Restaurant skewers food for lighter, fun meals

Our Hungry Hound says there's a new place focusing on Hawaiian-inspired grilled food, conveniently located just off the Blue Line.

In hot climates, like Thailand and Malaysia, you see a lot of grilled items served on skewers. They serve two purposes: one, they offer a lighter meal and two, they make every meal easily transportable.

The same could be said for a new concept called "Skewerz," which takes its primary inspiration from Hawaii and the Pacific.

Typically, you see skewers on the appetizer section of a menu, offered as small tastes before a meal. But at Skewerz, at the nexus of Bucktown and Wicker Park - beneath the Damen Blue Line stop - the sticks are pretty much it.

"It's basically a healthy alternative to fast food, but we thought, 'Why not put it on a stick and make it fun?" said Michael Haren, Skewerz.

There are a few items that don't get skewered, such as giant artichokes, which are grilled, then served with a lemon aioli dipping sauce, but most items are stick-worthy: five spice grilled filets of beef, ahi tuna from Hawaii, a chili-rubbed chicken, and perfectly plump shrimp marinated in coconut and cilantro.

Even edamame is skewered. They blend it with spices and roll it in Japanese breadcrumbs before briefly deep-frying it.

"It makes it easier for food on-the-go, so you don't have to have all these utensils an everything," said Haren. "You can come in and grab your food real quick-- it's on a stick-boom. Eat it. Throw it away."

All of the sauces are homemade, and they make excellent dipping opportunities, from red curry peanut sauce and coconut sambal, to fresh mango chili. Other side options include fried rice, and the smoothies are all made with 100 percent fruit.

"People have been very receptive, so we've got a lot of repeat clients," said Haren. "We've only been open a few weeks and everybody's talking great things."

Skewerz also delivers, and they're planning on opening a healthy juice bar right next door in the coming months.

Visit the restaurant's Web site at

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