I’m a big booster of my Albany Park neighborhood’s eating scene. I’ve said before that the area surrounding Kedzie, Montrose, and Lawrence has one of the thickest concentrations of great restaurants and groceries in the city, particularly strong in various regional middle eastern cuisines. So I’m ashamed to admit that until last night I’d never been to Al-Khaymeih. Sure, I’ve shopped in the neighboring grocery and bakery, but I guess when it comes to sit-down middle eastern chow I’d become complacent, always opting for City Noor or the great but shabby Salam.

Others have said plenty about Al-Khaymeih, from the juicy shawerma to the exemplary cornish hen. I’ll add that the mezzes my party of 14 shared were outstanding–tabouleh, fatoush, hummous, baba ganoush, and falafel–all extremely fresh and vibrant, delivered by the sole manager/server/busser whose handling of our increasingly rambunctious group was simply heroic. 

That’s another point in Al-Khaymeih’s favor–unlike my other favorites on the street, you can bring in booze.