This is the first in our new series of posts in which we’ll feature casual local joints from fast casuals to delis and the cafes that we all frequent. If you have a favorite lunch spot or burger place you’d like us to cover, suggest it in a comment below. We consider all of life to be delicious content.
When you walk into Shokolad in Ukrainian Village, the first thing you’ll see is a bountiful pastry display case stocked with cakes, tarts and cookies. Shokolad is a great pastry shop and much more. The café menu features daily entrée specials plus a variety of Ukrainian/eastern European dishes such as varenyky (Ukrainian pierogies) with half a dozen fillings; borscht or sour kraut soup, served with little ricotta rolls. You can also order outstanding potato pancakes (weekdays only) served with mushroom sauce or sour cream.
Some of the daily entrees are holubtsi (stuffed cabbage) with tomato cream sauce, beef stroganoff, pork meatballs, hutsulske pechenya (beef with vegetables roasted in a clay pot), or roast leg of duck. A variety of hot panini and cold sandwiches are served on delicious bread from a local bakery. The sandwiches come with a carrot salad (not the kind with raisins served in your grade school cafeteria) and an excellent dill-flavored cabbage slaw. The menu also includes a variety of omelets, crepes and salads.
On my last visit, I ordered a fabulous grilled pepper and eggplant sandwich with fresh mozzarella and sun-dried tomato pesto. My friend had a veal cutlet in cream sauce with noodles. We had oreshki (walnut-shaped cookies with dulce de leche filling) for dessert. You can check out the cakes and dessert menu.
I’ve been to Shokolad eight or ten times over the last few years after my contact at the nearby Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art recommended it. I’ve never been disappointed in the food or service, which is always prompt and considerate. The café apparently does a large catering business; every time I’ve been there, people arrive to carry out large covered pans and platters of food. And it has a real neighborhood atmosphere with many of the lunch-time patrons stopping in for a meal break from work.
Halyna Fedus, originally from Ternopil, Ukraine, is the owner of Shokolad, which is located at 2524 W. Chicago Ave. It’s open Tuesday-Friday from 9am to 6pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm, and Sunday 9am to 4pm. Sandwiches and some entrees are $8-9 and daily specials range from $10 to $12.
If you have time for an art break, stop in at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, two blocks east at 2320 W. Chicago Ave., which has regular featured exhibits plus an excellent permanent collection. It’s a small museum founded by Ukrainian immigrants to the U.S. in 1971. It’s open 12-4pm Wednesday-Sunday. Admission is free but a donation will be appreciated. Tell them Nancy sent you.
Photos by Nancy Bishop.