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Mish Grill and Pita Cafe, Middle Eastern Eateries, Coming to Wicker Park

By Alisa Hauser | September 3, 2014 8:38am
 Two new Middle Eastern restaurants, Mish Grill and Pita Cafe, are coming to Wicker Park this fall.
Mish Grill and Pita Cafe
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WICKER PARK — Lovers of falafel and hummus, rejoice! Two new Middle Eastern restaurants are headed to Wicker Park this fall.

"I read about the area, and that different people in Wicker Park like to try new things. I was looking at places for two years," said Chef Mohammad "Abe" Hinnawi, owner of the new Mish Grill at 1413 N. Ashland Ave., about two blocks north of the Polish Triangle at Ashland, Division and Milwaukee avenues.

Replacing the long shuttered Marrakech restaurant, Hinnawi's Mish Grill will offer traditional Middle Eastern dishes such as hummus, falafel and shawarma, as well as steak, veal, fish and beef kabob dinner entrees.

Hinnawi, who lives in Homer Glen and moved to the Chicago area from Jerusalem in 1982, will serve as Mish Grill's chef along with help from his son, Rafat.

The BYOB restaurant, which can accommodate 32 people in the dining room, will eventually offer delivery, too.

Mish Grill is an expansion of Mishkenut Mediterranean, a popular eatery in Munster, Ind. that opened six years and is run by Hinnawi's daughter, Naheel Hinnawi.

Hinnawi said Mishkenut means "family together" in Hebrew.  The shortening of the name to Mish from the Indiana spot was prompted by the fact that, "American people hate big names," Hinnawi joked.

Mish Grill passed a city inspection last week and is just waiting for a gas hookup. 

"We are hoping to open as soon as possible," Hinnawi said on Tuesday.

Promising affordable prices such as $3.49 for six pieces of falafel, Hinnawi said he expects some of the same dishes popular at the original location to resonate with Wicker park customers such as a cranberry apple salad topped with feta cheese and pecans, which costs around $7.

For dessert, Mish Grill will offer homemade chocolate mousse and provide complimentary dark chocolate candies with almonds to patrons when the bill comes.

Drinks will include Turkish coffee and Lebanese teas.

Meanwhile, after a few months of anticipation, Pita Cafe at 2014 N. Damen Ave. is planning to open within the next two months, according to Nader "Danny" Yahya, owner of D & D Food and Liquor at 2009 W. Division St.

Yahya owns the shopping mall at the northwest corner of Damen and Division where Pita cafe will be located, next to a Subway.

Signs for Pita Cafe advertising "coming soon" appeared in the parking lot of the mall last week, prompting interest from passerby.

"People are excited. In a week or two we will have a Facebook page," Yahya said on Tuesday.

Pita Cafe will replace Cavalini Menswear, a suit shop that closed last year.

Once opened, both restaurants join the ranks of similar concepts in the neighborhood such as Shawarma Garden at 1951 W. Division St., along with Sultan's Market at 2057 W. North Ave. and Falafel & Grill at 1317 N. Milwaukee. Ave.

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