Ravenswood’s Artango serves authentic South American cuisine, but it’s also a dance studio and something of an avant-garde art gallery– all packed in a hundred-year-old former factory. That certainly makes Artango one of the most unique dining experiences in the city.
Artango started as a tango center inviting Chicagoans to learn more about the Argentinean social dance. Noticing how her students were always hungry after lessons without a lot of nearby places to go, studio owner Maria Alferov, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College, decided to expand. In 2013, Artango branched out into offering a counter-service breakfast and lunch, while later adding a full wait staff and dinner.
Weekday Night Dance Classes and Prix Fixe Menu
Though now a full-restaurant, Artango continues to provide beginning through advanced tango lessons on weekday nights. Great for a weekday night date, they also have a three-course $40 prix fixe menu deal that includes a complimentary introductory group tango lesson. You can choose from seven appetizers, five entrees, and four desserts. Artango is BYOB so it’s recommended you bring a bottle of wine with—a liquor store is nearby if you forget.
Located at 4217 N. Ravenswood Avenue, Artango is on a quiet part of the street without much around (it’s easy to get to via Brown line, bus, and there is plenty of parking in front). They occupy the Degan building, which was built more than a hundred years ago and formerly used to build chimes and musical instruments.
Some of that industrial history is still a part of the restaurant with its open loft-style dining room, brick walls, and exposed wood beam ceiling. Looking around, though, you’re surrounded by striking modern art and custom-made lighting fixtures courtesy of co-owner Sebastian Casanova. Despite all the modern art, Artango doesn’t come across as pretentious; instead, giving off a quirky, romantic vibe. The lights are low with most visibility at night coming from a small table candle. And if you don’t like your date, there’s plenty to look at!
Sampling the Menu
Artango’s menu combines Argentinean, Latin American, Spanish, and even Italian influences. Even if you’re not familiar with cuisine south of Mexico, you’ll find plenty of dishes you’ll recognize– from steaks to seafood. Their pricing definitely falls more in the fine dining realm; however, being able to bring your own alcohol cuts the bill down significantly.
Starting off the meal was a trio of empanadas: two meat and one vegetarian. Their empanadas have a crisp, flaky, buttery crust that’s baked and not fried– so it’s not too greasy. The beef and olive was my favorite of the three, though they were all tasty snacks and a good size for sharing.
For my main course, I tried their seafood paella (paella is a rice dish of Spanish origin), which I was told was one of their most popular dishes. It’s easy to see why: the rice was cooked perfectly and the dish was loaded with a variety of seafood like octopus, scallops, and a shrimp on top.
My date tried a pollo (chicken) dish with a bit of an Italian influence. The chicken was lightly breaded and incredibly tender, while topped with peppers and gooey cheese. There was a tomato-based sauce that gave the chicken a bit of a chicken parmesan vibe, and underneath was a layer of mashed potatoes.
The kitchen also sent out their Bife de Chorizo for us to try. This is an Argentinean beef dish that’s the same cut as a NY strip, which is tender and juicy. Differentiating it from what you’d find at an American steakhouse is pepper and chimichurri sauce giving the steak a rich, slightly sweet Latin flavor. On the side were roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, the latter of which was full of flavor, crisp, and well seasoned.
I gave in to my sweet tooth and tried Artango’s flourless chocolate cake to finish off the night. Sized for one, the cake was soft, gooey, and not overly rich– as flourless chocolate cakes can be. They also had flan and gelato on the menu…maybe next time!
Artango is a charming, hidden Ravenswood gem that makes for a perfect date spot. Whether you go for a prix fixe menu and dance lesson during the week or settle in for a gourmet dinner on the weekend, you’re in for a real treat.
4217 N Ravenswood Ave
Chicago, IL 60613
*photos courtesy of Artango