This neighborhood Bucktown pub on the corner of Armitage and Hoyne is known for its vast selection of micro-brews and normally serves little food other than the typical pretzel sticks and such, so you might ask why I thought to include it in my Chicago Restaurant Guide.

The reason is this: every Tuesday night the Map Room offers a generously endowed buffet of ethnic foods, free of charge provided you buy two drinks first. Cokes and coffee will suffice. The food's country of orgin for all of the Tuesdays in a given month are listed on a chalkboard high above the extensive beer shelf behind the bar, and on their website ( The Tuesday night tradition originated about 3 years ago when the owners of the bar started to fraternize with the owners of some of the many ethnic restaurants in the Bucktown area. Now it has become somewhat of an underground phenomenon with legions of loyal customers crowding the place to sample their weekly ethnic meal.

The buffet is placed on the pool table in the back and starts at 7:00. Lately, one has to send a friend there as early as 5:30 to secure a table, otherwise your group may find themselves standing in a crowded corner holding your coats between your legs and fumbling with chopsticks.

When you walk in the door you are handed a slip of paper that serves as your two drink ticket. One must obtain two stamps on the card to redeem your plate of food. When the start of the buffet is announced a long line forms down the center of the small bar and sometimes out the door. Once you reach the pool/buffet table, a happy combination of staff from the map room and the week's featured restaurant are poised and ready to fill your plastic plate with a rounded meal usually consisting of 2 main and 2 side dishes. A large flag of the featured country waves proudly overhead. At 8:00, seconds are allowed, until the food is exhausted.

I have sampled Ethiopian, Guatamalan, Venezualan, Thai, Malaysian, French, Japanese, Chilian, Peruvian, and Morrocan food already at the Map Room. Tomorrow night I'll be introduced to a Russian meal.

back to Stylee's Guide to Chicago Restaurants

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