A fixture in Irving Park since the 1970s, the original Little Bucharest Bistro closed in 2004—but that wasn't the end of the story. Like a pop star making a comeback, the neighborhood eatery reappeared in the mid-2000s with a new look. "I wanted to bring the signature high-energy vibe of old Little Bucharest into a new setting," owner Branko Podrumedic says on the website. To this end, his staff sets out white-clothed tables beneath the dining room's stained-glass windows, as well as hosting diners on a spacious patio during the warmer months.
But the decor wasn't the only part of the restaurant getting a makeover, Podrumedic's revamped menu also earned praise from Metromix for "blending traditional Eastern European ingredients with more modern presentations and a contemporary sensibility." To create these artistically plated entrees, chefs turn to a variety of hearty vegetables and seasoned meats, including veal and seafood. On top of the eats, year-round live entertainment fills the spacious dining room with the sounds of Persian music, guitar solos, and violinists playing the Jaws theme as diners go to take a bite.