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Fiya - Chicago

Fiya, a 2020 addition to Chicago’s dining scene, brings together the cuisine of the Arab world, North Africa, and Israel into one melting pot of deliciousness.

With a glowing hearth in the center of the sleek, modernist space, Fiya turns out fresh-baked pita and other oven-fresh items that are both healthy and wonderfully scrumptious.

The evolving Fiya menu reflects the diverse, delicious, and centuries old cuisine of the Levant.

Starters include many Middle Eastern/North African favorites like hummus and Moroccan carrots, as well as pickled vegetables (definitely get this!) and matbucha, a dish from the Magreb made of roasted peppers, tomatoes, chilies and garlic, guaranteed to get your appetite going. There’s enough deliciousness right at the beginning of the menu that you might be tempted to just stop there. But you shouldn’t! There are lots more interesting foods to explore.

Hummus and shakshuka, as well as other perhaps less traditional dishes like watermelon pickle and Moroccan Cigars (sweet potatoes, duck confit or tilapia), are listed on the plates section of the menu. In the sandwiches section, there’s Sabich (eggplant, egg, tahina, salad, pickle, and amba, which is a tart mango pickle from Iraq) and in a further fusion of cuisines of different cultures, Za’Atar Chicken Schnitzel (tahina, salad, pickle, and amba).

For dessert, there’s Malabi, an Israeli pudding (pineapple, mint and olive oil) and Knafeh, (pistachio and custard), but if you haven’t had anything from the signature hearth yet, definitely go for the Wood-Oven Tart.

With all this incredibly flavorful and healthful food, you should really balance it out with a cocktail or two, and Fiya has a large list of mixed drinks, including Berry Arak Punch (arak – an anise liquor popular throughout the Middle east -- lemon, rum, berry puree, mint liqueur, and soda), Zhug Martini (gin, zhug – a Yemini hot sauce – water, dry vermouth, lemon, and aquavit) and a Mango Mezcal Margarita (mango turmeric syrup, mezcal, lime, jalapeno, turmeric, and salt), because who doesn’t love margaritas (?). There is also a very large selection of bourbon and other spirits, and a wine list of the increasingly popular “natural wines” which are frequently biodynamic, using native yeasts, and hand harvested grapes, with no filtering of additives, all in generous five-ounce pours.

Eating at Fiya is a good time.