Chicagoans associate Devon Avenue almost singularly with a vibrant Indian community, and vibrant Indian food. But travel a bit further west on Devon, and it morphs into a Russian community, home to some of the city’s best stores for Russian and eastern European fare. We set out with one of our good friends, a Russian-born New Yorker from Brighton Beach no less, to see just what Devon had to offer. We figured it was perfect timing to inspire you to get some Russian goodies in honor of the winter Olympics in Sochi!
Our first stop on Devon was Argo Georgian Bakery (2812 W. Devon Ave.), a place we had been meaning to try for quite a while. Right in the center of the store was an amazing Georgian oven. There were an assortment of delicious baked goods for sale, and we especially enjoyed the Hachapuri (Georgian bread stuffed with cheese). You can also get a variety of breads (lavash and shoti), and bean-filled breads (lobianai) and also frozen foods to bring home. We are carb lovers, and absolutely adored the freshness and artistry of these breads.
We were not lucky enough to see bread being removed from the huge beehive-shaped oven, the toné. But we have learned how the bread is made: it operates similar to a tandoori oven, where the bread is stuck to the side walls as it cooks.
After filling up on bread at Argo, we headed over to Three Sisters Delicatessen (2854 W. Devon Ave.). Three Sisters is a nice, but small, specialty store absolutely jam-packed with treats from Russia. One one side there is a large meat case, and a selection of some pretty appealing looking cakes. You are also in luck if you are in the market for caviar, salted fish, or Russian cookies and chocolates.
At first sight the blandly-named City Fresh Market (3201 W. Devon Ave.) looked like a typical neighborhood grocery store. But once we got inside, our friend got so excited: the market has a strong Eastern European flavor, with a huge array of Eastern European canned goods and deli items. Her personal favorite, and ours, was the huge pickle bar, packed with unusual things like pickled tomatoes (as seen below). This was a real standout, and unlike anything else we had seen in Chicago!