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A Guide To Latin American Fare In Chicago
When it comes to superior Mexican fare, Chicago's got that covered. Visitors plan vacations centered on reservations at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill and the Pilsen community remains a major attraction for authentic Mexican restaurants and more.
But other excellent Latin restaurants are pretty much scattered across the city. From solid Brazilian brunches to outstanding Cuban cuisine, we've spotlighted some of the most celebrated Latin American restaurants in Chicago.Continue to 2 of 12 below.
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90 Miles Cuban Cafe
Named for the distance it took for the owners to arrive to Florida from their beloved homeland, this Cuban-focused eatery offers breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner in its Logan Square and Roscoe Village locations. You'll find a number of traditional Cuban dishes (think Cubano or ropa vieja) amped up in a "secret" sauce. There are also fresh seafood and vegetarian dishes and both restaurants are BYOB. 3101 N. Clybourn Ave., 773-248-2822 and 2540 W. Armitage Ave., 773-227-2822Continue to 3 of 12 below.
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Artango Bar & Steakhouse
Classic Argentine and other Latin American fare can be found at the Lincoln Square-based Artango, a fashionable establishment also offering live music and dancing several nights a week. Its backdrop channels 1920s Buenos Aires, adding to its exotic appeal. Of great interest on the dinner menu are the juicy, prime steaks, grilled seafood offerings and empanadas. When there is dancing, it ranges from milongo to tango, and there are dance lessons as well as the pros get on the floor to strut their stuff. 4767 N. Lincoln Ave., 872-208-7441
Nearby Hotel(s): The Guesthouse Hotel or 25-minute drive from downtown Chicago hotelsContinue to 4 of 12 below.
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You'll find a host of authentic Puerto Rican restaurants in Humboldt Park, but one of the pioneers is located not too far away in West Town. Cafe Central originally opened in another near west side location in 1952, but it's been at this site since the mid-1960s. The casual, diner-style restaurant stays open from breakfast through dinner and offers a classic Puerto Rican breakfast of plantains, sausage and eggs, plus seafood Creole dishes and whole fried fish entrees. 1437 W. Chicago Ave., 773-243-6776Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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The vibrant Fulton Market district destination spotlights a number of Latin regions by featuring dishes and drinks from all over South America. A new brunch menu features American and Latin favorites, such as a churro-style waffle topped with sugar, cinnamon and Mexican chocolate ganache, and wood-grilled skirt steak and eggs. For those coming for dinner, the oxtail empanada, seafood paella and adobo-rubbed New York strip are always great choices. The front-room lounge plays host to live Latin bands with dancing, plus serves as a popular after-work hangout. 702 W. Fulton St., 312-850-5005Continue to 6 of 12 below.
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Only 10 minutes from downtown and right off the Kennedy Expressway is this friendly, bilevel Peruvian restaurant with BYO service. The first-floor dining room is filled with authentic memorabilia from the South American country, and the top floor, which offers a handful of tables, gives diners a great view of the action. That's especially important on Friday and Saturday when a musician settles in to perform traditional Peruvian songs. The menu includes crispy, handmade empanadas, plus moderately priced steak and seafood entrees. 2554 W. Diversey Ave., 773-235-4500
Nearby Hotel(s): Longman & Eagle Inn and 10-minute drive from downtown Chicago hotelsContinue to 7 of 12 below.
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Irazu Costa Rican Restaurant
The family-owned Costa Rican restaurant has been around since 1990, and it's been a longtime favorite for its unique sandwiches, shakes and salsa Lizano--the famed spicy-sweet regional condiment that comes with all dishes. Most popular are authentic entrees casado (meat or seafood served with white rice, black beans, sweet plantains and over easy egg) and El Tico (meat sauteed with onions, bell peppers and onion). The thick, house-made shakes come in flavors such as oatmeal, papaya, mango and pineapple. It's BYO. 1865 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-252-5687
Nearby Hotel(s): Longman & Eagle Inn and 10-minute drive from downtown Chicago hotelsContinue to 8 of 12 below.
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La Sirena Clandestina
The intimate setting of this Argentine-focused restaurant in the Fulton Market district serves as a great place for a romantic dinner. Sexy Latin music plays at the right level as couples nosh on share-able dishes and sip on eclectic elixirs with exotic ingredients. La Sirena's menu changes often, which you should expect at a chef-driven restaurant, but you can always count on a few standards on the brunch and dinner menus. Expect baked empanadas (though the ingredients may change), grilled beef short ribs with red pepper pesto, charred chicory and candied Brazil nuts, and a whole fried fish topped with signature hot sauces. There's also occasional live music. 954 W. Fulton St., 312-226-5300
La Sirena's so great that it warranted a sequel. West Loop newcomer El Che Bar (845 W. Washington Blvd.) opened in August 2016. It fuses Midwestern and Argentine fare, and sprinkles in local ingredients whenever possible. It's situated in a former taxi headquarters building.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Sinha Elegant Brazilian Cuisine
Sinha Elegant Cuisine. Directly across the street from the United Center is this authentic South American find where a Brazilian-born woman generously opens her home for public consumption. Sunday brunch (two seatings at 2 and 4 p.m.) includes live entertainment, samba dancing and an all-you-can-eat spread of classic Brazilian dishes such as basmati rice, black beans and fish stew. It's $30 per person and BYOB. 2018 W. Adams St., 312-491-8200Continue to 10 of 12 below.
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The insanely popular BYO Argentinean steakhouse makes its home not too far away from Wrigley Field, which means that it's a popular destination after Cubs games. It's from the same folks who also own ñ, but Tango Sur is more chef driven and focused on special preparations of classic Argentine entrees. Chef "specials" include a number of share-able seafood and meat dishes; lomo relleno (half slab Argentine filet filled with chimichurri and ham sauce, then cooked and served on a grill with Portabella marsala) and vacio (half slab of range-grown flap meat, sliced and filled with olive oil, garlic and parsley sauce, then cooked and served on a grill with roasted sweet potatoes) are two of the most popular. 3763 N. Southport Ave., 773-477-5466
Nearby Hotel(s): Here are 10 top hotels near Wrigley FieldContinue to 11 of 12 below.
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Specializing in fine Peruvian cuisine and pisco cocktails, Tanta is owned by famed Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio. While Rio's d'Sudamerica is neighborhood oriented and family friendly, Tanta is sleek, upscale and draws the River North crowd. In addition to street food-inspired cuisine, ceviche and specialty Peruvian dishes, the restaurant offers a unique pisco spirit program. Guests may order signature pisco cocktails on tap, or a flight of infused pisco tastings. 118 W. Grand Ave., 312-222-9700
In May 2016, the owners opened global cocktail lounge Arbella (112 W. Grand Ave.) next door to Tanta. It serves as an after-hang for Tanta, where guests go for small bites, deejays spinning exotic grooves and cocktails like the Singapore Sling and caipirinha.Continue to 12 of 12 below.
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Texas de Brazil
This outpost of the well-known churrascaria, or Brazilian steakhouse, makes its home in the upscale Streeterville neighborhood on the Near North Side. It's a brief walk to the Magnificent Mile and Navy Pier, but there's enough excitement within these walls to keep you entertained for at least a few hours. A generous salad bar accompanies the massive meat parade of skewers of filet, pork loin, bacon-wrapped chicken, which only ends when diners tell the servers to stop bringing them. The main dining room offers a picturesque view of Streeterville skyscrapers and there's catchy Latin music thumping from the speakers. The best part about your experience here is that you get to take a piece of it home: For an extra $9, chefs will grill a dozen of the house-made Brazilian sausages for you. It's $46.50 per person. 210 E. Illinois St., 312-595-0913
Nearby Hotel(s): Intercontinental Hotel Chicago, Hyatt Chicago, Loews Chicago Hotel, Park Hyatt Chicago, Peninsula Chicago, Raffaello Hotel, Ritz-Carlton Chicago, Sheraton Grand Chicago, W Chicago-Lakeshore