Chickpea

Chicago, Illinois

Reviews

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Chickpea is a highly vegan- and vegetarian-friendly Palestinian cafe that offers some old standards (hummus, falafel) as well as some unusual dishes. I love that all their dishes are labeled vegan or vegetarian which makes ordering really easy.

I came here with a few people and got a chance to sample a variety of dishes. First we had a "Mama's Lentil Soup" ($3) which was excellent: hearty, simple and well-seasoned with herbs and acidic lemon. The portion size was also good considering the price.

We also had a "Koosa" (zucchini, tomato and onion stew) ($7) which was tasty but not terribly cutting-edge or unexpected. This dish could have been from anywhere in the Middle East or Mediterranean.

Next we had the Tuesday dinner special, "Malfoof" (cabbage leaf rolled with herbed rice and topped with garlic) ($9) which I enjoyed quite a bit. The cabbage provided a soft wrapping for the fluffy rice and the flavors all came together well.

Finally I got a falafel sandwich ($4). Unfortunately, Chickpea does not currently offer a vegan variety of pita (their current offering has milk powder), so I only ended up with the components of a falafel sandwich. I'm glad that Chickpea was thorough enough to check the ingredients of its bread and accordingly label the dish "vegetarian"; many other places probably wouldn't be so comprehensive.

The hummus, falafel pieces and Jerusalem salad topping (tahini, cucumbers and tomato) came together well. I think the individual falafel pieces were a bit too grainy, heavy and densely-packed, and the flavor was too smoky, but I'm sure it would all come together in a decent pita. The owner told us he'll be getting a vegan pita fairly soon (wholewheat seems less likely).

On a whole this is a nice little hip cafe with fairly cheap food, though the dinner specials can be pricier. This is an issue only because Chickpea is cash-only, so make sure to bring at least $20-$30 if you plan to try a few dishes.

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