Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sarkis' Cafe

Location: 2632 Gross Point Road, Evanston
Cost: About $8 per person

So it's been about two years since I started Jeff Eats Chicago, and I thought I should do something a little special to celebrate. When I think back to some of the funniest moments I've ever had at a restaurant, I always come back to my first night with the fraternity back in college. I'd just met both of my current roommates and whole bunch of other members. After a long night out we went to get some late night grub at Sarkis (which had a brief two year appearance in Champaign at the time). Somehow two of our friends had gotten into a debate about how much someone would need to pay them to eat hash browns out of their belly button. Now for those of you thank know Ricky, he's not shy. When they came to the total of $3, he proclaimed, "screw that, I'll do it for free." Plus, he used ketchup. Then, on our way out there was a party singing happy birthday to a girl, and at the end of the song Ricky went over and laid a big ketchupy smooch on her cheek. Some of you may find this story off-putting, but I will always cherish the hilarious memory.


I decided to get the crew together that had been there that night to go to the original Sarkis in Evanston. So in total we had Weiss, JR, Ricky, Wallace, Ockrim, Ludwig, the Professor, Scotty, and Rachel (to be fair, Scotty and Rachel were not in the original story, but really wanted to come along).

Sarkis is not meant for groups by any means. The front room has counter seating and a few booths cramped in. There's a room in the back with a few more tables for groups of 4 or 5. Somehow we smashed our party of 10 into the back corner (they were out of chairs though and Wallace sat in a high chair). They have a bunch of outdoor seating which was still covered in snow, but when it gets warm out practically doubles the seating capacity. If you grew up on the north shore, it's impossible to go to Sarkis without recognizing someone. The rest of the crowd is made up of local high school students and families.

The service is what it is. There's not really a host, but the owner saw our large group and tried to put something together. The waiter asked us whether or not we needed menus and we quickly said no. The menu is straightforward and so many of us had been there so many times. The point that the waiter felt comfortable asking this shows how many of their diners are regulars. Our food came out quickly although not all at the same time. When it came time to pay the bill, the owner simply asks you what you had on your way out. It's CASH ONLY, and this system works pretty smoothly. Sarkis is really cheap. You get some overwhelmingly large plate of food for about $8.

The Food
There are only so many things to get at Sarkis. Supposedly the omelets are fantastic, but I wouldn't know. I always end up ordering a Loretta (either bacon, turkey, or sausage aka "the disaster"). A Loretta is an open faced sandwich on french bread with your choice of meat, mayo, onion, green pepper, tomato, and what I'm pretty sure is white american cheese. It's greasy, delicious, nostalgic, and filling. Throw some hot sauce on there, and you've got yourself an unrivaled breakfast sandwich. A few people ordered the Special Grilled Cheese to change up the pace. It was special because it had a fried egg and bacon in addition to the cheese. It was simple and buttery. The only side anyone ordered was the hash browns. They come thinly cut, and you can order them with cheese and veggies (highly recommended). It's important to ask for them well done. They get a real nice crisp going.

The Bacon Loretta and Cheesy Hash Browns

The Special Grilled Cheese

 The Disaster

I think Ricky put it best on our way out by saying, "Sarkis is the mecca of breakfast." If you go there expecting some elegant, farm to table meal you'll be sadly disappointed. If you want a greasy, delicious platter of breakfast goodness then you'll have come to the right place. Also, nothing handles a hangover better than a Loretta. I have no idea how the off shoot restaurant in Lincoln Park is, but I'll check it out soon. For the original, I'm giving a Pearl Necklace, 5 out of 5.

Thanks to all of my friends that came to celebrate two years with me, and thanks to all of my readers for sticking with me thus far even with my endless typos. Much love.

Sarkis Grill on Urbanspoon


  1. Sarkis uses "Brick Cheese". It's the key to their sandwiches, omelets, etc. This is one of the reasons the Champaign Sarkis sucked - they didn't use the right cheese.

  2. I grew up on this place and love the memories. glad to see the food is still good.

  3. For my first Jeff Eats Chicago comment, I'd like to put in a small request. Can you pair every restaurant review with a picture of Richard? Kinda like wine and cheese - except food and Ricky.

    Just a thought. Keep up the good work

  4. I agree with Gurtz. Duck would like to see more Sticky with the reviews. Awesome reviews though and good taste in restaurants.

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