Ragadan in Uptown calls itself an “American falafel shoppe,” which not only reflects an affinity for old-timey spelling, but perfectly describes its Jordanian-influenced food. The owner’s heritage and experience growing up around his parents' diner in Oklahoma collide at the small counter-service restaurant. And at the center of this spot's culinary Venn diagram lies an impressive spread of fusion-y burgers, sandwiches, and, yes, falafel. It all comes out fast and hovers around $8, making Ragadan one of the best places in the city for an affordable, casual meal.
photo credit: Kim Kovacik
Everything on the menu is well-made and balanced. The juicy burgers are topped with tangy za’atar mayo and sweet caramelized onions that complement their smoky char. Crispy-yet-pillowy falafel pulls off a balancing act that's worthy of Cirque Du Soleil. And that falafel makes for one of the best sandwiches in Chicago when it's tucked between pieces of soft ka’ak with tahini and hummus. The ka’ak bread is also the perfect vehicle for their egg salad, which is mixed with tart yogurt and spicy chili sauce.
An open kitchen takes up most of the space, so there’s only a handful of window seats and tables. But since most customers take their orders to go, seating is almost always guaranteed. Take advantage of this. Ragadan’s burgers and sandwiches deserve to be eaten immediately, and are worth sitting down for.
We alternate between getting a single or double Dan Burger depending on how hungry we are, or if we’re ordering half of the menu in the name of “research.” But one less patty doesn’t change how good this burger is. The patties are smoky and charred, and the meat is complemented by mustard, za’atar mayo, raw onions, and a fluffy bun.
The falafel is made with spices like cumin, coriander, and cinnamon, and has so much flavor, we could eat it plain. That being said, we appreciate the sandwich, where the crispy chickpea balls are paired with soft ka'ak bread, hummus, tahini, and parsley sauce.
Stuffed Falafel Sandwich
We prefer the ka’ak bread over the pita, but this is still our favorite falafel sandwich. Why is that you ask? Well curious reader, it’s because Ragadan stuffs these falafel with sumac-spiced caramelized onions, like a much better (and not illegal) version of a Wonder Ball.
Labneh Egg Salad Sandwich
Many egg salad sandwiches are too chalky, and can taste like sulfur. But the egg salad sandwich at Ragadan is one of the best things on the menu. The hard boiled eggs are balanced by the airy ka’ak bread, tart labneh, and a chili sauce (ask for some extra on the side).
Grilled Chicken Sandwich
The chicken breast is juicy, and has a deep flavor from marinating in labneh and spices. The sandwich is brightened up by fresh parsley, hummus, tahini, and vegetables.
The baklava here is a perfect balance of nutty sweetness folded into layers of phyllo dough. But the baklava made with apple compote is particularly great because it has an extra layer of fruit, plus some spice from cinnamon.
Oklahoma Onion Burger
This is our favorite burger here. It’s (allegedly) only available for a limited time, so we’re including it as a ploy to earn it a permanent spot on the menu. The patty is thicker than the Dan Burger, and accessorized with layers of sweet caramelized onions, American cheese, and za’atar mayo. The fluffy sesame seed bun soaks up all the juices, which is useful in case you left your Tide To Go at home.