Lebanon, Syria

News and Notes

Here’s some worthwhile reading to keep you busy.
  • My buddy Sean questions Spencer Ackerman’s credentials. But not in a snarky way.
  • Middle East Policy Group Survey quotes a State Dept. analyst wondering whether Lebanon should be sacrificed (to Syria) in the service of American interests (via FLC).
  • Brian Whitaker reflects on the latest ICG report about Syria.
  • Greg Gause has a great piece about non-state actors, over at The Review.
  • Marc Lynch produces a hysterical highlight reel of Middle Eastern political players for 2009.
  • Washington mulls direct flights to Beirut (I’ve heard this about 1559 times before, but hope springs eternal).

I’ll be out of town for the next ten days or so. Posting may be light. It may be heavy. You never know. I’m tricky that way. You’ll have to check back and see for yourself.

Anybody have good restaurant recommendations for Chicago?

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7 thoughts on “News and Notes

  1. Thanks for the link, mang. If you’re into okra, check out Soul Vegetarian on the south side…

    Posted by sean | December 18, 2009, 8:38 pm
  2. oh so many: try the Publican ,… Coco Pazzo …and DEFINITELY, Spiaggia!

    Posted by F | December 18, 2009, 8:50 pm
  3. Well Qifa, you can fly from LAX to Tel Aviv; JFK to Tel Aviv; anywhere in the world afar to Yaffa, I mean Tel Aviv.

    Indeed, the Blue Line is not open for smartasses like us. But I do think it is so “Middle East” that you can fly so far–like across the world–and then be so close, yet still so far from a place. You’d need a second passport and have to “go around.”

    And this is what I’m writing my book about: Surfing with Nusrallah: How I surfed from Israel to Lebanon

    1. http://bloggingthecasbah.blogspot.com/2009/03/from-tel-aviv-to-beirut-surfing-odyssey.html

    2. http://bloggingthecasbah.blogspot.com/2009/07/surfin-with-nasrallah.html

    Enjoy and I shall update ya when it comes out! A version comes out in The Surfers Journal in the April/May issue.

    Posted by Abu Guerrilla | December 18, 2009, 11:46 pm
  4. Definitely try Avec. It is fantastic, has a great wine selection (from vineyards you will not recognize, generally from Spain and France), and is not overly expensive. I’ve eaten there more than anywhere else in Chicago (close to 100 times). I’ve taken domestic and foreign guests there, and all absolutely love it. The shared, small plates allow you to try the myriad, interesting offerings available.

    The Publican (recommended by F) is a good Belgian style organic cuisine gastropub. The food is good. The beer is great. However, the food isn’t the best you’ll find in one of the best culinary cities on the planet. It’s a bit over salted. It is also owned by the same people who own Avec.

    This NYT story really piqued my interest:

    I would love to try these places, particularly given that the author claims that one restaurant has the best pizza on the planet. A relative of mine went another one of the restaurants listed, a fast food Mexican place called Xoco, and says it is delicious.

    High end? F is right. Spiaggia is phenomenal (and Obama’s favorite restaurant). However, you might want to fork over your cash for a meal at a restaurant that has been making waves internationally: Alinea.

    For a romantic meal, check out North Pond. Phenomenal, organic food. Not extremely expensive, but not inexpensive. Also, it has the best Sunday brunch offerings in the city. It might close during a few winter months, though.

    If you’re in Hyde Park, check out the Seminary Co-op bookstore and the Oriental Institute. Hyde Park dining options aren’t the best, but there is decent Thai food on 55th street and 53rd street. Don’t eat at Cedars of Lebanon. It’s Americanized “Mediterranean” cuisine. I would recommend the Dixie Kitchen on 53rd, which is an excellent restaurant if it still exists. I heard rumors that the building it was in was being torn down.

    Posted by Charles Malik | December 19, 2009, 3:42 am
  5. Thanks guys! Charles, do you want to be the QN restaurant critic? There’s an opening.

    Another reader sent this by email:

    “If you head to Hyde Park, as any self-respecting scholar would, Dixie Kitchen/Calypso is it.
    I think there is also one up at Northwestern. For Turkish food Turquoise Dining just north of Belmont. For Iranian Noon O Kabab. Up in Andersonville there is a sublime, bit upscale Korean restaurant called Jin Ju and many a Swedish bakery. Devon is one of the most interesting parts of the city and packed with Indian and Pakistani restaurants. You can take the bus there from the Loyola University stop.”

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 19, 2009, 7:07 am
  6. Calypso is okay; basically, standard American cuisine with Caribbean spicing. Dixie Kitchen is quite good, if it still exists.

    Noon O Kabab is the best in Chicago, but rather average overall.
    It doesn’t compare to the Persian/Iranian restaurants in DC, which has more members of the diaspora. However, it is one of Mayor Daley’s favorite restaurants, and there are some decent Lebanese and Palestinian restaurants in the neighborhood, as well as good argile joints.

    Andersonville is a very cool, hip neighborhood with great Swedish and Palestinian bakeries, and decent Turkish bakeries. The Palestinian owned Middle Eastern Bakery is quite good. Also in the neighborhood is Hopleaf, a good gastropub.

    I second the other reader’s recommendation to visit Devon Street: lots of South Asian shops, and great restaurants. I haven’t visited there for about six years, but back in the day some of the good restaurants there were: Tiffin, Mysore Woodlands, Udipi Palace, the India Gardens.

    If you’re really considering adding a restaurants section to this website, I would love to contribute. As you can tell, I enjoy good food and have strong opinions on the subject.

    Posted by Charles Malik | December 19, 2009, 5:38 pm
  7. Hi,

    Why did your latest post – about the meeting between Assad and Hariri – disappear ??


    Posted by Yann | December 20, 2009, 11:56 am

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