A Quick Word:
Whenever I am out near the Oak Lawn area, I find it hard to locate mainstream restaurants. Dive restaurants are much easier to come by. Unfortunately, with dives, there is a huge variety of what you will stumble across. Rito's Coffee, which is a few miles from Advocate Christ Hospital, is an Eastern European inspired restaurant that I recently tried. Upon first entering the restaurant, you are unsure if they actually serve food or just coffee. The room is very warm and only a few tables are seen. The kitchen is non-existent... literally. I don't think they actually cook at the restaurant. It looked like a huge prep station with a microwave oven tucked in the corner. The food was either hit or miss and when it was a "hit," it was still just average. It was hard to even give this place a 2 mile rating, but they did have a light purple soup that was extremely refreshing. I doubt I would ever go back, but if you are in the area... I guess try it rather than settling for Subway.
What I Ate:
Chilled Beet Soup
A chilled beet soup was part of my friend's meal. This interestingly colored soup was actually very tasty and refreshing. I personally haven't had too many cold soups, but on a hot day, this one would do the trick. The soup is simple--plenty of macerated beets that are strained and topped with a slice of hardboiled egg and a generous amount of dill. It comes out a beautiful purple color that doesn't seem appetizing, but after tasting, your spoon will keep going back for more. It was very fresh and had a little bitterness to it. I would get this again... maybe with one of their salads for lunch!
Chicken Bake with Quinoa with Spinach Salad
For my lunch entree, I decided on the chicken bake with quinoa. This meatloaf-like patty is made with ground chicken, quinoa, diced veggies, and is topped with cheddar cheese. It is served with a spinach salad that has sliced strawberries, slivered almonds, and dried cranberries. A light raspberry vinaigrette dresses the salad. Upon first bite of the chicken bake, you realize that is is pre-made and simply warmed in the back kitchen. It was on the dry and season-less side of the meatloaf spectrum. The cheddar cheese on top adds absolutely nothing. The main flavor is chicken and a nutty flavor from the quinoa is appreciated. The salad was the better part of the dish. But, how can you really mess up a sweet, fruity salad. The stewed potatoes had very minimal flavor. If somehow I ended up at this restaurant again, I would probably just order a salad.
The homemade coffee cake is a special of the owner's wife. It isn't on the menu, so you have to ask to see if she has a slice available. This yellow cake has an incredible praline and coffee icing. It is topped with shaved chocolate and a little coffee. The dessert isn't too sweet, but you still get that satisfying chocolate flavor. The cake was soft and fluffy. I couldn't really complain , except the cost was a little high for such a small slice.
After seeing this interestingly looking dessert, I asked the owner what it actually was. He told me it was their version of baklava, just not as sweet. I am a sucker for a good baklava so I bought a piece for home. After my first bite, I was DISAPPOINTED. This dessert was AWFUL. The phyllo dough sheets were undercooked and tasteless. In fact, biting into this dessert was like biting into thin sheets of tasteless paste. I swear there was no sugar added. I can't believe they actually sell this stuff... or maybe they don't since the display was still full of this poor-excuse of a pastry. Do not order!
- Do try their beet soup and salads. I think these simple items are the better options at their restaurant.
- Do support this "mom and pop" cafe. It is better than Subway next door, but a little on the pricier side.
- I wouldn't try all their desserts. And DO NOT try their "baklava". It is awful.
How far would I walk for this food?