It was a dreary, winter day in January–the kind of day where you wished you lived in L.A. or Miami with infinite amounts of sun and warmth to get you through the day. I was still happy to be in Logan Square, but the dreariness certainly cast a shadow upon the beauty of the neighborhood. Where are all the happy dogs at?
Yaba’s Food & Middle Eastern Grill (3011 W. Armitage Ave.) cast a warm glow in the middle of my day as I was able to try an assortment of their scrumptious vegan/vegetarian specialties from Palestine. They also serve gyros, shawarma, and kabab if you’re looking for something heavier. While this stretch of Armitage seems to be getting a new spot once a month, which is elating, we are still lacking in quick, pick-up options that are affordable and veg-friendly.
Ghaleb Masoud, the owner of Yaba’s opened his new eatery space in the back of his long-standing grocery, convenience store, Plaza Food Mart in December. They are open from 10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and they hope to extend their hours for the late-night crowd. There is a bit of standing room, but be sure to have a dedicated space to eat your food if you’re on the go. They are also on Uber Eats and Grubhub in case you’re too cold to make the trip.
Masoud, who is originally from Palestine has been a long-time resident of Logan Square for 30 years and brings his Palestinian recipes to life for the community. He is all about cultivating a space that not only serves delicious food but also community and hospitality to his loyal customers.
Yaba means father in Arabic, which his children call him and now is the nickname customers use as well. Masoud makes it a point to greet all of his customers and if you have to wait awhile since it is a small, family-run business, you will be given a warm cup of their super flavorful lentil soup. The spices are a perfect mélange of comfort food to get you through a long Chicago winter.
What to Order
If you want to try a wide variety of their vegetarian dishes, I highly recommend the Vegetarian Combo Platter. For $12 you will get a generous portion of their perfectly crispy falafel, their excellently smoked baba ghanoush, their toothsome hummus, refreshing salad, and savory grape leaves or sub it out for a tasty spinach pie! And don’t forget to try their tahini, hot sauce, and garlic sauce to go with your falafel and spinach pie.
Yaba’s is a much-needed edition to the neighborhood given the lack of Middle Eastern cuisine. Logan Square’s racial demographics as of 2019 was 45.9% white, 43.5% Latinx, 5.0% black, 3.2% Asian, and 2.3% “other,” according to Community Data Snapshot. While the Latinx population has somewhat historically been represented in the cuisine, the demographic changes are resulting in less representation.
Now we see more East and South Asian spots in Logan Square with restaurants like Superkhana, Namaste, and Spice Room. While there are some newer Mediterranean restaurants, there is nothing that classifies itself as Middle Eastern even though there are intersections between the two cuisines.
While we have such a multifaceted food scene here, there aren’t too many places in Logan Square (there are some in Wicker Park and Bucktown) where you can get authentic and affordable falafel to go. The neighborhood is fortunate to have such a genuine business that is introducing to its community the mouthwatering flavors of Palestine. So warm up with some lentil soup and chomp on some falafel while you browse for that last-minute ingredient you need for your instapot recipe. You won’t regret it!
Vegan Options Rating: ★★★★1/2
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★★1/2
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★1/2
Food Quality: ★★★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★1/2