Taboun Grill Review - A Win-Win Winner

Taboun Grill in Rogers Park

When my friend Susan suggested that I review Taboun Grill, I agreed with her immediately.  I had known about the first of its two locations and then watched as the second one promised to open and then finally did.  So on an unusually pleasant fall day, Chicago Splash Magazine reviewers Susan and Kay enjoyed a lovely lunch at the new Taboun Grill and learned more about it than they expected.

Anat Trace, owner, manager and all aound “cook and bottle washer” told us the Taboun story.  “We saw a need for an authentic, kosher Israeli grill, just like the ones in Israel. At the time there were none. The Skokie location attracted us when we saw the renovation plans for the site and the location. We wanted to be close to the expressway so our north suburb customers won't have to drive all the way to Chicago.

The new Taboun

Taboun Grill opened in January 2003 in West Rogers Park in Chicago. We opened our second location in Skokie in April 2009. My brother and I own both restaurants, and our mom is the cook. We take great pride in serving high quality, authentic food, as well as creating a warm, friendly environment for our customers, whom we respect and appreciate very much. It's definitely a labor of love. We couldn't see ourselves doing anything else.”

Taboun Grill boasts, “Authentic Israeli Cuisine” and Susan, who should know, enthusiastically agrees that it is just that.

Susan and Kay ready to try pickles and pickled beets

Pickles and pickled beets are offered to customers as soon as they are seated and Susan and Kay found them delicious.

Very soon, the table was presented with a series of items:

From the Appetizer (Nishnoushim) section of the menu there was Mix Combo (cigar, Kubeh, pastel) – potato filled pastel was crispy, flavorful but not too spicy, and though deep fried, remained light and not oily.

From the In a Pita section there was pita and Falafel – Pita (from North Shore Bakery) was wonderful, warm and toasted and the falafel is the best in this city, crispy outside and soft and pleasantly flavorful inside, just right.

To start there was pita,Moroccan eggplant, cigar, kubeh, pastel, falafel,Baba ghannouj, pickles and pickled beets

From Salads (Salatim) section there was Hummus, Baba Ghannouj, Moroccan eggplant, Israeli salad, Tahini, and Purple cabbage.  Baba Ghannouj – not overly garlicky, pleasant; Egg Plant – very good, not overly garlicky; Israeli salad – very fresh and crisp; Purple cabbage – fresh and crispy, delicious.

The From our Grill (Al Ha’esh) section yielded Kefta Kabab, Chicken Breast Kabab, Chicken Thigh Kabab and Chicken Shwarma. Favorites were the Kefta Kabab –moist and perfectly seasoned and Chicken Shwarma – tender, flavorful but not too spicy, very edible.

Looks good-grilled tomatoes, saffron rice, green beans, Israeli salad, Kefta kebab, Chicken breast kebab, Chicken thigh kebab and Chicken Shwarma

From the Side Dishes section there Saffron rice, Grilled tomatoes and Green beans – Saffron rice was delectable, separated grains, perfectly cooked; Green beans – just like in Israel, but fresh rather than from a can with a very flavorful with tomato sauce and onions.

From the Beverages section there was Nana (tea with mint).   Unique, and delicious, the fresh mint was lovely to look at and pleasant to taste.

Dessert-Date cookies, Chocolate mousse cake and Baklava (photo-Agnes)

And finally from Desserts there was Chocolate mousse cake, Baklava and Date cookies.  Chocolate mousse cake – divine, deeply chocolate and melts in your mouth; Baklava – a burst of cinnamon, perfect dough, nuts carefully ground and not dripping with honey, not too sweet, the best in Chicago; Date cookies, though rolled had a layered effect with the crispy dough contrasting with the soft, not too sweet date paste, yum.

Because they were taking pictures between courses, a young man seated nearby offered to eat the food if they were "only going to take pictures".  He was Joshua A. Mintzer, Principal from Saxony Capital, LLC( - none other than the developer of the center – the one Anat believed in.  His story is the other part of the win-win situation, so I will share it.

Joshua says, “I acquired the entire property in June 2007 from the owner of Design Studio, then leased back to him on a short-term basis (it was the first commercial property I ever bought). We ultimately got approved from the Village of Skokie to knock down the building and replace it with a bank and brand new 10,000 square foot strip center (now housing Panda Express, Bollywood Nail Salon, Subway, iTan and T Mobile). We also were approved to renovate the strip center on Gross Point, which we did. We renovated the façade, put on a brand new roof, new HVAC units, re-paved the entire parking lot, etc. It's now as good as new. We renewed Fed Ex Kinko's (the original tenant) and signed new leases with Dunkin Donuts and Taboun.

Taboun was the first tenant to take occupancy (besides Fed Ex who had been there since the original construction of the building in 1992). They believed in the location and we each believed in one another (I felt they were great operators with a great product that would do well here and they believed in my vision and that I would get the center stabilized and leased, even though this was my first development as an owner). In hindsight, I wish I would have charged them less rent and put a food allowance for myself in the lease. I don't even keep kosher and I eat at Taboun 3 days a week. I have introduced Taboun to my entire family (which is fairly large) and they now all come from Highland Park and Deerfield for Taboun. Not just to see me, but because they love the food.

While the overall center is only 80% occupied, it has life, not the norm on Dempster, and largely because of the traffic Taboun brings. The food is great, but the owners are even more impressive. They make everyone that comes through the door feel welcome and like family. Taboun has such an inherit warmth, I even used the
same stone wall they have up in my family room. Great food, great atmosphere, great ownership...two thumbs up!”

At your service - Ramona, Anat and Agnes

Kay and Susan and also have their thumbs up.  See what happens to your thumb when you try Taboun.

Taboun Grill Locations:

West Rogers Park
6339 N. California,
Chicago, IL, 60659,
Phone (773) 381 2606
Fax (773) 381 8211

8808 Gross Point Road,
Skokie, IL, 60077,
Phone (847) 965-1818
Fax (847) 965-1866

Sunday - Thursday: 11:00 am until 10:00 pm
Friday: 11:00 am until 2:00 pm
Saturday night: Available for private parties only - Call to inquire.
Take out, catering, special holiday and Shabbat menu

Photos: Barbara Keer

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