7 Places Where Chicago Locals Go for Real Latino Eats and Good Vibes
BETTER DRIVES US. HYUNDAI.
Chicago is one of the world’s most beloved cities. Whether you’re a Cubs fan, love deep-dish pizza, or have taken a selfie in the Cloud Gate, Chicago is a continually awesome place to visit.
Because it’s such a cool city, we’re spotlighting Latinx owned and operated restaurants that are giving back to the hood that they’re in. What could be better than knowing the place you get your grub on is also helping to make its Chicago neighborhood an even better place to visit or live?
Here are 7 places that are totally bringing good to their Chicago hoods:
Mercadito is a special place – not only is the menu from world-renowned Chef Sandoval and boasts incredible tacos such as lobster, carnitas de puerco, and pork belly, but they’re also incredibly invested in creating an authentic community. For instance, they offer experimental dinners and mixology classes, where patrons and members of the community get to actually cook alongside Chef Sandoval. It’s an amazing way to bond with your family, coworkers, friends, and also learn about Mexican culture and cuisine. It’s more than just eating at a restaurant – it’s an immersive, unique experience that gives back to the community.
If the above picture of their specialty New Rebozo Mole doesn’t have you drooling, maybe their Camarones al ajillo platter will, or their Fish tacos with Huitlacoche.
When the Mexican government votes you one of the The Best Authentic Mexican Restaurants, you know it’s the real deal. Owned by Francisco “Chef Paco” Lopez, the joint is a staple in the Chicago area. Their specialty? Mole – and they offer over 21 different moles which is pretty incredible in and of itself.
Nothing brings a hood together more than good food; this spot is perfect for friends to meet after work, or when people are visiting – it shows them an artistic and beautiful side to an already awesome city.
The story of this place starts in 1980, when the Gonzalez family came over from Cuba on a shrimp boat, determined to make their American dream come true.
The history of this place is incredible. Here’s the boat the Gonzalez family traveled on:
CREDIT: 90 Miles
The love for this restaurant’s Cuban culture is amazing. They have lots of events, such as live Cuban music – an awesome way to educate folks in the neighborhood about Cuba and Cuban cuisine, music, art. Nothing brings folks together like good food and good music – it’s a classic pair, and one that 90 Miles does with excellence.
Puerto Rican food is a melting pot of Spain, Africa, and the Amerindian Tainos, making it unique and unlike any other Latin cuisine.
Which is precisely why if you want authentic Puerto Rican food, you’ve got to hit up La Palma Puerto Rican Restaurant in Chicago. La Palma has been serving the Humboldt Park hood of Chicago for over 15 years, and it’s definitely bringing “the good” to it. As they say on their website, they “guarantee you will not leave hungry!” Ummm, yes please.
La Palma is uniting the community of Humboldt Park because it’s not your average restaurant – all of their food is constantly fresh, and their mission is to make it feel as if you’re dining in Abuela’s kitchen. There’s nostalgia mixed into the proud Puerto Rican roots, which makes this a special place that spreads cultural goodness to it’s neighborhood.
Pepe’s started with self-proclaimed humble beginnings all the way back in 1967 by Mario Dovalina and Edwin Ptak. What’s so unique about this place is that while yes, Pepe’s is technically a chain and has many different locations, each restaurant is individually owned. As they describe on their website, the person greeting you at the door is usually the owner of that location.
The company of Pepe’s also supplies private label Mexican food across the U.S. and internationally. They’ve even sold their products in Mexico – again, they are the epitome of the American dream, working from nothing to having over 40 locations, supporting their roots and helping their community flourish.
They’re spreading joy in their community by hosting fun neighborhood events like a “Taco Eating Contest.” They also support The Disabled Patriot Fund, and recently helped raise $5,000, which is an awesome way to invest back into the community that continually keeps them in business.
Ahhh, the wonders of Cuban food! Let’s just all take a moment to observe the above plantain based dish. Are you drooling yet? Good.
Whether you’re craving seafood and want to try the La Cura, or a classic chicken empanada, there is something on the menu for everyone.
What’s special about this Chicago favorite is that all of the ingredients are locally sourced, which means you might need a little extra patience when waiting for your dish to come out. But it’s worth it, knowing they are using products that are good for the environment and healthy for the community.
They also keep the Cuban culture thriving by playing live, loud music. And don’t bother asking them to turn it down – they absolutely won’t. This is a place where the energy is electric and magical, and worth every bite. As their restaurant motto says – “Full belly, happy heart.” AMEN.
Su Casa has a long history in Chicago–going all the way back to the ‘60s, and being currently located in a converted 1867 carriage house. History and a delicious margarita?! What more could you ask for?
Su Casa’s menu is enticing, with its sincronizadas and chalupas, that will keep you coming back for more. It unites its Chicago hood because the product is consistently delicious. You’ll feel like you’ve been magically transported to old Mexico when dining in this 19th century carriage house. The cultural and historical experience that this restaurant brings to it’s hood is unlike anything else.
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