Crain's Business Chicago is reporting that 64 Chicagoland restaurants received a Bib Gourmand designation from Michelin on Wednesday. The Bib Gourmand award targets restaurants that you can get dinner for two and wine or dessert for $40 or less, minus tax and tip.
Of the 64 Chicago-area restaurants included two downtown Skokie businesses made the cut - and one of them isn't Libertad (which was recently rated by Chicago Magazine as one of the top 20 new restaurants.)
In fact, it was Yolo, located at 5111 Brown St., and Kabul House, also in downtown Skokie, and located at 4949 Oakton St. While Kabul House is easy to spot, Yolo is hidden off downtown Skokie's busiest business anchor on Lincoln Avenue and Oakton Street, or just around the corner from Village Inn, 8050 Lincoln Ave.
Skokie Patch reviewed Yolo in August of 2010. Back then, Patch food critic Bill Burman said, "Yolo opened quietly almost a year ago, but has recently begun to generate a lot of buzz. With restaurants like Rick Bayless' Topolobampo and Frontera Grill grabbing food section headlines and placing upscale Mexican cuisine into the spotlight, it's no wonder that other restaurateurs want to get in on the action."
Yolo and Kabul House were among some high company, too. Also included in the list was Stephanie Izard's Girl and the Goat (if you haven't checked this place out, go now.) Izard acclaimed prestige after winning Top Chef several years ago.
Some of the great things about Yolo is that it's BYOB, or "bring your own beer," and there's no corkage fee associated with that perk, either.
There are some downsides to this hidden gem, however.
The chips are store bought and it's disappointingly obvious. Luckily, the salsa, with which they're served, is fascinating and delicious. Orange-colored and pourable, Yolo's salsa has more in common with tomato soup than with the chunky red stuff you'll find the tables at most Mexican eateries. This spin on what would otherwise be a common dish is the beginning of the inventiveness, and could be said to be Yolo's trademark.
Meanwhile, Kabul House offers perhaps the best lunch special in Skokie. For about $8, you get a variety of options that are "oh so fresh."
Kabul House's long beloved restaurant was off the scene, however, for close to two and a half years. A 'Check Please' alum, regional foodies were well aware of its absence. The restaurant was missed: this thread at the LTHForum tracked the restaurant when it was open, then about to reopen in another location, even reporting to one another on the state of construction.
You can also check out our other restaurant reviews (this isn't the entire list, but there's quite a few) here.