Most pop-up operators talk about one day getting bricks and mortar of their own. Not Ruba Hassan, who’s perfectly content running Yamma in the kitchen of Pint, a Wicker Park pub with a British phone box out front and a deep-seated spirit of Chicago grunge inside. “I like that it’s in the pub — just like in England, where they have Indian food in pubs,” she says. “I’d like to stay here as long as I can.”
Hassan serves the Palestinian cooking of her Chicago family’s heritage, which is familiar from other Levantine cultures but specific in its seasoning and presentation. A lamb meshwi wrap ($17) holds fall-apart chunks of braised meat with khyar bi laban (cucumber yogurt), sharp turnip pickles, tahini, and veg in a thin shrak flatbread. I’m also smitten with the green, crunchy lentil fritters. You can order these fritters and their accompaniments in a bowl ($13) bedded with maftoul (pearl couscous). I don’t imagine there’s a better vegetarian meal at that price in Wicker Park.
The small plates are intended as bar munchies, so order a pint and some fried shish bites ($10) — chicken nuggets in a feathery chickpea batter — along with a bowlful of fried chickpeas ($5). Pub grub just got a lot more interesting.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Yamma is now located inside Bourbon on Division. The address and hours have been updated to reflect this change.