Today's journey led me from downtown west on Lake Street in search of a hot mint tea that I came across while researching a story about tea. January is tea month. And I like to drink. So I parked my car, on this darkened, warehouse-lined stretch of Lake Street, at Carpenter. The signs hanging from buildings on the North Side of the street say "no parking" but I figure it's cool. I'll be out of the car jst long enough to find out that the place is either closed or I've got the wrong address.
So imagine my surprise when I found Baba Pita, 1032 W. Lake Street not only open, but the proprietors happy to see me. I told owner Mehdi Aribi that I'd come about the tea that writers were raving about on the blogs. He sat down across from me at my table and explained that the tea was inspired from the drink his mother made him as a boy in Tunisia and the rich, minty tea he enjoyed on visits to another North African country, Morocco.
Without giving away the recipe, Aribi explains that he uses green tea, sugar, fresh mint and rosewater. The drink is served hot or cold, with plenty of mint leaves, and the price is $1.99.
"It's not genius, it's simple," Aribi says with a shrug. But it hits the spot on a cold Friday night.
Aribi, excited that yet another person has discovered his restaurant under the L, shows me around -- even taking me out in to the cold damp night to show me where he grows the mint during the summer: under three small trees that have been carefully planted along the sidewalk.
The menu for this 8-month-old Mediterranean restaurant is extensive, with the highest priced items at $8.99 it's affordable.
The decor is modest but comfortable. Rashid Rosete, a restaurant employee, makes the point that "no matter what time of day it is, it almost seems like it's sunset" because of the cream walls and the yellow in the light fixtures. In many countries, he says, like Spain or North Africa or even England that's the time workers take a break and have tea or a cup of coffee.
Indeed, it was a nice place to take a break as the train rumbled overhead, the place filled up and early evening turned in to late night.
For more tea spots around the city check out:
For a list of other tea spots check out