Atmosphere: Bright, spotless carryout with booths. Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Price range: Inexpensive. The highest price on the menu is $3.25 for lasagna. Reservations: Not necessary. Credit cards: None. Special facilities: Plenty of parking next door to the restaurant. Accessible to the handicapped.
Restaurants have their surprises. From the outside, you'd have no reason to think there's anything the least bit different about Hobo's. It's just a big rectangular concrete building, with a parking lot alongside.
Inside, there's a big carryout counter, a dozen or so vinyl booths, orange-striped vinyl wallpaper, both real and plastic plants and lots of overhead lighting that shows the place is spotless. A couple of pinball machines and a juke box are lined up at the front.
The only give-away are a few handwritten signs on the counter: They read aushak, bolani, quabili. That's your clue that Hobo's is the latest example of East meets West in the suburbs: a genuine Afghan-American-Greek Restaurant.
There's plenty of American food at Hobo's, and it's simple and pleasing enough, though not special. What is really special is bolani, a crisp fried Afghan-style turnover of very thin dough stuffed with chopped scallions and mild spices, served with a mild yogurt dip on the side. A good appetizer to share, and one that pleased our whole family at a price of $1.85.
Also special: aushak, slightly more exotic, perhaps mainly for grown-ups. These are a sort of Afghan-style ravioli -- large flat noodles stuffed again with that mild scallion and spice combination, topped with a pleasing cinnamon scented tomato-meat-yogurt sauce. A delicious combination, again at $1.85.
Quabili is something else entirely. This is a large mound of saffron-scented rice with chunks of meat, garnished with raisins and carrot silvers that give it a sweetish flavor. Accompanied by a side dish of chunks of peeled eggplant in tomato sauce, and a yogurt-topped salad, this is a full meal for $4.75, though perhaps not to everyone's taste.
Hobo's serves neither beer nor wine, which would have complemented these dishes as well as the Greek specialties.
Among the Greek dishes that we tried was spinach pie. Lots of layers of flaky filo dough and butter were covered with a mildly seasoned spinach and cheese filling. Served with a small Greek salad dressed, the spinach pie was an excellent buy at $2.85.
Then there's souvlaki, a large sandwich of cubed meat and vegetables with yogurt sauce served on pita bread. And there are gyro sandwiches, made of lamb slivers and vegetables and also served on pita bread. Both sandwiches are generous in size and cost about $2.15 each.
Hobo's serves a big Greek salad, with lettuce, anchovies, olives, feta cheese and good-quality plum tomatoes, for $2.85.
Meanwhile, the children can enjoy Hobo's "New York style pizza." It's the thin-crusted variety with a rather sweet tomato sauce. Or they can order the fried chicken platter or the fried shrimp, subs or hamburgers, all of which look fine at incredibly low prices, from $1.85 to $2.95.
For dessert, everyone will enjoy elephant's ears: Large rounds of very thin, crisply fried dough (each about 15 inches across) topped with sugar.
My favorite dessert was the baklava filled with nuts and thickly covered with honey. The layers of fillo dough were crisp and fresh, the nutmeats tightly wedged together and crunchy. The price: an astonishing 80 cents a portion.
Prices are so low at Hobo's that a bill of more than $20 for four would be astonishing.