Kababs The Stars at Kabobi Grill

Why is it so many kebab joints in Chicago haven’t yet figured out how to master their grills? More often than not, chicken arrives dry; the same with lamb and beef. At least the cooks working the line at Kabobi Grill in Albany Park know what they’re doing. I popped in last night as I was driving down Kedzie, after seeing they had swung open their glass doors along the sidewalk.

The owner is part of the family who owns Reza’s, and when I first heard this, I was ready to head back outside and walk down to Noon O Kabab. But when he explained that his brothers threw him out of the business altogether, forcing him to start anew on his own, I had hope. I’ve always thought Reza’s was to Persian food what Butterfly Sushi was to real Japanese: a close approximation, but a far cry from the real thing. That’s why whenever I’m jones-ing for Persian, I usually go to Noon O Kabab. But as I saw families huddled over massive platters of rice and chicken and lamb – the women fully covered in hijabs – I figured it was legit.

I began with puffy, warm pita bread, close in texture and mouthfeel to my favorite at Naf Naf Grill. It served as an able scooper for the Persian yogurt with cucumbers as well as the kashkeh bodemjan – mashed eggplant with caramelized onions (I think Noon O’s version is still superior). Then I tried a kabab combination, choosing chicken thighs and lamb. The lamb arrived as a seekh kebab, minced and formed over a long skewer, seasoned with what looked like parsley, arriving incredibly juicy and soft-textured. It was clearly made to-order. Same for the chunks of charred and blistered chicken thighs, each kabab the size of a golfball, and oozing juices each time I cut into one. You get a choice of either dill or plain basmati rice, or just get it 50-50. The platters also come with a lime wedge, a couple of charred tomatoes and some raw red onions, and are always served over a thin, pancake-like lavash that covers the entire radius of the steel, circular tray. This also serves as a vehicle for rolling up and making impromptu sandwiches or wraps; don’t be afraid to ask for a side of tahini or homemade hot sauce. You’re going to be here for awhile.

Kabobi Grill

4748 N. Kedzie


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