157 E. Ohio Street
After living in Chicago for many years, the Eaters are always surprised at how there are still-hidden gems in even the most “explored” places. Sayat Nova is another one of these unexpected finds, tucked away on Ohio street literally right next to the giant Gap store on Michigan Avenue. Sayat Nova has been serving Armenian food in this very location for over 30 years and we can understand why. When you enter the restaurant you are greeted by low lighting and cool little booths fitted with curtains and metal lanterns. Zagat called the decor “seedy,” but we were expecting a more spartan storefront, and found the atmosphere pretty nice.
The food also delivered, and was a step more interesting than your typical kebab and falafel middle eastern place (though those options are available on the menu, too). L ordered a Cheese and Spinach Boereg, which was similar to the Greek Spanakopita, and was filled with spinach and a creamy cheese sauce. M had Fried Kibbee, and it was one of the most unique dishes he had ever had. Kibbee consisted of cracked wheat baked on top of ground, spiced lamb – an interesting flavor and texture combo (the dish is also available raw, for the particularly adventurous). The Kibbee came with a green salad topped with jajik, a creamy garlic yogurt sauce. Our friend Jess ordered Stuffed Eggplant and Sarma, grape leaves stuffed with minced lamb and vegetables. The eggplant was generously sized and full of lamb, green peppers and both dishes were perfectly spiced.
The table shared a plate of hummus and pita. The hummus was fresh and excellent, and we had to request more pita to scrape every last morsel off the plate. The server was happy to oblige and brought out some more pita for free. We were surprised that there were only a few tables full during our weekday lunch, but we are sure to be back. Jess works nearby and was happy to have a new lunch option. Sayat Nova is our new go-to lunch stop when on Michigan avenue, and it is many cuts above the rest of the street’s chain offerings.