Don't be fooled by the elderly customers, sometimes-cranky servers and all brown and taupe decor; Salonica is as welcoming a restaurant as you can find in the city. The Greek-American diner has been satiating the appetites of students since the mid '70s, though from looking at it, it would be easy to assume Salonica had been around as long as the University of Chicago itself.
Of the three meals served at this cash-only joint, the all-day breakfast is the undisputed star. Fluffy omelets brimming with feta and gyros ($5-$6.50) compete with steak and eggs ($7.50-$11) for the attention of hungry students. Hash browns are the shredded and fried type; no healthful or rustic home fries available on this menu. Everything seems just as you'd expect it at a venerable diner, right down to the burnt-tasting coffee.
Lunch and dinner offerings lean more to the Greek side of things. Souvlaki, pastichio and mousaka are always on the menu, with none costing more than $9. The fantastic lemon orzo soup ranks high on the comfort food meter, but is only available on weekends, so plan accordingly. Once past the Greek dishes, the menu becomes to look like that of a standard diner. Choose from barbecue chicken, hamburgers of various types and an assortment of hot and cold sandwiches—or don't, as no one else seems to. Best to stick with the breakfast foods and the Greek specialties. Settle your bill at the front of the restaurant, where, in addition to paying for your meal, you can pick up a post-meal mint or piece of chocolate for just a few extra pennies.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Laura Oppenheimer