Perhaps the most popular Greek desert is Baklava. Baklava is sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with nuts and sweetened with syrup and honey. The Greek desert traces its origins back to the Ottoman Empire.
The desert is popular in both Turkey and Greece. The main difference between the nuts used to make the desert.
Believe it or not Baklava is not that different to make yourself. If the weather is too cold and you can’t get around during the winter months in Chicago, consider making some yourself at home. Here is a simple receipt that we put together for you.
The ingredients are pretty basic:
- 1 16 ounce package phyllo dough
- 1 pound chopped nuts
- 1 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup honey
So let’s get started. Preheat your oven at 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of your pan. Use a 9×13 size pan and butter the sides as well. Chop your nuts and then mix it with some cinnamon. Next unroll the phyllo dough. Cut it so that two sheet fit into your pan. Then butter it thoroughtly and then place two more sheets on top of it and then butter it. Keep layering until you have at least six to eight sheets stacked.
Then grab a knife and cut out diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan and then place the pan into the oven for 50 minutes until golden and crisp.
To make the sugar sauce, you need to boil sugar and water until the sugar is melted. Then add vanilla and honey and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the baklava from the oven and pour the sauce over it. Then let it cool and you are good to have some home made Greek desert.
If you are looking for a nice romantic Greek restaurant that specializes in seafood than the Santorini restaurant is the perfect place. Just blocks from downtown Chicago, the Santorini is located at 138 South Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois 60661 – in the heart of Greektown.
As soon as you walk in, the restaurants low lighting and warm fireplace welcomes you into the eating area. The place has a laid back atmosphere so you never feel rushed. The décor of the place along with the warm fireplace made you feel like you were in your grandmother’s house in Greece enjoying her home made dinner.
The place claims that it seats 160 people in their split plan layout which sounds about right. There is a bar area if you forgot to make reservation and need to hang out while you wait for your table. There are table out front which allow you to enjoy the day during the warm summer months.
The menu is very friendly for those familiar with Greek food and for those who are new to it. There is a family style menu with seven different menus based on different price points. There are also packaged drinking menus as well.
The Lamb Artichokes is especially good. The Spanakotiropita, which is the spinach and feta cheese pie should not be missed as well as the Keftedes (meatballs topped with a tomato sauce and cheese).
But the real reason you came here is for the seafood and they don’t disappoint. Their seafood platter which is a combination of the finest shellfish and fish filets. The seafood menu is very expansive with oceanic fish, fresh water fish, fish from shell, and seafood combinations.
Be sure to try to Greek Baccalao, which is a pan fried fish with their own garlic sauce.
The Greek Island Restaurant located at 200 South Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois 60661 is one of the staple Greektown restaurants. It opened in 1971 and has been one of the steady places in Chicago where you can get fresh Greek seafood and ingredients shipped in daily. Known for having the highest quality extra virgin olive oil and Greek wines and cheese, the place makes you feel at home.
The first location was so successful, they now have a second location at 300 East 22nd Street, Lombard, Illinois.
The original location on Halsted has been a great spot for large groups, birthdays, and group gatherings. The restaurant does not take reservations but the place is huge so you can always hang out at the bar as you wait for your table.
One of their signature dishes is the Flaming Saganaki Cheese. The imported Greek cheese is fambeed at your table. It’s to do for so don’t forget to try it as an appetizer. It also makes a great combo to eat it with their grilled pita bread. The Pepperchinos and olives are flown in from Greece and are tasty as well.
They have a family style menu for groups of two or more that are worth trying. The Keftedes (meatballs) are really good.
Athena, is one of the premier Greek restaurants in Chicago. Located at 212 South Halsted Street (at West Adams Street), the place offers a lively and fantastic atmosphere. In the summer time, their outdoor patio takes advantage of the weather and provides phenomenal views of the city of Chicago.
Be forewarn that the outside patio has a huge waiting list especially on summer night where the restaurant is very popular and fun. Don’t be to surprise to see many groups of people enjoying the great white Greek wine that they serve and wonderful Greek music. There are flowers throughout and patio and the water fountains had a nice touch to the entire place.
There are also giant patio shades in the outside patio for those hot summer days. By now it should be clear that the main attraction of this place is their outside patio but the food is also delicious as well and another reason to eat at the Athena.
For starters, the Tzatziki (yogurt, garlic and cucumber spread) and Hummus are very good. Their Greek salad is also delicious especially on a warm summer day for lunch. This is a Greek restaurant so you have to have some lamb. I liked all their lamb dishes but my favorite is the Braised lamb which is cooked in the tomato sauce, served with rice and potatoes.
The Pipperies Florines (roasted red pepers stuffed with feta cheese and herbs), the Keftedakia (pan fried meatballs made of ground lamb, beef and herbs), and Octapodi (char broiled octopus seasoned in olive oil and vinegar are some of the dishes that one should not miss out on.
Lastly the Kalamair (fried squid served with cocktail sauce and lemon) is tremodous and probably one of the best Greek calamari to be found in Chicago.
Athena also has a vegetarian menu and offers starter menus for those eating Greek food for the first time. The seafood menu should be given neglected in the summer time when the fish and seafood is fresh and a light healthy menu taste best.
The traditional Baklava (layers of honey and walnuts in light crisp filo dough) is a good way to end the evening.
Located between Van Buren and Madison Street is the vibrant Greektown neighborhood of Chicago. It’s on the south branch of the Chicago River. You can’t miss the place as there are rows of Greek restaurants clustered on Halsted Street between Van Buren and Washington Streets.
Most of the Greek restaurants offer similar menus at different prices ranges offering Gyro, Feta Fries, Paork Souvlaki, Paidakai Plates, Lamb Souviaki, Moussaka, Greek Salads, Bakiava, Dipies, and various other Greek favorites.
The moderately priced restaurants offer Greek music for you to dance to as you dine and to ensure the Greek wines and deserts.
With over 30,000 Greeks living in Chicago, Greektown Chicago is a very viable place to visit if you are longer to eat at some Greek Restaurants.
Chicago’s Greektown is more than just a row of restaurants. There are specialty shops and stores that sell Greek books, religious items, and souvenirs. There are authentic Greek markets selling Greek wine, cheeses, spices and other essentials for the many Greek transplants that now make Chicago their home.
There also Greek candle shops, a Greek Museum (the Hellenic Museum), and a Greek cultural center.
The Greeks eat more lamb than any other meat. They also serve a wide variety of fish and other seafood from the Mediterranean Sea. They almost always cook their food in olive oil, and often use olive oil to flavor their prepared Greek dishes.
Popular Greek dishes inlcude soupa avogemono (which is a lemon flavored chicken soap), dolmathes (vine leaves filled with rice and ground meat), moussaka (layers of eggplant and ground meat), and sowlakia (meat cooked on a long pin, usually with onions and tomatoes).
Also popular are feta (a cheese made from sheep’s or goat’s mil), olives, ouzo (a licorice flavored liquor), and retsina (a white wine flavored with pine resin). Many Greeks who emigrated during the 1900′s established restaurants in Chicago.
Welcome to Chicago Greek Restaurants! Chicago has a vibrant Greek community and it is reflected in the quality of food to be enjoyed at the various Greek restaurants littered through out the city of Chicago.