English Food

The 5 best Spanish restaurants in Chicago (according to a Spaniard)

During the twelve years that I have lived here the question that I have been asked the most has to be “What is your favorite Spanish restaurant in Chicago?”

The first few years there was not much to say. There were tapas restaurants here and there, but the offer was neither impressive nor sophisticated. Good enough for a nostalgia fix, but not for much more. That changed in 2008, when chef José Garcés opened Mercat a la Planxa in front of Grant Park. For the first time, I was eager to recommend a Spanish restaurant. And I used to add that it was good enough that I would consider it a good restaurant in Spain.

Luckily, at least for those of us missing home, or for the ones who are fans of real Spanish food, in the last few years the offer has expanded with several new restaurants that go beyond the concept of tapas. Indeed, tapas are not often served at restaurants in Spain, they are bar food, meant to be consumed while standing up with a glass of wine or beer on  hand. Which doesn’t mean I don’t like them, I think they are a fun concept, especially when you are out with friends or want to watch a good soccer game with some ambiance. But the first tapas restaurant I ever stepped in was a Chicago one.

I hope you enjoy my choices. If you have never tried Spanish food before, there has never been a better moment in Chicago to do so. ¡Que aproveche!

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Disclaimer (added on June 16th 2015): I haven’t received any compensation from the restaurants listed above. I paid for every single item I ordered from them. As my husband would put it, he wishes my blogging expenses would be deductible.  The restaurants didn’t know that I was going to write about them. I have been many times in some of them. I visited others in order to wrote this post. I have also visited the other Spanish restaurants in Chicago, and these five are my top choices.

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