First impressions: We're familiar enough with these order-from-the-counter lunch spots to consider referring to them as fast food. But you should slow down and smell the turkey when it comes Jaffa Bakery, a three-location restaurant owned by Abdul Eweida and named for the bakery in Jaffa, Israel, that his family has owned for several decades. Clean and to the point, these tiny outposts are simply designed for rush-hour efficiency. The good news: The line moves quickly even during busy lunches.
On the plate: The key word at these restaurants is "fresh" when you order from the simple menu. Fresh bagels, freshly squeezed juice and smoothies are served at the two locations with breakfast hours (North Michigan Avenue and West Madison Street). At each location, you'll find freshly roasted turkey (with the aroma that goes with it) as well as several chicken dishes (sandwiches, kebabs) and a few vegetarian selections (falafel, hummus, etc.).At your service: Counter service is friendly and accommodating.
Take a pass: The falafel sandwich? Well, you'll find better elsewhere. It was fine, but one of our tasters described it as "a little dry ... a little heavy and not as flavorful as I think it could be."
Thirst quenchers: French roast or hazelnut coffee, hot chocolate, tea, milk, fruit smoothies, fresh lemonade, mixed fruit juice, fountain drinks.
Extras: Limited delivery; other locations: Ogilvie Transportation Center (500 W. Madison St.; 312-379-0268) and Garvey Food Court (no breakfast; 201 N. Clark St.; 312-977-1011).
Price range: Baked goods (bagels, muffins, scone, baklava), 88 cents-$1.65; bagel breakfasts, $1.72-$3.95; hot entrees (sandwiches, plates, kebabs) $5.25-$6.25; vegetarian plates, $4.25-$5.75; smoothies, $3.25; beverages, 75 cents-$2.95.
Jaffa Bakery (1 fork)
225 N. Michigan Ave. ( Illinois Center)
Hours: 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
Credit cards: M, V
Noise: Fast-food conversation friendly and bustling
Other: Catering with free delivery
Lunch break I: Enjoy a picnic in Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St.), stop and smell the flowers or participate in one of the upcoming summer activities such as the Family Fun Festival (June 5-Sept. 3), which includes hands-on activities and projects. Check out the schedule at www.millenniumpark.org/parkevents
Lunch break II: Visit the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E Washington St.; 312-744-6630) and listen to live music here while you munch carryout at this comfortable spot during its Lunch Break Series (12:15 p.m. Mon-Fri.). Musical styles changing daily include "Classical Mondays" and "Jazz, Blues and Beyond Tuesdays."
Ratings key: 4 forks, don't miss it; 3 forks, one of the best; 2 forks, very good; 1 fork, good
Reviews are based on anonymous visits by Tribune staff members; meals are paid for by the Tribune.
Simple menu stars at bakery
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