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Jun 25, 2009 05:37 AM

Any good TAPAS in Chicago?

We're staying at the Millennium Knickerbocker for 4 nights and are interested in having tapas one evening. (Don't mind a cab ride to get the best food). Any suggestions? Thanks.

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  1. this gets asked every few months:

    My vote is for Cafe Baba Reeba, but I haven't been since moving in 2004 (the Las Vegas version was good, but the original in Chicago better)

    1. Mercat a la Planxa is rather new in the recently referbished Blackstone Hotel on South Michigan Avenue. The food is superb, the drinks excellent, good service and fun atmosphere. Highly recommended. Head and shoulders above the rest.

      Cafe Iberico is an old favorite; inexpensive, less creative, as is Baba Reeba mentioned here.and Emilios. There's also Barcelona in Evanston.

      check out the other links listed above.

      Mercat a la Planxa
      638 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605

      6 Replies
      1. re: chicgail

        mercat a la planxa has smarter service and decor than other tapas restaurants in chicago. the presentation is also more refined. the cava we got was also quite good. but i still think that it's overpriced. although armed with all the good things i mentioned, the cooking and the actual food, while good, do not rise to level of "fine dining" and do not adequately justify the inflated price, which kind of defeats the purpose of eating tapas anyway.

        1. re: mountsac

          I agree, except for the "smarter service". Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we dined on a Tuesday night (last July, not busy) vs. a more popular night but our server was unable to enlighten us as to what was special about the Jamon Iberico vs. the Jamon Serrano. I knew enough that it had been illegal to import until recently, but not much more. Our server said he'll find out but never did. That's all the excuse DH needed to whip out it his then new iphone to give me a little culinary lesson :)

        2. re: chicgail

          i'm curious ... how much does a tapas meal run for two people (on average) @ mercat?

          1. re: lilaki

            I can't say on average, but the last time i was there with DH, our bill was about $120 with alcohol and tip. It really depends on what you get. Their more traditional tapas are between $5-$15. The flatbreads (which i always get) are between $11-$15. The larger plates are between mid-high teens. The a la planxa menu is a whole different ballgame. If i remember right, the full order of Colorado lamb chop is $40+. That's 4 perfectly charred, tender juicy chops.

            1. re: lilaki

              it was around $100 dollar for the two of us, including tax and service. but we only had one glass of cava each, and we didn't have enough food to eat. the paella was especially tiny. i don't remember all the details from that meal, but the unusually small portions did make an impression.

              i think cafe iberico is good. but i personally like "people" in wicker park better. the place looks humble, but the food and sangrila are quite solid there. i especially like the blue-cheese potato dish.

              i also think that avec could be a tapas restaurant, depending on the way you order. they have the best bacon-wrapped dates in town.

              1. re: lilaki

                tks for the info re: prices ... i think we'll save that $$ for when we're actually in spain this fall! :)

            2. I second chicgail on Mercat. It is my top choice for tapas these days.

              For old standbys, Cafe Iberico is best. If you want more peace and quiet, 1492 is my alternative to Iberico.

              There is a new crop of tapas places. Tapas Valencia is good (they are owned by Meson Sabika in Naperville). Eivissa and Pintxos i haven't been, but have read mixed writeups.

              1492 Tapas Bar
              42 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611

              Tapas Valencia
              1530 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605

              1 Reply
              1. re: ms. chow

                Cafe Valencia in the South Loop is great. Pricing is similar to Cafe Iberico, but the decor & menus are much more updated and the service is great. I didn't think Mercat was all that wonderful--too expensive for tapas....

              2. FYI Mercat is closed until at least mid-July. Something about slippery floors.

                1. Cafe Baba Reeba is definitely good. Mercat a la Planxa is about the same. Both are expensive for Tapas... Cafe Iberico is dirt cheap. But surprisingly good food if you don't care much about the dining atmosphere.