photo: courtesy of Clifton Henri
Café Ba-Ba-Reeba was Chicago's first Spanish-style tapas bar when it opened in 1986, and this Lincoln Park hot spot (with a sister location in Las Vegas) is still ahead of the curve. Start your evening with Ba-Ba-Reeba's new pintxo platter — six double-bite-size tapas for $8.95 or $1.50 each. Pintxos are all the rage these days in northern Spain, from the Basque country to Barcelona, and are perfect for a light meal to supplement your drinking. Make sure you get dibs on the goat cheese croqueta and the short rib stuffed piquillo pepper.
You may have to wait for a table on a weekend night, but hold court with a tasty pitcher of sangria — Chef Gabino Sotelino's original family recipe from Galicia — especially if you order the paella ($10-$13), which takes half an hour to prepare. The extensive tapas menu lets you nibble between four categories: vegetables & cheese, chicken & pork, beef & lamb and seafood. The most popular choices in each category are highlighted on the menu. Don't miss the spinach & manchego stuffed mushrooms with creamy side sauce or the beef tenderloin served with potato chips and blue cheese. Ba-Ba-Reeba’s tapas range in price from $3.50 to $11, so your evening can range from inexpensive to a splurge depending on how much you nibble.
Ba-Ba-Reeba also offers wine values on Tuesdays (all tapas have a partner in the wine family) and occasional cultural events from flamenco shows to paella cooking classes to Spanish art presentations by the Art Institute of Chicago.
Follow Cafe Ba Ba Reeba on Twitter.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Jacob Wheeler