You never read about Orange Garden, though Ravenswood foodies have known about this mainstay for years. Regulars have christened its Cantonese cuisine the most authentic anywhere outside of Chinatown. The Garden opened circa 1923, and it shows in the dated decor: faded murals of pagodas, ornate Oriental fixtures and sconces, grimacing golden dragons above the door and a blinking neon sign outside that's seen brighter days. And no Chinese restaurant would be complete without those retro Zodiac placemats that call you vain and then tell you to marry a monkey.
Start off by sipping the complimentary hot tea, then move on to popular starters like hulking egg rolls or the possibly perfect crab rangoon. After that, you're on your own. The menu lists no less that 131 varieties of chop suey, chow mein, fried rice, chow fun, lo mein, war mein and egg foo young, as well as your traditional beef, chicken, pork and vegetable dishes. Standards like the sweet sesame chicken won't disappoint, while the bitter, garlic-laden shrimp lobster-style won't appeal to everyone. Whatever you choose, portions are heaped high on the plate, and service is swift and accommodating, if a little brusque. BYOB.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Foreman