Montenegro: Deta’s Cafe [closed]

montenegroDeta’s Cafe
7555 N. Ridge
Chicago, IL

The thing about places with small menus is that they usually do those few items really well. And the menu of Deta’s is about as small as they get. Think 2 items. Deta’s itself is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it small, tucked into a small storefront on Ridge off of a bustling stretch of Howard. At Deta’s you basically have a choice of either a Burek or a salad, and the dessert of the day. The showpiece of Deta’s is definitely the Burek, an intricate cousin of the calzone, which is a coiled pastry with a variety of fillings – Deta’s does meat or cheese. Call ahead if you have a particular preference – there was only meat when we visited.

deta1

Between the two of us we ordered a Greek salad ($6) and a meat Burek ($6.50). The Greek salad was simple but fresh, with tomatoes, red and green bell peppers and a generous helping of feta. The salad was bigger than we expected, but it was nowhere near as zaftig as the burek. As you can see below, the burek is monster-sized. The photo only features one half! The Burek is something of a national obsession in Montenegro, and is a major source of local culinary pride. And we can say that Deta’s does it proud. The crust was flaky and tender, and the ground beef filling was tasty and delicately spiced. We even surprised ourselves by finishing the massive dish. According to the menu, the burek is typically served with a yogurt drink, not typically ordered by American patrons. However we didn’t notice this until after we ordered!deta2

Eating at Deta’s is like eating in your grandma’s living room. We kind of get the sense that this little cafe does pretty much serve as Deta’s living room. During our meal, Deta and a group of relatives and friends chatted and noshed in a big table behind us while music from Montegenro blared over dubbed soap operas. After dinner we chatted with Deta. We told her that we would have like to try the enigmatic yogurt drink mentioned on the takeout menu- and I think she was impressed by our modest attempt at culinary authenticity. She told us to try the yogurt next time and also to call in advance – she would make whatever type of Burek we wanted. We’re looking forward to making a return visit to try the cheese burek and to talk with Deta – she’s the Montenegrin grandma we never had!deta3

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