When my college roommate came to visit, a fashionable Saturday late lunch was in order. After wandering the streets of Lincoln Park, we ended up at tapas restaurant Cafe Ba Ba Reeba. Since I'm a born and raised Lettuce Entertain You restaurant-goer, I was a little biased in terms of restaurant options.
I started off with a glass of red sangria, a must-have at a tapas restaurant and on a summer day.
We were so hungry that we just began blurting out an order of whatever caught our eye off the menu. I have always been a fan of croquetas so i tried the "Pinxtos" version of the goat cheese croqueta. "Pinxtos" are little bite-sized treats that allow you to sample a variety of flavors. This croqueta was as amazing as it sounded. Warm gooey goat cheese was complimented by a tiny bit of orange marmalade.
My friends tried another Pinxto, one with raw ahi tuna poached in olive oil on toast. From the look on their faces, it was quite tasty!
Next up was the tortilla espanola, a friend's favorite. This was similar to a quiche and was filled with onions and warm potatoes.
We switched back to seafood to try the spicy shrimp with garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes. Anything that combines spice and garlic gets an A+ in my book, and this dish did not fail. The spicy olive oil also made a great dipping sauce for bread.
My visiting friend ordered the chicken and curry salad. Unfortunately, she expected it to be a salad with greens, but it was a cold mayo-based salad. While the curry salad was tasty, it was also mixed with WAY too much mayo.
I had some great empanadas at a columbian steak house recently, so when I saw them on the menu, I ordered a chicken version. This version was more of a popover, as it had a flaky, buttery crust, rather than a corn shell. The minced chicken and red pepper filling was savory and was great with the dollop of garlic aioli.
Last but not least, was the spinach and artichoke crepe my friend ordered off the brunch tapas menu. Although quite oily, she said it was delicious and had heaping amounts of fresh artichokes.
Three hungry girls and 8 tapas plates later, we left full beyond belief. It's amazing how these tiny bites can lead to such a full belly! We had a great dining experience and the food was fresh and piping hot. The only complaint is one that my friend brought up: there was a strong emphasis on fried foods and mayo and less emphasis on meats and more nutritious items. I will definitely be back for dinner and to try their version of paella!4 delicious stars!
Cafe Ba Ba Reeba
2024 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60614