Thursday, December 07, 2006

Quick Loop Falafel: Haifa

Haifa Cafe: (Loop) Chicago
318 W. Adams St. (with additional Loop locations: 163 N. Wells, 19 N. Wells, 410 S. Clark)

On my walk to Haifa Cafe through the valleys of the tall buildings in Chicago’s financial district, I counted seventeen signs on my side of the sidewalk warning of the danger of falling ice. What exactly should one do about such dangers? Walk while continuously looking up only to look back down to avoid cars racing stale yellow lights? I didn’t want to take time for such madness. This was a quick lunch jammed with three errands: drop used batteries for recycling at Walgreens, purchase screws at the local Ace Hardware and drop into the shoe doctor to see about resoling shoes. An affirmative lady at the shoe doctor took how I felt about getting the most of my lunch break to the next level of efficiency. It went something like this:

Lady: We can't resole them.
Chris: But they’re supposed to be resoleable.
L: Who told you they can be resoled?
C: The manufacturer.
L: Then you tell the manufacturer to resole them.

At Haifa Care, I enjoyed a sandwich that could have contended for messiest falafel in town -at least after the pita ruptured. They had added grilled eggplant and hot pepper mix like I asked for. I sat in one of three stools at the counter by the window next to a 30-gallon trashcan –the only place to eat in this long and narrow take-away (their Clark St. and one of their Wells St. locations have more seating). I looked outside and caught people looking at me eat as they walked by. Just as I would notice, they would turn away. I felt like I could have been a window ad for Haifa featuring one of their tasty sandwiches if only I could lure people in. Construction scaffolding above the sidewalk went well with the trashcan inside. A messenger watched me eat as he unlocked his bike from the scaffold. He nodded to me when I noticed him. Perhaps I should have been nodding to lure the sidewalk people in. Maybe I’ll try that next time.

Another Visit: Friday, December 8, 2006

I returned to Haifa and, this time, tried nodding at a sidewalk person. I was eating Haifa's vegetarian kalya, a seasoned combination of zucchini slices, lima beans, carrot slices, broccoli and pea pods with garlic over yellow rice. I'm quite glad that the cashier asked me if I wanted the homemade tomato sauce. I told him yes and he sent the Styrofoam container back to the line. The sauce's tang helped distract me from the sogginess of the overcooked veggies. One falafel piece, pita and hummus come with and round out the meal. Unlike my previous visit, I nodded at a sidewalk person who I noticed might have been watching me eat and they walked into Haifa. Perhaps they were coming here anyway. As I was leaving, the cashier asked me how the food was. I told him they should do something about the Styrofoam. I wish, I wish, he told me.

Other vegan options: falafel sandwich (with tahini, lettuce, tomato and Jerusalem salad), grilled eggplant sandwich (seasoned and topped with tomato sauce, lettuce, tomato and Jerusalem salad), falafel plate (falafel, hummus, salad and pita), freshly squeezed orange, carrot or apple juice, various smoothies, baba ghanouj, tabuleh salad, hummus, Jerusalem salad and bagels with or without peanut butter (breakfast).


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