Hyde Park Eats – Vegetarian at the New Nile

By Yasmine Laasraoui

The Nile Restaurant, 1162 E. 55th St.

Contact: 773-324-9499, nilerestaurantofhydepark.com

Hours : Mon-Sat, 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.; Sun noon-9 p.m.

Delivery Hours: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun noon-9 p.m.

Rating: 4/5

I am no hummus aficionado, but I do crave the creamy chickpea dish on a regular basis. I set out to The Nile Restaurant’s new location at 1162 E 55th St. during a busy weekday lunch hour to taste their take on the dish, among its other Middle Eastern meals.

Hyde Park has been home to the Nile’s Palestinian, Jordanian and Lebanese cuisine for 22 years. When the “opportunity came up,” for a larger location closer to the University of Chicago campus, owner Rashad Moughrabi took it.

Moughrabi explained that many regular and new customers have followed the restaurant to its new location.

The new venue is modern with bright walls, honeycomb light fixtures and visible air ducts hanging from the ceiling, giving it a sleek industrial feel. The glossy, updated kitchen is visible from the seating area, where one can watch the rotating shawarma.

The menu is pleasing for both meat-lovers and vegetarians and offers the usual suspects: hummus, falafel and shawarma. The long list of entrees includes seafood, lamb, beef, chicken and vegetarian meals.

My lunch date and I shared the combination appetizer of stuffed grape leaves, falafel, hummus, babaganoush and warm pita bread. We selected the vegetarian Maklouba as our main dish.

The falafels had the perfect crunch, not to mention the smooth and tangy hummus (I would give it a B+).

I was glad to have someone to share the main dish with, as the portion was more than enough for the both of us. Made with rice, eggplant, cauliflower, potato, chickpeas and toasted almonds and spiced with garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg, the Maklouba was what I would call true comfort food. Served with a side of plain yogurt, the dish was both filling and heart-warming.

In addition to a sweet and nutty piece of baklava, our shared meal came to an affordable total of 20 dollars. Our waitress was friendly and knowledgeable, and the service, quick. The new Nile’s home-cooked food and pleasing atmosphere will have me satisfying my hummus craving there again in the near future.