When in Spain, its a no-brainer that delicious tapas should be eaten for every single meal. But what’s stopping you from experiencing all that tapas goodness from the comfort of your own city? In the spirit of Chicago Restaurant Week, I thought I would take advantage of the low prices to indulge in some fancy food.
After scouring the list of participating restaurants (over 350!) I landed on Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, a true Lincoln Park culinary gem. Whether during restaurant week or any other week, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba should definitely be on your bucket list.
The restaurant week menu offers a limited choice of the cafe’s typical offerings, but the amount of food is well worth the price. For lunch, $22 gets you a soup or salad, two dishes, and a dessert. It helps that all of the food was amazing too.
First up: the salad. Arugula topped with caramelized goat cheese and crunchy pomegranate seeds, this was not your typical iceberg lettuce with cucumbers salad. Fresh and not too filling, it was the perfect precursor for the tapas to come.
#SpoonTip: They do NOT take the wax off prior to caramelizing. To avoid a mouthful of wax, peel off the outer layer of the cheese. I learned that the hard way.
Next came the patatas bravas, a staple item in the world of Spanish tapas. The spicy fried potatoes and sun-dried tomato aioli made for a stellar combo. Kind of like the Spanish version of homefries, but 1,000 times better.
Oh, and did I mention they serve sangria? The cold Chicago wind might be blowing outside, but the sangria is enough to get you feeling like you’re on a warm Spanish beach. Ba-Ba-Reeba’s got a collection of flavors, from the classic red and white to black raspberry and white peach. Topped with fresh fruit and served by the glass or by the pitcher, there’s something for everyone.
In the true Spanish style, these gambas al ajillo were savory with just the right spicy kick from the red pepper flakes. Typically I’m not a huge fan of garlic, but the garlic butter covering these shrimp was flavorful without being too strong. If you’re a seafood lover, these are the shrimp for you.
And lastly, the dessert: a chocolate truffle cake. To be honest I’m pretty sure this was the most amazing chocolate cake I have ever eaten in my life. It was a melt-in-your-mouth creamy kind of fudge cake. I think it was actually more fudge than cake, which only makes it better. My only regret is that I didn’t order a second piece.
Overall, A+ for Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. If nothing else, just go for the cake and it’ll still be worth it. If you do, bring me a piece.