pictured: tiropitakia at Katerina's
Katerina's, a Southern European-inspired restaurant/nightclub on a soon-to-be-trendy stretch of Irving Park, is like a haunting, long lost lover in a city full of never-to-be-seen-again one-night stands. We can't get enough of her spiciness, with an ever-changing rotation of universal music and a decidedly addictive menu.
Though the food reads fancy, it's more of a rustic take on unpronounceable but simple dishes. Clean salads are comprised of earthy field greens and are perfectly dressed, intensely fresh (all-year-round) and just what the palate craves when starting out a wine-accompanied meal. Coupled with a bowl of homestyle fasolada (a hearty Greek soup made of white beans and tomatoes), you've got a complete meal for under $10.
Though the entrees are all tempting, after a bottle of wine (or a few sour cherry martinis), a big meal can be a bit much. Fill up on appetizers instead, like the spinach-stuffed mushrooms and tigania (slow-simmered cubes of melt-in-your-mouth pork).
The live music kicks up around 9 p.m. Eclectic bands tuck away in the rear corner and the tiny space is filled with gypsy jazz, passionate Latin or smoky blues nightly. Katerina herself is a playful vixen and tries to showcase the best of local artists, adding that same flavor she sports to the variety of artists that perform.
The crowd tends to be less hipster than old-school cool, and the room is always on the dark side, with candlelit tables situated accordingly for the best view at all times. Stay as the evening progresses into night, especially since the kitchen is open well past midnight.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Misty Tosh