cafe babareeba or Cafe Iberico
which one has better food, and is more fun??
I've had very limited experience with Cafe Babareeba, but I've always had the feeling that Cafe Iberico has a more authentic Spanish feel, and that includes great food and having to wait an hour-plus for a table.
Iberico, I think, is better. They don't take reservations, and you'll wait long enough to be stumbling from too much Sangria by the time you sit down, but I think it's a bit better, and, as Darren says, a tad more authentic.
I feel that while Cafe Iberico has a more authentic feel (hence the steady stream of Spaniards), the ingredients at Cafe Babareeba are higher quality. Iberico tastes and feels like an average but not great Spanish Tapas restaurant that one might visit in the touristy areas in Spain. I've been dissapointed at Cafe Iberico on more than one occasion. The food in general is more refined at Cafe Babareeba and even more at Emilio's Hillside. Personally, I like Emilio's Hillside of all the tapas restaurants around. The food is fresh and of high quality. Is Emilio's Tapas 100% true to it's Spanish Roots? Not sure, it's been a few years since my last visit to Spain. Either way, I'll take Emilio's Tapas over Cafe Iberico's.
I like Cafe Iberico, and it is the tapas bar the Spaniards I know prefer. The bar and the south dining room can be so loud conversation is difficult. I try for the north room; a Spanish friend says the basement room is the best. The deli in the northeast corner, up a few stairs, is worth checking out. Finally, don't ignore the Galician white bean soup, the salads, and the entrees. I like 'em better than most of the tapas.
Between the two, Iberico is better for Tapas. Like many of these other replies, I feel the food is more authentic at Iberico.
One of my Spaniard friends introduced me to Tapas by taking me to Iberico 8 years ago and I feel in love with the delicious dishes and continued to go to Iberico ever since. I noticed after the last 2-3 times I was there that the food wasn't as good as it was when I first started going there; my Spanish friend did as well. I don't know if during that time there was a change in the kitchen staff or perhaps we just happened to be there on an "off-night" those 2-3 times.
If you're open to other Tapas suggestions, my Spanish friend and I tried 1492 Tapas (on Superior and Wabash) and really liked it. Their dishes tasted lighter than some of the Tapas dishes I've had elsewhere. We sat out front and sipped on our tasty Mango Sangria while dining on delicious Tapas.
Although we have loved Cafe Iberico when we've eaten there, the crowds are just too much for us. I think BaBaReeba has great food (their paella with langoustines was delicious), and a fun, festive atmosphere, as opposed to the mosh pit feel of Iberico. Rioja, on north Clark Street (in the old Atlantique space) is probably our favorite in terms of quality, but it's a more sedate, "white-tablecloth" type of place.
I concur. While Iberico edges out BBR slightly in terms of food, its not so much that it edges out ability to make a reservation and the less frenzied pace (but don't misunderstand, its still very fun and festive at BBR). You just have room to breathe at BBR. I also find that BBR's garden is lovely this time of year (unless its blazing hot) and can even be covered in the event of a rainshower.