A gold, onion-shape dome decorating the entrance to this storefront is one sign that Sultan’s Market (2057 W. North Ave.) is not your average “convenience store” / restaurant. Sultan’s has established itself over the years as one of the foremost Indian spots in town. They pride themselves in not only serving some of the most authentic cuisine, but they also provide guests with a salad bar option that has just about every cold salad and vegetable you could possibly want to enjoy. The restaurant is the work of Shadi Ramli who emigrated to the United States from Jordan in 1984.
With two locations in the city, we are lucky enough to be moving right down the street from their Wicker Park storefront. From the moment you walk through the front door you’re overwhelmed with the aroma of slow roasting lamb and chicken featured in their Shawerma plates and sandwiches. You can also take in the smell of delicious and just baked meat and veggie pies – a must try for a “light” starter.
On this venture out Jill went with the salad bar. As you can see, there is no possibly shortage of options whether you prefer a standard more traditional variety or a more Indian influenced selection of cold salads, legumes and other goodies.
Everything is extremely fresh, they maintain their salad bar well keeping it both stocked and clean throughout service. I’ve actually witnessed an employee going through the bin of lettuce and with tongs, picking out any wilted leaves – you can tell they take pride in their bar – as they should.
I began my meal with one of their meat pies. It’s simple and cheap, but is very tasty and different from anything else offered in the area at least. You start with a soft dough similar to that used for pizza. Filled with minced beef and lamb that has been simmered in spices for hours, the dough is rolled up into a sort of “sealed taco” if you will, and served as is.
Enjoying the pie at a more room temperature was perfect. It’s one of those items that when made ahead of time, the flavors are allowed to mingle more. If the pie was served hot, it would be an ooey gooey mess – not worth it.
No sauce? No problem. There is a small condiment bar that is available to anyone dining at Sultan’s. On the bar you’ll find at least two different kinds of hot sauce, a kinda spicy herbaceous cream based sauce as well as lemons, and water for self service.
I ordered the Lamb Shawerma Sandwich. Marinated, spit roasted and perfectly sliced lamb is carefully tucked into a fresh and warm pita pocket. You absolutely cannot have a great sandwich if you start with a stale and cold pita. I mean, this would be like starting a great deli corned beef sandwich with crumbly two day old rye – boo.
The way the sandwich is constructed is key. You need to be able to actually get the sandwich in your mouth, enjoying all the ingredients as the chef intended. The lamb is topped with fresh onions, tomato slices and their Jerusalem salad.
Even though the lamb is incredible – savory, salty, a bit sweet and super tender, it’s the Jerusalem salad that brings the dish together. They start with diced cucumbers as a base and add tomatoes, parsley, Tahini olive oil and a spritz of lemon juice. It’s unique and full of different flavors and textures. It’s available as a salad in fact, but it just works so well on the Shawerma pockets.
Jill and I couldn’t be happier with the new neighborhood we will soon get to explore. Restaurants on every corner and a whole new array of different shops to experience. There is one thing for sure though; we will be spending many a lunch at our local Indian spot – Sultan’s Market.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat!