Location – 1333 E. 57th Street (57th and Kimbark) and 1460 E. 53rd Street (53rd and Blackstone)
In one word – Clean
Food – Come to Noodles for pan-Asian cuisine. It’s my comfort food locale when I’m in Hyde Park. I had the spicy curry noodles. True to its name, it was spicy. My eating partner had the egg drop soup and the Vietnamese spring rolls. I always like Noodles, but I’m not going to tell you it’s the end-all-be-all. If you are in the neighborhood and don’t feel like a burger at the Med, try it.
Drink – 57th Street in Hyde Park is a dry street, so you have to BYOB.
Service – There’s not all that much to comment on at Noodles. We got our meal quickly and the eating utensils were clean. That’s good enough for me.
Occasion – You will see a lot of families and college students dining at Noodles. The feel is very casual, similar to Penny’s Noodle Shop.
Dress – You’re sitting next to students from the University of Chicago. I can guarantee you’ll be better dressed than them, no matter what you’re wearing.
Cost – We paid $9 each including tip. That felt reasonable to me.
If you like, try…Penny’s Noodle Shop
Location – 226 W. Chicago (Chicago and Franklin; other locations in Bucktown, Hyde Park, South Loop, Wrigleyville and Taylor Street)
In one word – Adequate
Food – Bar Louie positions itself as a distinct neighborhood bar, except for the fact that it’s in pretty much every neighborhood. They have a substantial menu of burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and salads. We went the salad route. I had the pear salad with balsamic viniagrette and almonds. The dressing was a bit strong, but other than that I was satisfied. My friend had the chopped chicken salad. Her big beef was that there was only one small chunk of avocado in the salad. I take restaurants naming avocado in an entree on the menu seriously. If it’s listed, there ought to be at least a moderate amount of the ingredient to chomp on, right?
Drink – We both ordered one of Bar Louie’s draft beers. They have a decent number of options.
Service – Luckily we weren’t in a hurry. It took them about 25 minutes to get us our salads. Normally I wouldn’t have noticed, but we were the only ones in the restaurant. I’m not sure what the hold up was. Also my friend ordered her salad without bleu cheese or bacon. As it so happened, it first came out with those ingredients. The waitress did notice the mistake right away, so it was corrected relatively quickly.
Occasion – It’s a pretty casual environment. You could come here to catch up with a friend or on a really low key date.
Dress – Honestly you can wear anything. Dress for the occasion.
Cost – I paid $19 for a beer and a salad. To me, that was a bit excessive.
If you like, try…Green Door Tavern
Location: 1327 E. 57th Street
In one word – Mexicana
Food – You should know that as a University of Chicago graduate I am obligated to speak highly of “the Med” (a requirement to graduate). It really is the Hyde Park hang-out. Get a Med burger or the Garbage Pizza while here. I really like the chili (but that might be a result of my cheapness in college, it was one of the cheapest hearty options you could find).
Drink – You really go to the Med for the milkshakes. My recommendation is the Mexicana milkshake, which is basically a chocolate milkshake with some fun spices like cinnamon. Others come here for the Grenadine float or the fudge-banana-nut shake. In the winter, indulge in their hot chocolate (again, my recommendation is the Mexicana). 57th Street in Hyde Park is a dry street, but you are allowed to BYOB.
Service: The staff here are usually students at the University of Chicago. That means they’re going to be a little bit quirky and always willing to engage in a conversation. I have had many an insightful discussion with my waiter/waitress at the Med. Talk to them, you might learn something.
Occasion – The place is so low key. When you walk in, you’ll see that the wood walls and tables have etchings from past customers. That’s what gives this place it’s character, all the initials and drawing from diners before. If you have the option, sit on the second floor. This will allow you to peer down at the first floor. Maybe some of the best people watching I’ve done thus far. The crowd is a mix of college students, professors and their families and other Hyde Parkers.
Dress: If you have ever visited the U of C, you’ll know that fashion sense is not at the top of these people’s priorities. As a result, I promise you that no matter what you wear, whether it be a sweatsuit, jeans or a skirt, you’ll be better dressed than the other patrons.
Cost: I’d expect to pay between $15 – 20 here if you do a shake and an entrée.
If you like…, try – The Florian (also in Hyde Park, join in the on-going debate about which is better, the Med or the Florian), Meli Cafe