Sometimes you can’t truly understand the need for something until it’s a part of your life. Like a pet or significant other - or one of those big, puffy blanket coats you used to make fun of people for wearing. Turns out, when you live in a city that’s visited by the occasional polar vortex, leaving the house in a sleeping bag isn’t a bad idea.
SP Kebab in Rogers Park also falls into this category for us. It’s a very casual counter-service place that you could easily go for years without knowing about - but once you’ve eaten here, you’ll be ready to put it on the GPS equivalent of speed-dial.
The menu ranges from salads to hummus and falafel, but you’re really here for the delicious doner-style kebabs. And whether you’re eating in or taking your kebab to-go, you’ll be doing your best A Beautiful Mind impression at the counter trying to figure out the ideal ingredient combination. That’s because you have a lot of options. There’s chicken or pork, either of which you can get in a pita, wrap, or cup - or on a plate, if you like seeing your food spread out in all its glory. Then, you need to choose from fries, a side salad, or both - and in addition to all that, there are three excellent housemade sauce options. We go back and forth on which meat is our favorite, but we really can’t decide, since both are perfectly seasoned and juicy. Whichever we get, we like it wrapped in lahmuchan (a thick flatbread) with garlic and hot sauce, and stuffed with French fries. It’s the size of a large baby, way less responsibility, and you’ll love it the same way.
In a big, sprawling city like ours, there are plenty of restaurants you’re not going to come across if you keep to a routine. After all, between work, home, and that one coffee place that takes your embarrassingly long order without judgment, there’s not always a ton of room for variety. But whether or not you usually find yourself in the area, SP Kebab is too good to miss out on - which is why you’ll find us returning here even in the middle of the winter, in our puffy blanket coats, holding onto the lahmuchan for extra warmth.
The housemade lahmuchan (a thick flatbread) is our favorite delivery system for SP’s kebabs. Stuff it with pork and french fries, and plan not to be hungry for about two days.
The pita is thinner than the lahmuchan, but it’s still a huge piece of bread. We like filling it with chicken and salad (romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, and cabbage) when we don’t plan on taking a nap after coming here.
If you prefer your kebab deconstructed, order it on a plate. It’s less efficient than the sandwich options, but the ingredients are (unsurprisingly) just as good.
The salads here are served in large fried tortilla bowls, so don’t worry - they’re not totally healthy. The SP salad, with lettuce, walnuts, dried apricots, dried cranberries, and prunes, is our favorite. Yes, it sounds like a fruitcake, but it’s also very good.
This hummus isn’t going to blow your mind, but it’s certainly worth ordering. It’s thick and comes with fried tortilla pieces for dipping.
The falafel falls into the same category as the hummus - not the best, not as delicious as the meat, but worth ordering if you like falafel. It comes with tzatziki, but order a side of garlic sauce, too - your breath will be unbearable, but it’s worth it.