eggs on a black bean corncake with ancho-chili sauce and Chihuahua cheese. And for those who need a sugar boost in the morning, Uncommon Ground makes pancakes and French toast. They serve a dish called tres leche French toast, which is a cranapple- apricot compote doused in maple syrup and powdered sugar. Uncommon Ground has many morning beverage specials as well, like the cinnamon bun. This is an espresso drink mixed with cinnamon and a monin, steamed milk and six press pot coffees Peru balcones (a light roast) with hints of maple and apricot.

Lunch customers won’t be disappointed with their choices either. Uncommon Ground makes good use of their freshly grown vegetables in their sunshine salad: organic greens, seasonal vegetables, sunflower seeds and sprouts beneath apple cider vinaigrette. They also serve dill and zatziki, spinach and red onion falafel and their market vegetable sandwich, which arranges tomato, grilled squash and zucchini, roasted red pepper, turnips, arugula, green goddess dressing and onion marmalade on whole wheat bread.

For meat lovers, Uncommon Ground has dishes like a classic BLT or their dietzler farm burger, which is a burger with cheddar cheese, fried egg, tomato, red onion and cherry wood bacon.

Uncommon Ground sets another scene for dinner guests. They serve a variety of salads and appetizers along with a broad selection of entrees. Some interesting selections include grilled trout served with sweet potato hash, squash risotto, bacon wrapped meatloaf and the quinoa burger served with shiitake mushroom and squash ketchup toppings. Every Friday Uncommon Ground offers a special $16 fish and chips dinner.

If you can save enough room to order dessert, Uncommon Ground will be sure to give you a delectable treat of peach brown butter cake, s’mores tart and many more.

The eatery has more to offer than just delicious dining. They also have a live music show every night. Uncommon Ground is a popular venue for local Chicago bands, so shows do sell out. They post a calendar with band listings and cover charges on their website. Uncommon Ground also features a local artist every few months. From December to March they’re showing work by Mark Vandervinne.

Another attribute that makes Uncommon Ground one of a kind is its sustainability efforts. In addition to increasing sustainability by growing their produce on their roof, they also rely on solar panels for energy and use old fryer oil as fuel.

A Fresh Treat for Your Taste Buds at Glenwood Sunday Market

The Glenwood Sunday Market is a Rogers Park farmers market that all Rogers Park dwellers should take time to enjoy. This program of the Rogers Park Business Alliance is an independent farmers market,  funded only by donations, sponsors, and vendor fees. The market’s mission is to bring farmers to Rogers Park. Our residents should get a taste of local and sustainably produced food. Its outdoor location on Morse and Lundt creates a welcoming and cheerful atmosphere for all to enjoy.  During the winter and early spring months, the market opens their indoor location about once per month. The winter selection adds variety to our predictable winter diet, so go surprise your taste buds by trying foods like root vegetables, tofu, and microgreens. Or, for some comfort, relish in foods like honey, baked goods, grass- fed and pasteurized meats, eggs, dairy and cheese- all locally produced in the Midwest.

The Glenwood Sunday Market sponsors the Learn and Grow Program. Learn and Grow provides the market with knowledgeable volunteers who give shoppers a taste at the market with their try what you buy tactic. The market also offers workshops to enhance shoppers’ skills and enrich their appreciation for a local and sustainable routine.

Reasons to support Rogers Park’s local Glenwood Farmers Market by eating and buying locally are endless. Buying locally brings income to Rogers Park and the Midwestern economy. During tough economic times, it is important for Rogers Park residents to support our community’s income. Plus, the locally grown food preserves a sort of freshness that major supermarket’s produce lacks. Buyers can appreciate that the food has a longer time to ripen, so you can buy larger quantities without risking early spoilage.

We should also consider how our food gets to us. Eating locally is better for air quality and minimizes our carbon footprint since the food doesn’t have to travel far distances. Another benefit is your food’s safety. Since farmers, rather than factories, handle the produce, your food is individually monitored and has a lower risk of contamination. The farmers bring their treats all year around, so Rogers Park residents can add some variety to their diets by trying some seasonal produce. Food in season will be at its best quality. A hungry stomach’s most important reasons to eat locally, though, are that it’s simply healthier and the freshness really makes the food taste better.

Through supporting our Midwestern farmers, we can build a stronger community in Rogers Park. Learn the story behind your food. Befriend the farmers who got it to you. The Glenwood Sunday Market refreshes our neighborhood with its delectable selections and its suggestion for community with our  Rogers Park neighbors.

You can start shopping locally at the Glenwood Sunday Market’s indoor location: the Glenwood Bar at 6962 N. Glenwood Ave. They will be open 9am-2pm Feb 12, March 11, April 1, May 6 and May 20. The outdoor location on Glenwood Avenue between Morse and Lundt will reopen every Sunday beginning  June 3.

Rogers Park’s Cultural Menu

Chicagoans know the Rogers Park neighborhood for its palpable diversity. Its diversity extends beyond its dwellers and shops and into the realm of food. Rogers Park dining captures the ethnicity a city like Chicago offers. If you’re looking for a Rogers Park meal to amuse your palate, this list of ethnic restaurants is sure to do the trick.

Royal Coffee

Photo by Flickr/ nate steiner: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nate/ Royal Coffee is known for their dark Ethiopian Coffee.

6764 N. Sheridan

Royal Coffee is an authentic Ethiopian café famous for its coffee. It has been imported straight from Ethiopia and is sold by the bag. The coffee beans have been sundried by Ethiopian farmers, and baristas preserve the pure taste of the Ethiopian delicacy. The unblended coffee upholds the Ethiopian sincerity of the café. They serve  simple to lavish breakfasts, ranging from smoothies to an Ethiopian style dish of scrambled eggs with tomato, green pepper, onion, chile powder, and injera, which is a spongy yeast flat bread. For lunch and dinner, Royal Coffee offers salads and sandwiches along with more exotic entrées. They prepare dishes like fava beans and injera in beef stew. Vegetarians have plenty of options, such as their veggie plate of red lentils, split peas, gomen, potatoes, green beans and carrots. And at last, to soothe their customers’ sweet tooth, Royal Coffee serves ice cream and dessert crepes.

Jamaica Jerk

1631 N. Howard

Jamaica Jerk is a locally owned restaurant whose chefs pride themselves on their Jamaican and Caribbean food made from scratch. They modeled their interior with a wraparound gazebo facing a wall painted with water meeting sky. The design gives customers the illusion that they have gone somewhere warm, like Montego Bay, to set the mood for their Jamaican cuisine. Jamaican Jerk’s menu features food unfamiliar to the average Rogers Parker. They have pheasant with burning oak twigs, brown stew chicken, goat dishes, along with “festival,” which is fried sweet cornmeal dough, and grapenut ice cream.

Deta’s Café

7555 N. Ridge Road

Deta’s offers Mediterranean choices while somehow still making customers feel at home. The café is known for its familiar customer service. Deta, the owner, commonly asks her customers what they feel like eating. Most days she has three options: salad, bread, and a burek. A burek is  a thin pastry filled with onions and potatoes, spinach and cheese, or  beef and potatoes rolled into tubes. Sometimes she will make a special, like her peppers stuffed with beef, vegetables, and brown rice. Other times she’ll have dessert, like her grandmother’s recipe of honey and cream cakes.

Taste of Peru

6545 N. Clark St

Taste of Peru’s family restaurant provides Rogers Park with a Peruvian smorgasbord. The unique restaurant serves real Peruvian meals, landing it a segment on Diners, Drive ins, and Dives. Taste of Peru has a menu full of Peruvian food with images for descriptions. They serve a variety of seafood, paella anticucho, arroz con pollo, arroz con leche, chicken stew, and empanada along with many more ethnic dishes. And, as an addition to the friendly atmosphere, Taste of Peru hosts live music on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and the last Sunday of the month.

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