Review Revue: Reader Rounds Up The Hispanophonic Caribbean

Normally, we give physical media reviews quite a bit of coverage, and write full summaries for each restaurant review. That bit us in the ass yesterday, because it took forever to digest the seven restaurants that the Tribune and TOC covered. Meanwhile, the Reader comes out with fourteen reviews for today, with David Hammond highlighting basically every halfway decent Puerto Rican and Cuban restaurant in town, so instead of cataloging them all, we’ll just give you the important stuff:

1) Puerto Rican and Cuban cuisines both draw heavily from Spanish and West African traditions, which means lots of rice and beans and lots of pork and cod. Stews are a popular medium for the cuisines, but both cuisines are also famous for their sandwiches

2) The differences in spicing between the two is subtle, but detectable: Cuban cuisine sticks with basics like onions, garlic, and green peppers, while Puerto Rican cuisine uses culantro (NOT cilantro; actually more like coriander)

3) Chicago has made its mark on Puerto Rican cuisine primarily by way of the jibarito, a sandwich allegedly created by Juan Figuera of Borinquen (Bucktown / North Center / Montclare), which is basically a meaty sandwich with mayo and veggies between two slices of fried plantain (although vegetarian versions are available). Not healthy, but definitely happy

4) For authentic, old-school Cuban food, check out the ropa vieja (steak stewed with peppers in a tomato-based criollo sauce) at Col-ubas Steak House in Andersonville. It’s available three ways: as a sandwich ($3.95), as an entree ($11.95), and part of Thursday’s lunch buffet

The Wings of the Dove: Puerto Rican and Cuban Specialties [Reader]

Borinquen I [MenuPages]

Borinquen II [MenuPages]

Borinquen III [MenuPages]

Col-ubas Steak House [MenuPages]

[Photo: What your jibarito ought to look like, courtesy of Mgmax/flickr]


Review Revue: Reader Rounds Up The Hispanophonic Caribbean