Eatery - Cafe Iberico (IL)

Cafe Iberico on Urbanspoon

737 N Lasalle Blvd, Chicago, IL 60654 (Neighborhood: Near North Side)
Pricing - $$/$$$ | Dining - Casual | Cuisine - Spanish, Tapas

All I really have to say for this place is that it was definitely an awesome Yelp find. I wanted to meet up with a friend I hadn't seen in a long time but since he had been living in Chicago a bit, I told him he had to make the pick. We ended up coming here which was an excellent choice. Forgive the picture quality however; the lighting was dim.

We started off with the patatas bravas which were potatoes covered in a spicy tomato sauce. There was something just oh-so-smooth but firm about the texture that made the potatoes work. The sauce had a great spicy kick to it that intensified by the folds as you ate more; one minute you're having a good time and the next, you've hit it up a notch with the heat. They were excellent.

Next tapas that came out was the queso de cabra which was baked goat cheese with a tomato basil sauce to top on some bread. That goat cheese was amazingly creamy and smooth. I don't know what magic wonders they worked on that cheese but it was so silky in my mouth, I wanted to just eat the whole thing. Altogether, the plate reminded us of a spin on bruschetta. Classic.

The best tapas of the night was the pulpo a la plancha. We have to thank Yelp for that heads-up. It was grilled octopus with potatoes and olive oil. Amazing. The grilled octopus had a fantastic texture, and the charred part spoke volumes about the quality of the grill and technique. So much flavor packed into the seafood parts and the potatoes were a nice pair. Everything was garlicky in that I-need-more kind of way. Everyone loved this dish.

Out next came the paella iberica which the waiter kindly told us to order ahead of time so we could get it on time; it was its own medley of seafood (mussels and clams), pork, chicken, peas, carrots, and rice in saffron sauce. I've got to say that it wasn't all too fantastic in my book and fairly basic. However, it wasn't bad; the rice was a good texture and consistency instead of mushy and the meats were plentiful. Perhaps I'm not a paella person?

The last dish was their braised beef short ribs in mashed potatoes (it was a weekly special so I don't remember the official name). The beef peeled away from the bone beautifully and nearly melted in my mouth. So rich and creamy, the short ribs were fantastic. They were also bedded on some of the creamiest and heaviest mashed potatoes I've ever had. We definitely would've had more of it if we had the stomach real estate!

Our drinks of choice were glasses of sangria from a shared pitcher. Quite delicious indeed! I'd love to come back here for some quick eats if I lived in the area.