Chicago Dopers: favorite Russian/formerly Soviet/East Bloc restaurants?

Once a month, I host a Russian language dinner…a bunch of foreign policy nuts get together to speak Russian, swap FSU war stories, and chat about life in general. Basically, my job is to pick a restaurant with general appeal and make sure that everyone has a good time.

I’d like to be able to stick to Russian, FSU, or East European places, but part of the problem is that there’s only one in downtown Chicago, and whenever I’ve held a dinner outside of downtown, attendance drops significantly. In the past we’ve branched out into various Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisines (hey, Central Asia is close to China, right?), just because it allows for greater variety, and nobody wants to go to the same place every month.

Recently, folks have been requesting a Polish or Ukrainian place, although maybe Hungarian or something would also be popular. I really don’t know the Polish/Ukrainian places very well (most of my Polish culinary experience has been at friends’ houses, and the Polish friends all say the Polish restaurants are no good because home cooking is the best), so does anyone have recommendations? Yummy is obviously a huge plus, but so are proximity to downtown and/or public transportation, plus a closing time after 8 pm (a cursory search on Metromix showed some awfully early weekday closings).

Just out of curiosity, where did you hold dinners before? I think the only Eastern European place I’ve been to is Little Bucharest (now, it seems, Euro Cafe).

I haven’t been there for years and years, but Little Bucharest used to be one of my favorite restaraunts (3001 N. Ashland). Easy to get to by El (I think), great food, big potions and very reasonably priced:

Well, out of the former Soviet places we’ve been several times to Russian Tea Time on Adams; I like it, but it’s a bit pricey, and the native speakers say not very authentic. We’ve also gone to an Armenian place downtown whose name is escaping me right now…when it pops into my head, I’ll post it.

Then we’ve also gone to Reza’s on Ontario, to Berghoff, to Emilio’s and Cafe Iberico, Pacific Bistro (they had a Russian-speaking Mongolian waitress, so we decided it was close enough)and a bunch of other places.