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Sep 4, 2002 02:54 PM

Cafeteria Marianao - NW side Chicago

  • s

Just had lunch w/a client at the Cafeteria Marianao, located at 2246 N. Milwaukee in Chicago, phone: 773.278.4533

Cafeteria Marianao is a stand up/take out small shop on Chicago's near NW side. Client had a Cuban sandwich. He was nice enough to give me a bite. I've had many Cuban sandwiches; Cafeteria Marianao's is a good Cuban sandwich, not great.

Now the sandwich I had on the other hand was really good. It was the bistec con queso or steak sandwich w/cheese. The thin sliced steak pieces are boiled in a slightly vinegary pot on the stove until done. Then the steak is put on Cuban bread w/tomatoes, stewed onions and cheese. The whole sandwich is then grilled crispy, YUM! YUM!

I think my client wanted me to share more of my sandwich. Oh well, at only $2.75 for the Steak sandwich w/cheese and $2.50 for the Cuban sandwich, it is cheap to get your own.

Also served are lots and lots of cafe cubano con leche, the little cups of powerful coffee that you see people in Miami stopping by food stands for.

I believe I saw the hours as 7am-7pm daily.

The steak sandwich is well worth the trip to try.

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  1. v
    Vital Information

    I like this place too, for the steak sandwich, but I really envy you for having a client that let's you take him or her to such a place. Lucky!

    (on the other hand, if I was somebody's big account, I'd love for them to take me there too)

    7 Replies
    1. re: Vital Information
      Sweet Willie

      "I really envy you for having a client that let's you
      take him or her to such a place. Lucky!"


      Most clients I take to meals have heard me talk (many many times) about not doing the usual lunch/dinner (some are probably very tired of it! :) ), so it is pretty easy to talk most clients into trying out something that is not the typical foodservice establishment.

      PS: Is that a vinegar type broth they cook the pieces of steak in?

      1. re: Sweet Willie
        Vital Information

        Good question as to what the steaks are cooked in. Somehow, and I do not know why, it reminded me of, god what is that stuff. You know it's nearly black in color, comes in a little glass bottle with a yellow top. Like mega-mall priced demi-glace. It's either that or scala's italian beef gravy.

        I fully expect RST to soon give the exact recipe, including street in Havana populated by the extended Mariano family who cooked the first steak sandwich in Cuba*

        *No offense!!! or winky face or whatever.


        1. re: Vital Information

          LOL. I'll get you for this someday ;). You watch out!

          1. re: RST
            Vital Information

            What, are you going to switch my picadillo for sesos at el coloniel?

            I'm going to have to pay MUCH more attention to that empandada system!

            1. re: Vital Information

              Ok, no geeking out now ;). All this is really food-geek nitpicking: it's like saying at a four-star restaurant that the dish is ruined bec the expediter got to it 2 SECONDS LATE (eek!). Don't stress out the ladies, now ;).

              Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever had that picadillo there.


          2. re: Vital Information

            The brown stuff is probably Gravy Master or another brand of browning sauce. Browning sauce is used extensively in certain Carribean cooking (Jaimaican esp. brown stew and jerks), Cuban less so. Used like anato (brand name us. Bijol) to create an "appealing" color (the heavy use of anato as a substitute for safron results in the day-glow orange arroz con pollo of Cuban cafeterias). Browning sauce's use on Cuban "minute steaks" would not be surprising since it is tough to get a good dark color when quickly pan-frying a thin palomilla steak. This stuff does not add much if any flavor. The main ingredients are carmel color and vegitable extract, which might lend some "beefy" flavor. I suspect and hope that the astringent flavor of the sandwich comes from onions marinated in mojo de ajo, which in its purest form should be made with the juice of naranjas agrias (bitter oranges, i.e., Sevillas) rather than lemon or vinegar.

          3. re: Sweet Willie

            Sweet Willie wrote:
            “PS: Is that a vinegar type broth they cook the pieces of steak in?”

            I’m fairly certain that the two blackened kettles that Cafeteria Marianao cooks the meat for steak sandwiches in contain oil. Not only does the taste lead me to believe that the meat is fried in oil, but, if the meat were boiled in vinegar, the smell of vinegar would be the first thing noticed as you walked in the door.

            I agree, excellent steak sandwiches, but my favorite is the Cuban sandwich.

            I wrote a Chowhound review of Cafeteria Marianao back in May, I will provide a link if you are inclined to take a look.


            Cafeteria Marianao
            2246 N. Milwaukee Ave.
            Chicago, IL 60647
            M-Sat 7-7
            Sunday 7-6
            Parking lot.