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The Chicago Traveler

Magnolia Café

by Matt B on May 22nd, 2007

Magnolia Café is a romantic hidden gem that has blossomed into Chicago’s best place for creative comfort food. Kas Medhat, the owner, had a vision to start a neighborhood restaurant, somewhere that was reasonably priced with high-quality food. The menu changes with the seasons and is what he calls “American homestyle.” The open floor plan, loft ceiling, candlelight, and exposed brick walls create a warm, inviting scene. The cozy, elegant dining room makes Magnolia an ideal place for a date.


Starters include prosciutto salad with shaved fennel, tangerines, and balsamic syrup; the popular crab cakes are big enough to share. Entrees focus on red meat and shellfish, including grilled salmon with curry-tomato coulis, pork tenderloin with creamed leeks and applewood-smoked bacon, grilled salmon with vegetable fricassee, and braised beef short ribs with potatoes and spinach. Sea scallops are paired with beet risotto in a blood-orange sauce. A chipotle pork quesadilla dish is lively and vibrant with pepper-jack cheese.

Don’t fill up too fast on the food though; you don’t want to miss out on desserts like crème brulee, chocolate chip brioche pudding, and a decadent banana split. The management warns that the posted closing times aren’t strictly followed, so call ahead if you plan on dining late into the evening. The restaurant is just a couple blocks away from Green Mill, the oldest jazz club in the U.S. and one of the city’s liveliest jazz venues, making for a splendid night out in Uptown.

Photo credit: Chance Agrella c/o Freerange

Magnolia Café ($$$): 1223 W Wilson Ave; 773-728-8785
Tues - Sat: 5:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Sun: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.; 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Street parking available
Public trans: Bus # 36, 145, 148 or Red Line train (Wilson)

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POSTED IN: Restaurants

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