What's this? Did we just step into a wormhole and come out next to the pyramids of Egypt? No, but it's easy enough to make that mistake at Habibi, where the wallpaper is awesomely decked out with sprawling, vivid imagery of the aforementioned pyramids (not to mention the famed Egyptian Sphinx and various other hieroglyphic-laden sculptures). It's certainly a whole new world here in this Lebanese restaurant in Rogers Park, which practically bubbles with Middle Eastern charm and personality.
Take, for example, the lion-headed, non functioning fountain in the middle of the room that people have adorned with their names and personal messages. Better yet, try the fantastic Lebanese cuisine ("dishes for all occasions," according to the menu) that's moderately priced—as low as $2.50 and no higher than $20—and exquisitely prepared. Appetizers include hummus with shawerma, $6.99, and a whole host of salads. There's also seafood (grilled salmon kababs and grilled shrimp), grilled entrees (shish kabab beef and lamb chops) and special dishes like lamb shanks.
But best of all, the service is irreplaceable. The owner of Habibi makes absolutely sure that everything is exactly to your liking, even going so far as to add more chicken to the yafa chicken if you don't like rice, vegetables or baked potatoes as sides. "Excuse me, sir, I'll have the yafa chicken with a side of chicken and another side of chicken, please." Hey, don't judge; chicken tastes good.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Benjamin Andrew Moore