Chicago 2011 – Cuban food, beer tasting, and deep dish!

We arrived in Chicago a little after noon on Saturday and hopped on the L towards Ukrainian Village where we would be hitting the hay each night. It took over an hour – word to the wise, bring food onto the plane or pick up a snack along the way! By the time we located our accommodations and dropped off our bags, our stomachs were grumbling in protest. We decided to stop in at Habana Libre for a late lunch.

Habana Libre - fish croquetas

Habana Libre - Sandwiches

Between the two of us, we shared the fish croquetas appetizer, two sandwiches – pan con bistek and jibarito, and a mango milkshake. It was my first time trying a jibarito, and I just looked up the story on Wikipedia:

The jibarito [pronounced hee-bah-ree-to], a specialty of Chicago, is a sandwich made with flattened, fried green plantains instead of bread, garlic-flavored mayonnaise, and a filling that typically includes meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato…

…Chicago restaurateur Juan “Peter” Figueroa introduced the jibarito at Borinquen Restaurant, a Puerto Rican restaurant in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, in 1996, after reading about a Puerto Rican sandwich substituting plantains for bread. The sandwich’s popularity soon spread to other Latin-American restaurants around Chicago, including Mexican, Cuban and Argentinian establishments, and jibaritos now can be found in some mainstream eateries as well.

Tasty and just the thing to munch on.

Habana Libre on Urbanspoon

It started pouring outside during our meal, so we were glad that we were inside. We thought we’d caught a break from the rain, so paid our bill and made our way to the bus stop. Within minutes, we were rained upon.

Getting rained on Getting rained on

To stay dry, we decided to do some beer tasting over at Goose Island. Even though it’s not written on the menu, you can sample four pours of anything they have on tap for $8. It’s quite the deal, and we decided to go with two flights.

Goose Island

Here’s what we tasted and the informal tasting notes I jotted down on the menu:

Uncle Dunkel [European-style Dunkelbier] – doesn’t stand out flavor-wise

Shakar [American Nitro Porter] – hickory smell, like bacon, my favorite dark

Liquid Inspiration Stout [American Stout] – hoppy, imperialish, Ryan’s favorite

Honestly Sour [Export Stout] – sour coffee, :-/

Fleur [Belgian Style Pale Ale] – crisp, hints of sweetness

Matilda [Belgian Style Pale Ale] – pumpkin pie

Pere Jacques [Belgian Style Abbey Ale] – better as it warms up, fruity [bananas or berries?]

The Dream [Italian Farro Ale] – honey lemon tea

Goose Island Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon

We didn’t order any food to pair with our beer because we had deep dish waiting for us! After beer tasting, we went pizza tasting at Lou Malnati’s. It was a #BISC reunion of sorts – Leah +2 and Terra +1 were also in town, so we met up with Nic +1 and Caryn +1 for her favorite deep dish. It was this part of the evening where my camera mysteriously disappeared, so I leave you with two of Terra’s photos.

Lou Malnati's

Lou Malnati's

The key to trying deep dish? Bring an appetite and a large group, so you can order a few different kinds and have a slice of each! The food was good, the company better. While it was delicious, deep dish pizza still isn’t one of those things that I can eat every day. We wrapped up the evening with games at Caryn’s before heading back to our side of the city for the night.

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

  • http://linda.curious-notions.net Linda

    Drinking beer is a wonderful way to stay dry.

    Ha. :)

    • http://superduperfantastic.com/ suki

      Glad you approve of my logic. :p

  • http://haroyoshi.com/ Yoshi

    I miss Chicago and it’s deep dish pizza. Looks like you had fun out of the rain though. I agree with Linda, drinking beer is a good way to stay dry. :D

    • http://superduperfantastic.com/ suki

      I try not to let the weather dampen my spirits. ;)

  • http://www.squidopus.net neil

    What was in the jibarito you had? The only place I’ve had them is at Borinquen, and man do I want one now!

  • theTsaritsa

    I’ve only ever had Chicago-style pizza in the Bay Area. Being a Philly/NY style pizza lover, I wasn’t crazy about it. But maybe I just need to try it where it originated!

  • http://www.ginamarierose.com/ Gina

    The food pictures you post on your blog make me want to swallow my laptop whole. Wish I could  have seen some pics of the deep dish! Guess I’ll just have to go to Chicago and see/try it for myself. :)

  • http://terra-bear.com terra

    I wish I’d know about the beer flight when we stopped by Goose Island – seems like an outstanding way to try their many brews.

    And pizza – I’m with you – it’s not something I can eat everyday, but it’s definitely an interesting and delicious treat.