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Best Tapas in the City?

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  • ljero Feb 12, 2007 02:45 PM
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I have lived in Chicago for many years and still cannot find a good tapas restuarant. Anyone have any they love? I have had terrible meals at Twist. I think Archo de Cucherillos is just ok....also not a fan of Cafe BaBar Reeba or the one on Clark (whos name I am forgetting at this moment)....any thoughts?

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  1. See this topic for a discussion comparing Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba and Emilio's (and a few comments about other places like Cafe Iberico):
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/366524

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy

      seen the rw b/w Cafe and Emilio's....thanks, but did not help much as I do not like either...or Iberico...hoping that I am missing something and there is a good one out there?

    2. My favorite Tapas is at Barcelona Tapas in Evanston. I like their food better than any of the places I've tried downtown (including BaBa Reeba, Iberico, and others). Also, their carmelized banana dessert is the best I've had, hands down.

      7 Replies
      1. re: SuzMiCo

        I don't mean to be picky, but just in case you are trying to look up information on the tapas restaurant in Evanston, its name is actually Tapas Barcelona (website www.tapasbarcelona.com ). Again, not trying to be picky... ;)

        1. re: nsxtasy

          nsxtasy, this Q is directed to you since I have reviewed may of your posts and you seem to know so much about restaurants here. I have lived here for the past 12 years...a foodie...and surprisingly bored and underwhelmed with the restaurants here. any new places you love or local in the know places you think still have great food, cozy/warm atmopsheres...are not $$$$ ($$$ is ok), etc? I tend to go to butterfly a lot, as it is reasonable and the people are great. I had horrible meals recently at Le Lan, Terragusto and Vivere. VERY disappointing....love all food and will drive anywhere in Chicago... I also love 160 Blue, by the way..down the street from me and jsut sublime, really...

          1. re: ljero

            Thanks for the kind words!

            I can only guess, but I would imagine that most of us don't eat at splurge type restaurants every time we dine out; I know I sure don't. I love a lot of different kinds of food, and many of them are not that expensive, particularly Thai, Mexican, and pizza. I can't say that I'm bored or underwhelmed, though; there are too many places I like (and some I love), and too many places I've never tried.

            Anyway, to answer your question - I love great food, and even though I like some of the top places, I would much rather go to a place where I don't have to dress up in formal business attire. That's part of why I love One Sixty Blue - great food (where every dish is "to die for"), casual atmosphere. I feel the same way about two other places - Oceanique, in Evanston ( www.oceanique.com ) - great food, casual atmosphere (they specialize in seafood, and even things like soups, sauces, and salads are heavenly) and Michael, in Winnetka (see my report in the topic at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/119164 ). But those are both upscale places, priced similarly to One Sixty Blue, although occasionally I will take advantage of website coupons, midweek or prix fixe specials, deals on restaurant.com etc. Another place I really enjoy that's a bit lower in price is the Black Ram, a steakhouse in Des Plaines ( www.blackramsteakhouse.com ); everything I've had there has been wonderful, including the best prime rib in town, great steaks, the freshest seafood, great desserts, everything. The food is fairly conventional steakhouse fare but the execution is flawless, and the staff make you feel at home - cozy/warm indeed. Two more in the "not quite as expensive" category - I enjoy the fresh seafood at Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview ( www.mitchellsfishmarket.com ), and also at Lupita's, a small Mexican restaurant in Evanston ( www.lupitasmexicanrestaurant.com ) whose daily specials are consistently excellent (where you can get a piece of fresh fish grilled perfectly, served with a Mexican sauce and accompaniments). So these are many of the places I've enjoyed the most, the ones I keep returning to, in between visits to new places I'm trying for the first time.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Thanks so much for the info--how about places downtown? We, too, are looking for places that are low key, cozy, with great food not outrageously expensive and it is hard. also love trying out BYO places, but I have to say that neither place we went to recently, cocina mestiza (pilsen) and terragusto (roscoe village) were average at best. Have you been to Kaze for sushi, by the way? It has inventive sushi where the chef marries unusual ingredients--go sit at the bar one day and tell Kaze to keep it coming until you cry uncle!

              1. re: ljero

                Places I've enjoyed downtown include Adobo Grill (Mexican), Red Light (pan Asian), and Shaw's Crab House (seafood), none of which is as expensive as many other places. I'm not a sushi eater, sorry.

              2. re: nsxtasy

                Hey nsxtasy - Just want to add my admiration for your "doggedness" regarding Chicago chow.

                I don't always agree with you. But there's no question your heart's in it.

                1. re: bryan

                  Ditto, and thanks for taking on so many of those "Gee-I'll-be-coming-to- Chicago-soon-Anyplace-good-to-eat-around-there?" queries and the like.

        2. My favorite tapas are at People Lounge in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area. The menu isn't super expansive, but I really enjoy the food and they also have a decent wine list (I think, I don't drink, but my friends do and they are always pleased). Also, reservations are a great idea, as the space isn't huge and tends to fill up quickly.

          http://www.peoplechicago.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: enchantedbedlam

            I probably had one of the worst meals of my life at People Lounge. I can recognize "simple" plates, but People's was just bland and uninteresting. All I wanted to do was go home.

            I've read some reviews of People and they agree.

          2. 1492! Most authentic, if you've ever spent any period of time in Spain...

            http://www.1492tapasbar.com/

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chicago Michele

              I love 1492, delicious and friendly and affordable!

            2. Angelo's Taverna recently opened in Oldtown on Sedgwick where Cucina Bella used to be. They do Spanish, Greek and Italian small plates plus a few entrees each day and have a decent selection of wines.

              1. If you're willing to travel down to the SW side, try Haro for tapas at 2436 S. Oakley. It's a tiny place, so call for reservations. We went early on a Friday night and it was empty until the more acceptable Spanish dining hour of 8:30. By 9 the place was overflowing and the flamenco dancer/singer and guitarist had started their performance. The food and sangria were great--by the end of the evening we felt like we had been on a mini-vacation to Europe!

                1. Try Bravo - on Division, just west of Damen. Great sangria, they run really good specials menus (in season, etc), there is a blue cheese on the cheese list that is phenomenal (served with papaya paste and sweet bread). Their patats bravas are a little on the spicy side, they have a trendy atmosphere, HUGE outside patio, and service is great.