The Culinary History of Algerian Pastries + Algerian Food in Chicago

Have you ever planned to spend a theme-filled day out? I seem to do it a lot of this in Chicago since there are so many great neighborhoods to explore. For example, there are some great Swedish places to visit in Andersonville (delis, clothing stores, museum and cafes); the Pilsen neighborhood for some Latin flavor; Greektown for the cafes & sweets; and Devon for a taste of Indian food.

Merguez sandwich at Pomera

Halal Merguez Sandwich at Pomera Grill

Recently, my best foodie friend and I headed out to a program sponsored by the Culinary Historians of Chicago about the history of Algerian pastries- a fascinating topic and one I couldn’t wait to learn more about.

Rachel Finn, founder of Roots Cuisine, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Afrodescendent foodways, gave a talk about her experience with Algerian pastries in France.

She talked a lot about the popularity of interest in the French for Algerian foods and pastries and went on to describe the natural, traditional and common ingredients found in many of them. She talked about things like semolina, almonds, cakes, traditional sweets for Ramadan and ‘Eid and simply the way Algerians eat pastries and how that differs from Americans or even Europeans. It was fascinating and yet there wasn’t nearly enough time to scratch the surface on this topic. To read more about Algerian pastries and Rachel Finn’s work, please visit her website.

Pomera Bakery

After the lecture, my friend and I trekked across town to have a bit to eat at Pomera Bakery, one of the only Algerian places we know of in the city. {There is another one, which I’ll list at the end}

It’s a really small, quiet place with a big menu. I was in the mood for merguez (North African sausage) so I ordered it on a sandwich, which was huge and since we were assured it was halal. And one sandwich to go for my hubby. My friend did the same…

While waiting, we found some interesting Algerian breads that were fresh out of the oven and still nice and soft.

There were a few pastries, too, but it seems as though they sell fast- several people walked in just to order those and left quickly.

They even had smoothies, but I couldn’t imagine having enough room for that plus the huge sandwich and all the pastries Rachel Finn made and gave out as samples.

If you’re in the mood for Algerian food or want to explore just what that is, I would try Pomera Bakery with the expectation that you’ll get simple, hearty food that may take a while to serve, but you’ll be happy you waited around for it, insha’allah.

Pomera Bakery

4304 N Pulaski Rd
(between Cullom Ave & Elston Ave)
Chicago, IL 60641
Neighborhood: Irving Park

(773) 545-6411

Another lovely Algerian restaurant in Chicago is Icosium Kafe. I love the ambience, especially for a dinner for two or to take an out-of-town guest. The chef is from Algeria and is so personal with his customers.  Also, it seems as though just about everything is made from scratch, and the meat is assured halal. If you go, you must have two things: the tagine (any kind) and a sweet crepe dish.  The place is so cozy, you’ll also want to stick around for a coffee or tea…trust me.
Icosium Kafe
5200 N. Clark
Chicago, Illinois
(773) 271-5233
*Update: Sadly, Iosium Kafe is now closed*

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  1. As someone who lived in Algeria years ago, I was really happy to see this. Algeria is the largest country in Africa–10th largest in the world– yet its food and culture are largely unknown in the US. You always do such a good job presenting the various world cuisines. I’m looking forward to seeing more Algerian recipes on this site 🙂

  2. Salaam ,

    I havn’t visited your blog until now, but I found this post via Facebook. I appreciate this feature as I am living in Algeria. Algerian food sometimes get overlooked … more people have heard of Moroccan food, but it’s def not something to overlook. Thanks for featuring my (adopted) country!

    BTW I have a food blog too … with mostly Algerian recipes http://simplicitybythesea.blogspot.com/

    Saha Ftourkoum as they say here (to your health)!

  3. @Clarissa- thanks so much. I do hope to add more North African and specifically Algerian recipes to the site. It’s a process, but with time, insha’allah. If you have any recipes to suggest or contribute, please let me know!

  4. @Henia- thank you so much for stopping by. I love that you are blogging about Algerian foods! If you have anything you’d like to contribute, please be in touch with me. I’m fascinated by this region’s food variety which is so healthy and delicious.

  5. i’m indonesian marry with algerian we live in algeria, specific in jijel province. i don’t so much like pastry cookies algerian style they are big but the inside filling (almond and any kind nuts) similary all the same just the outside they make any decorations. but in all algerian food is good, simple ingredients and cheap

    1. @Raini- how interesting your life must be, and what a beautiful blend of cultures you must have at home masha’allah.

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