Enter this Rogers Park restaurant and you'll be greeted by the strong aroma of saffron, curry and other spices while loud Middle Eastern music plays in the background.
So, take a trip to the Middle East and order a plate of appetizers ($2.99-$4.99). Try the hummus plate of blended chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed oil) with garlic spices and lemon juice. Or order a small plate of Baba Ghanouj — charbroiled eggplant, blended with garlic, lemon and tahini sauce is used as dip for warm pita bread.
Formerly Big Buns and Pita, Sahara has an extensive menu of sandwiches ($3.99-$5.99), burgers ($3.99-$5.99) and dinner plates ($6.99-$11.99). It even has a vegetarian menu of falafel plates and vegetarian combo platters. But come in any day of the week and be treated to one of the North Side's best daily specials. The lamb curry, which normally costs $8.99, is only $5.99 every Friday. The hefty portion of tender lamb meat drenched in curry sauce is served with rice garnished with raisins and carrots. It also comes with a bowl of lentil soup — warm and perfectly spiced, it's a party of flavor in your mouth during a cold and windy day. Or try the "Business Lunch Special" — a combination plate of shish kabob, kefta kabob, chicken kabob and falafel with a side of rice, salad and pita bread for only $4.99. Then feel free to finish off your meal with a nice serving of baklava ($1.49).
Now, just ignore this BYOB institution's décor — its small dining area is only surrounded by pale yellow walls and a few random artifacts, including a large hookah. Sahara doesn't try to bring the Middle East to those visiting through its decorations; instead it lets the food do all the talking.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Kimber Solana