Ambrosia: Greek mythology’s sweet nectar of the gods, rumored to help Zeus and crew maintain their immortality. Serious research has led us to conclude that this god-appropriate cuisine is in fact the Kalamata chicken sauce at Athenian Room. It may not be your traditional Greek restaurant, but it’s one of our and Tina Fey’s favorites, and this classic Lincoln Park spot knows exactly what it’s doing. While they don’t have saganaki on the menu, they do have their signature Chicken Kalamata Dinner, and that’s more than good enough for us. It’s not only one of the best bang for your buck meals in all of Chicago, it’s simply one of the best meals as far as we are concerned. Half a roasted chicken, side salad, and Greek fries, or as we like to call them, crack fries, all for about $14.
The brick walls don’t exactly evoke the same architectural awe as The Parthenon, but it’s a homey little place with a cozy atmosphere. Athenian Room is great for a casual lunch or dinner with family and friends, and there are even a few outdoor tables for those quaint summer evenings in Lincoln Park, which you most definitely need to take advantage of.
On top of the familial atmosphere and food, Athenian Room is also connected to the bar next door, Glasscott’s, via a super-not-so-secret-walkway. You can’t order alcohol at your Athenian Room table, but feel free to order a beer at the Glascott’s bar and bring it on back. And if you’re looking to escape the G-rated family atmosphere of Athenian Room while still getting your Chicken Kalamata fix, post up at Glascott’s altogether where the menu is close enough to the same.
If you frequent Athenian for its crack chicken and fries, you know not to expect Michelin-starred service, but it’s something we feel the need to point out for any newcomers quick to judge. The wait staff is usually comprised largely of local students, and the lady who runs the place is known to be a bit loud and unapologetic. It’s all part of the charm though, and in no way detracts from the experience. Quite the contrary, in fact, it builds character, so get with the program and be part of the neighborhood.
Feta gets its own rundown! Drizzled with a little olive oil and accompanied with one single black olive, it’s good to eat on its own, with salad, or sprinkled on any of the meats.
Thick and traditional soup that’ll warm your whole body. It’s served only in the winter, a season currently reminding us it cannot be escaped.
Flaky phyllo pastry dough layered and baked with spinach on the inside. Not the best or worst you’ll ever have, but an appropriate starter if you’re in the mood.
Athenian Room’s signature dish. Half a juicy chicken over a bed of Greek fries, which are steak fries swimming in a deliciously well-seasoned oil and vinegar based sauce. Achilles for sure would have been immortal after eating this meal, or he would have gotten ambushed and killed while he napped. Either way, it’s a tough dish to beat.
If you’re not in the mood for chicken, this is our move. A heaping portion of gyro meat on a legit piece of pita. Go all out and make it a dinner platter over some Greek fries too.