Andies Restaurant is still, bar-none, my favorite any-day restaurant in Chicago. Its fare is simple, nourishing and delicious; its extras are always appetizing, and its prices are as reasonable as they come. Further, as a vegetarian, I can say that the selection of meatless entrees cannot be beat in terms of number, variety and taste.

Located at 5253 N. Clark in Chicago, Andies is one of several Mediterranean restaurants to pop up in the heart of the typically Swedish Andersonville area (yes, I know that sounds weird, but trust me, it works) on Chicago’s north side. Via public transportation, it is conveniently located a few blocks west of the Berwyn stop on the Red line ‘el’, or directly on the route of the #12 Clark Street bus. It is a staple for Andersonville natives, and well-worth the trip if you live anywhere else.

Portions at Andies’ have been consistently generous but not overwhelming, and dinner is preceded by a basket full of yummy warm (fried?) pitas. My personal recommendations include the Vegetarian Dolma, Vegetarian Potato Chop and Mediterranean Stuffed Artichokes. The Vegetarian Combo Platters are also extremely good and enormous! My fiancé the omnivore also swears by the Apricot Chicken – just a little bit spicy but tempered with a fruity goodness. Personally, I could live on their dill rice alone: long, tender grains of luscious basmati tossed lightly in oil (mind you, this stuff is *never* greasy, just tasty) and loads and loads of dill. Also, don’t miss their Turkish coffee at the end of the meal. It looks like it could burn a hole in asphalt, and tastes like it too. Yum!

The dining room at Andie’s is cheery and brightly lit. The acoustics tend to amplify conversation so that the place always sounds boisterous, but it never gets so loud that it becomes uncomfortable or difficult to hear those around you. Service has always been excellent and … colorful, from the lovely girl with the rose tattoo on her wrist to the stoner with an excellent knowledge of wines. The owner makes nightly rounds of the place and double-checks that all is going smoothly. Bus-boys abound at every turn in the busy dining area, and as such drinks are quickly refilled and plates are promptly cleared.

The place is frequently a meet-up place for large groups, and they accommodate such orders admirably. While it can get quite busy, I have never made a reservation and I have never had to wait more than a few minutes for a table. Frankly, I didn’t realize how much I loved Andies until I had the misfortune to frequent their next-door neighbor, Reza’s. Spare yourself the disappointment, and keep on walking when you see that big red Reza’s sign. Andies’ will make you happy.

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