Cafe 28 Review
- Joe Penkrot
Four of us visited Cafe 28 on Friday night and overall were very pleased.
For starters, we shared the coconut shrimp appetizer - 5 medium to large (not super-sized) sauteed shrimp, faintly redolent of coconut, surrounding a mound of sweet coconut rice. We also had the spinach quesadilla appetizer, very tasty, generously filled and a nice portion. Thumbs up to this one.
Donna had the pasilla chicken breast with jalapeno mashed potatoes. This was very flavorful with a nice amount of zing to the pasilla sauce. Brian laced into the ropa vieja, a baseball sized mound of shredded beef. The red sauce was more tepid than say at La Luna's on Peterson. The ropa was accompanied by excellent beans and rice. Overall, he was pleased and he is a serious carnivore. Peggy enjoyed a nut crusted halibut, served with the same jalapeno spuds that accompanied the chicken. The halibut, her favorite, was really nicely done. I had the jalapeno honey pork chops - 2 massive (1 inch thick anyhow) chops glazed with a very agreeable coating that is perhaps more honey than heat. The chops are paired with excellent slices of roasted sweet potatoes. This entree is really wonderful, if slightly on the sweet side.
For dessert, we split a homemade pound cake with fresh berries, a chocolate flan, and the tres leches cake (made with 3 milks, I believe is the translation. Although perhaps not skim, 1% and 2% as we joked.) The pound cake was especially nice.
One bottle of lackluster cabernet @$25, one soft drink for the boy carnivore, a double espresso and one coffee brought the bill to $121. The wine list is pretty schizophrenic. There's a fair number of wines in the mid $20's, but the cheapest Merlot is $37.
The restaurant occupies a double storefront just west of the viaduct at 1800 W. Irving Park. We arrived just before 7 on Friday and were seated at once - they don't take reservations for small groups like ours. By the time we left, around 8:30, the place was mobbed. Fortunately, we opted not to sit in the bar area. This is where people have to wait for their tables. It was a tremendous crush in there and could not have been all that pleasant trying to be comfortable in that room. Even though we were seated in the adjoining room, the noise level was astounding. We really had to speak loudly across a real small table to be heard.
In total, good food, nice portions, fair prices, but really noisy during the busy times.
I have to agree completely with joe's review. We've found this place amazingly noisy (if its warm there's the option outside next to the tracks which is actually quieter) and the food had been pretty good but not amazing and for some reason the fish always had been our favorite dish.
Hey Joe what are your feelings about Rancho Luna--How are their steak sandwiches and medianoche?
I've only had a couple of meals at Rancho Luna at the Peterson location (and a few more at their old North Park location on Foster). I especially enjoyed the ropa vieja, smoked pork loin, and their Cuban chicken, which is outstanding. I'm in a rut there and need to try more of their menu.
The move to Peterson Avenue gave them room for parking and to set up a small bandstand for weekend music. It's a little more upscale now, but feels authentically more Cuban than Cafe 28, probably because it attracts more Cubans. Good place. Go there and let me know how those other dishes are.
I have to chime in and add that their brunch is quite nice, also - especially the banana-stuffed french toast.