You might be thinking that this article is pointless, as you could eat at Portillo’s every day and be entirely happy. But it’s time to broaden those horizons. Illinois has a ton of people from other countries, bringing their culture and cuisine with them. Here are nine awesome restaurants to check out with amazing ethnic food.
1. Maize Mexican Grill
In its short life, Maize has created quite a following. They are serving up authentic food just as they remember it from the streets of Mexico City to Champaign. The place is small, and it's no-frills. But the food is amazing. I've seen plenty of people sitting in the parking lot and eating the food. It's that good. It's so much fresher tasting than those chain burrito places. Whoa!
2. El Greco Restaurant
If you need your Greek food fix...head to Carbondale? This place is part of the SIU experience. You will love the gyros. But people also rave about the homemade fried mushrooms. I don't think that's Greek, but that sounds amazing.
3. Taj Indian Cuisine
At Taj, you can get some of the better Indian cuisine in Illinois. They are in Edwardsville, by the way. Hey, why have so many of you never given Indian food a chance? It's amazing. At Taj, you can experience both Northern and Southern Indian cuisine (there's a big difference). And lunch is buffet style, so if you are so-so about something, you'll find something else to love.
4. THAI-D Classic Thai Cuisine
THAI-D is the first Thai restaurant in Marion, and it's been making the case since it opened (2009) to be one of the better Thai joints in Illinois. The ambiance is warm and inviting and the cuisine, although comfortable, is nuanced. Fresh chilis and basil make all the difference in these dishes. Mmmm.
5. Ethiopian Diamond Restaurant
Ethiopian cuisine is so good yet so under-appreciated. If you've never had it before, you probably don't understand that Ethiopian dining is an experience, and it's communal. Head to Chicago to check out Ethiopian Diamond. The food is vibrant and fresh, and you'll have a great time here.
6. Al Bawadi Grill
Dudes, you've been eating your meat wrong all this time. Do it Middle Eastern style! Head to Al Bawadi Grill in Bridgeview. It's festive and colorful and fun. Oh, and the food rocks, too.
7. Reza's Restaurant
Reza's is a fantastic place for Mediterranean food, and it's super awesome if you're a vegetarian. The dill rice is AMAZING and you're gonna love the kabobs. They have a couple of locations in the Chicagoland area.
8. Shogun Japanese Restaurant
Got a craving for great Japanese? Then head out to Rockford. Wonderful service and--most important--awesome sushi. You'll love it.
9. Edelweiss Restaurant
If the name of this restaurant doesn't make you start singing, I don't know what will. This time of year, especially, I get a craving for classic German food. They're a lot of fun on the weekends, when the music is playing. It's a great place to get a beer, and the food is really, really yummy.
What is your favorite place to get great ethnic food? Let us know in the comments.