Hola, mis amigos! Do you have an affinity or a deep-seated love for a particular country, its culture, and food? I have! Spain has been in my soul, if not my bloodline, since as far back as I can remember. Growing up in New York City, I was surrounded by a large population of Spanish-speaking people from various Latin countries including Spain. I took quickly to the Spanish language throughout middle school, high school, and college. I have an obsessive love of olive oil and Mediterranean food. All that said, below is my round-up of 7 Awesome Spanish Restaurants to Try in Chicago. Check them out!
This West Loop spot is not only one of the 7 Awesome Spanish Restaurants in Chicago; it is one of my favorite restaurants in The Windy City. I love Salero’s sleek and sexy design and Mediterranean vibe. There is a lovely wine list, and the desserts are a must-do. I recommend the flan and the churros. I tend to gravitate toward the seafood specials, but the meat dishes are excellent. Awarding-winning chef, Ashlee Aubin is always keeping things fresh here.
Salero is a great place to enjoy some top-notch Spanish cuisine in a grown-up setting.
621 W. Randolph St. – One block south and two blocks west of the Clinton ‘L’ stop.
If you are in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood and you are wondering where to eat, Tapas Valencia is always my first answer. I am never disappointed when I dine at this bright, colorful and festive spot. There are tasty Happy Hour specials at the bar during the week; Flamenco dancing shows on Saturday nights and a lovely brunch on weekends.
I love both the hot and cold tapas, especially the sauteed shrimp dish with garlicky spinach. The pork loin options are pretty solid, too.
The staff at Tapas Valencia always greets me with a warm welcome, and they are a much-appreciated addition to the South Loop which needs more great restaurants.
If you have plans at Grant Park, Museum Campus, Soldier Field or Northerly Island, I suggest you make room for some great tapas at this awesome Spanish restaurant.
1530 S. State St. – Three blocks south of the Roosevelt ‘L’ stop on the CTA Red, Green or Orange Lines. The #29 State and #62 Archer buses stop here, too.
It is a rare feat for a restaurant to stay in business for more than ten years, but Cafe Iberico has been serving Spanish food in Chicago since 1992!
Cafe Iberico is a great place to come if you are new to tapas or Spanish cuisine because they offer dishes from across Spain. Whenever I pass by Cafe Iberico in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, it is always bustling.
737 N. LaSalle Dr. – Two blocks east of the Chicago ‘L’ stop on the CTA Brown Line.
The Purple Pig
Chef Jimmy Bannos, Jr. won the James Beard Foundation award for Rising Star, and it was a well-deserved honor. Since this sexy wine bar with a killer menu opened on Michigan Avenue a few years ago, it remains one of the hottest seats in Chicago.
Although Chef Bannos, Jr. creates his menu with nods to Spain, as well as Italy and Greece, it makes my list of 7 Awesome Spanish Restaurants in Chicago. The intimate seating at The Purple Pig intentionally lends itself to ogling the dishes that your neighbors order. Very sneaky and very genius!
My absolute favorite dish which remains on the rotating menu at The Purple Pig is the calamari, fregola, radish and mint salad. I always order it and so should you.
You can slurp down some bone marrow, nibble on the house-made charcuterie boards, and face plant into the fall-off-the-bone pork shoulder. However, do not miss dessert at The Purple Pig because they are very creative.
Since The Purple Pig is a wine bar, they take great pains to make sure it is well curated and stocked. The beer choices are great, too. There is a full bar.
Pro Tips: The Purple Pig is open late night and it does NOT take reservations. In order to avoid crowds, I suggest you head there at the top or close of lunchtime or for a late night meal.
500 N. Michigan Avenue – Two blocks east of the Grand ‘L’ stop on the CTA Red Line. The #3 King Drive bus stops here.
The husband and wife team behind this adorable corner spot in Chicago’s West Loop hit the perfect balance with a lovely, curated wine list, paella and more.
If you are looking for a quiet evening location for a sexy date or just some quiet conversation with friends and family, Vera is for you! It’s absolute gold in the brutal Chicago weather because it’s underneath the ‘L’ tracks.
1023 W. Lake St. – One block west of the Morgan ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Green and Pink Lines.
Mercat a la Planxa
Chicago has a surprisingly impressive array of hotel restaurants. Mercat a la Planxa inside the Blackstone Hotel in the South Loop is one of the 7 Awesome Spanish Restaurants in Chicago. It specializes in cuisine from the Catalan region. I ate my weight in Catalan cuisine when I was in Barcelona for my birthday.
The Blackstone Hotel on S. Michigan Avenue, across from Grant Park, is best known for the political phrase “In a smoke-filled room.” Mercat a la Planxa is just another reason to stop by this historic landmark.
The menu here includes small and large plates and some more affordable lunch specials. I love the cazuelas, Jamon salad, and the horchata ice cream Bon Bon.
The dramatic floor to ceiling windows overlooking Michigan Avenue and Grant Park make Mercat a la Planxa the perfect spot to enjoy the passersby and hunker down on a snowy day.
638 S. Michigan Avenue – Six blocks north and two blocks east of the Roosevelt Rd. ‘L’ stop on the CTA Red, Green, and Orange Lines. The #3 King Drive and #4 Cottage Grove buses stop here.
The Spanish Square
There is nothing I enjoy more than eating my way through Spain from square to square in each city. Check out the food tour I took through Barcelona in 2016! I was delighted when The Spanish Square opened in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood on the north side.
The Spanish Square is a great neighborhood staple and destination for Chicagoans. There is a tapas bar, a Spanish market and special events such as wine tastings, culinary classes and story time (in Spanish) for the kids!
1358 W. Belmont Ave. – Four blocks south of the Southport ‘L’ stop on the CTA Brown Line.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the ‘L’ and buses to these 7 Awesome Spanish Restaurants in Chicago. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!
Looking for some great Latin food in Chicago? Check out my post 10 Fabulous Latin Eats You Should Have in Chicago
Do you know some awesome Spanish restaurants in Chicago or elsewhere you would like to share with me? Leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you!