Buenos Dias, mi gente! I have an affinity for all things Latin. This year I fell in love with the latest, fabulous food flick, CHEF. And, lately, I have been missing my lovely and talented Cuban-American amigo, Orestes. Since I have no plans to visit Cuba or Miami in the short term, last Friday I decided to immerse myself in some local Cuban cuisine right here in Chicago by catching the CTA Blue Line to Paladar in the Logan Square neighborhood.
Paladar is a Cuban restaurant and rum bar which is located approximately 7 blocks from the Western Avenue ‘L’ stop. Those of you who have been reading my “Feeding Off The Rails Series” posts know that I try to keep my suggestions to those restaurants within 5 walking blocks of any given CTA ‘L” stop. But, the extra 2 blocks won’t kill you. Don’t be lazy. Check it out!
Fun Fact: Paladares are Cuban homes which have been converted into restaurants. They are family-run and serve traditional, authentic Cuban recipes. Paladares are sanctioned by the Cuban government, due to a shortage of local restaurants and the growing rate of tourism in Cuba.
Here’s how my lunch went down:
Since this was my first visit to Paladar, I decided to try their ropa vieja. Evidently, this recipe has not changed since 1921 and I can certainly understand. Why mess with a good thing?! The shredded beef was tender. The tomatoes, peppers and onions were simmered to perfection. The plantains were sweet, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. This dish was warm, piquant and comforting. Great choice! But, I have my eye on the goat stew (“Chivo”) for my next visit which I believe will be very soon and possibly on a Tuesday night when Paladar offers live music.
I also enjoyed Paladar’s traditional mojito or, as I will be calling it, “more-jito” 🙂
I ended my meal with Paladar’s flan which was just the right amount of creamy and not too sweet. If flan is on a menu, I usually try it because although this dessert is supposed to be made with just a few simple ingredients, it can be quite tricky to get right. I am happy to report that Paladar got right! It is “flantastico.”
In keeping with Cuban tradition, Paladar Cuban Restaurant and Rum Bar has created a dining experience which evokes a feeling of dining in a home in Havana. The walls are filled with actual family photos and memorabilia belonging to the Gonzalez family which owns and runs this wonderful place.
The back room, or Havana Club/Rum Bar is also very cozy. Stop by there for a drink or have your meal there as well.
I am so happy that I finally made it to Paladar. The food is authentic and really delicious. The staff is lovely. I love to support family-run businesses, especially in our fragile economy. Well done! Muchas gracias!! Oh! They also offer catering. Nice!
Paladar Cuban Restaurant and Rum Bar is located at 2252 N. Western Avenue. To learn more, visit www.paladarchicago.com
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Blue line to Paladar in Logan Square. Save gas money. Avoid traffic and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!