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The Chicago Traveler

Tapas Tour

by Matt B on April 29th, 2007

There are numerous tapas restaurants throughout the city. How can one decide which one to pick? Well, who says we have to pick just one? Whether you prefer old-world or a modern twist, there’s something out there for you.

sangriaHaro is a hot spot in the Little Italy neighborhood on the lower West Side with some very unique tapas dishes. “We try to capture that feeling as far as the typical tapas bar that people remember when they travel to Spain,” says Javier Haro, the owner. Most of the menu is comprised of imported Spanish ingredients, which are incorporated into favorites like the rib-eye steak with Cabrales cheese and the roasted chicken with Serrano ham and goat cheese. While sangria is, of course, a popular favorite, Haro offers other options like Spanish wine, apple cider, and Kalimotxo (similar to sangria but with a splash of Coca-Cola). Don’t miss the live entertainment! Performers provide flamenco music, dancers present authentic Spanish moves and grooves, and there are even movie showings and poetry readings.

If you’re an admirer of modern art, perhaps you’d like Tapas Barcelona in Evanston, just north of Chicago. Giovanni Garelli, the owner, had opened the restaurant in hopes of being a little different from the rest. He has surely found success and has acquired quite a few regulars, whose favorite dish is grilled mussels with garlic and butter. Other favorites include skewered chicken, grilled lamb chops with couscous, and stuffed olives. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun, giving the place a very homey, neighborhood feel, enjoyable for both big groups and casual dates. Get there early though; popular, delicious food like this generates a reasonable crowd for dinner.

People Lounge in Wicker Park is a late-night hangout where hungry customers can find both traditional tapas and foods with a modern twist. Try the Caesar salad with anchovies imported from Spain, the skirt steak with Manchego cheese, or the shrimp skewer with “secret sauce” and couscous. People also provides a wide selection of beers from all over the world, both red and white sangria, and a Spanish-dominated wine list. However, you absolutely cannot miss the flan! DJs spin world music beats, and on Thursdays, the restaurant features live music. Finally, if you’re feeling especially friendly, there are communal tables available as well as traditional seating.

Photo credit: (c/o SXC) Matthijs van Dijk

Haro ($$): 2436 S Oakley St; 773-847-2400
Tues - Thurs: 12 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Fri: 12 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Sat: 5 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Sun - Mon: closed
Difficult street parking; valet available
Public Trans: Bus #60 or Blue Line train (Western)

Tapas Barcelona ($$): 1615 Chicago Ave (Evanston); 847-866-9900
Mon - Sat: 11:30 a.m. - 2: 30 p.m. (lunch)
Mon - Thurs: 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. (dinner)
Fri - Sat: 5 p.m. - 11 p.m. (dinner)
Sun: 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. (dinner)
Difficult street parking; pay lot
Public Trans: Purple Line train (Davis) or Metra (Union Pacific North: Davis)

People Lounge ($): 1560 N Milwaukee Ave; 773-227-9339
Sun - Fri: 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Sat: 5 p.m. - 3 a.m.
(Food served until 1 a.m.)
Difficult street parking, valet available ($10 Thurs - Sat)
Public Trans: Bus #56, 50, 72 or Blue Line train (Damen)

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POSTED IN: Restaurants

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