Open Tab: Habibi In offers flavor, spice and everything nice
March 5, 2020
This winter has been brutal, especially for a Floridian like myself, but there’s nothing like a bit of spice to warm you right up. A home of flavor, Habibi In Mediterranean Grill is your place to go for a hot meal (and, I mean, hot). Located just off the corner of Sherman and Church, Habibi In offers Evanston residents flavorful Middle Eastern cuisine and hot sauce spicy enough to warrant a warning — a real warning, as in there-is-a-sign-on-the-counter kind of warning.
When you walk in, you’re greeted with a clean interior decorated with photos of sandy deserts and people donning colorful clothes. The upbeat music follows you up to the counter, which is littered with phrases like “Everyone deserves white sauce” and “Either you love shawarma or you’re wrong.” At that point you have to decide what to order, which is no easy feat considering the options you have. But lucky for you (and me), I can make that easier on you.
Their menu offers a range of entrees, most of which offer a choice of protein (with falafel available as a vegetarian option) over rice ranging from about ten to 18 dollars on the upper end. The meats are well-seasoned and the bed of rice underneath, a mix of two, is fluffy and fresh. Be warned though — half the rice has a strong kick, so don’t forget to order a drink. Personally, I would recommend the mint tea, plunged in a pitcher large enough for three. You also can order sandwiches like their gyro or chicken shawarma wrap and add on a salad or side for a few dollars more.
And whatever you do, please, for the love of all that is good in this world, do not miss out on the hummus. Paired with fresh, soft pita (which we shamelessly ordered more of), it was the highlight of my meal. And yes, I will dedicate an entire paragraph to it. The hummus tasted like the chickpeas had melted onto the plate mere moments before it was drizzled with olive oil, spices and fresh herbs. Thankfully, we even had enough to eat with our entrees, but I lacked the self control to stop eating it even after I was full.
If you’re looking for a hot spot for their “Falafel Friday,” Habibi In is the place to go. I’m a bit disappointed that I just discovered it in my last two weeks in Evanston, so I’m bestowing you with the gift of knowledge now. It’s a hidden gem in the Evanston food scene, with plating nice enough for your Instagram story and enough heat for the month of March.
Oh, and if you try the hot sauce, let me know how hot it really is — I wasn’t brave enough to find out.