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Heroic jibaritos

Heroic jibaritos
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  • Heroic jibaritos

    Post #1 - March 17th, 2008, 6:28 pm
    Post #1 - March 17th, 2008, 6:28 pm Post #1 - March 17th, 2008, 6:28 pm
    The jibarito's invention at Borinquen, 1720 N. California Ave., has been widely documented and discussed, and when the sandwich is recommended, that's generally the place that comes up. But all kinds of Latin-American restaurants in Chicago now serve jibaritos (and even a few non-Latino places). Is Borinquen's the best? What are the other contenders?
  • Post #2 - March 17th, 2008, 6:49 pm
    Post #2 - March 17th, 2008, 6:49 pm Post #2 - March 17th, 2008, 6:49 pm
    We've been on a quest to find one to replace the lost forever verson at Salamera; recently, we went to Borinquen to try the original, and found the filling to be bland and the tostones not very crispy. Something I'd eat if I were there, but not quest-worthy.

    My favorite tostones are at a place where the rest of the food OK: Sabor A Cafe, and I was delighted to find a Colombian version called Patacon Pisao. It was still not up to Salamera standards, lacking the spicy garlic paste on the tostones and guacamole inside, but the tostones were heavenly, and the meat inside was nicely charred and flavorful. We ordered avocado, which comes as a side, and didn't feel the need to put it in.

    Following the subject on LTH, it seems that the next place to try is Papa's Cache Sabroso, which is a bit out of the way for us, but we plan to make a trip soon...
  • Post #3 - March 17th, 2008, 7:04 pm
    Post #3 - March 17th, 2008, 7:04 pm Post #3 - March 17th, 2008, 7:04 pm
    Cafe Laguardia West will make you a jibarito (using a much better cheese than El Borinquen) on request. I don't think their steak, whether the cut or the marinade, is quite up to snuff, but I still enjoy the overall sandwich better. I just noticed this is a standard item on the original location menu but can't speak to the quality there.
  • Post #4 - March 17th, 2008, 9:27 pm
    Post #4 - March 17th, 2008, 9:27 pm Post #4 - March 17th, 2008, 9:27 pm
    The jibarito at Habana Libre is pretty good. I haven't had many jibaritos, but I found Habana Libre's version on par with Cafe Salamera's.
  • Post #5 - March 17th, 2008, 9:40 pm
    Post #5 - March 17th, 2008, 9:40 pm Post #5 - March 17th, 2008, 9:40 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    While we both very much liked the chicken, Daane thought the jibarito was the best he'd encountered.

    Jibarito, fried chicken, tostones
    Image

    Fast Food Place and Ice Cream
    3611 W Armitage Ave
    Chicago, IL 60647
    773-135-1768


    Agreed, nice find.
  • Post #6 - March 17th, 2008, 10:50 pm
    Post #6 - March 17th, 2008, 10:50 pm Post #6 - March 17th, 2008, 10:50 pm
    Hi,

    My favorite jibarito is from Papa's Pollo Chon. Freshly cooked, flavorful with a side of tostones glistening with garlic oil. Their chicken last time I was there was back on track, too. I like it all.

    Pollo Chon/Papa's Cache Sabroso
    2517 W. Division
    Chicago, IL
    773-862-8313

    I once tried Borinquen on an evening when the teenage staff were barely keeping their eye on the affairs of business. They didn't freshly grill the plantain, which meant I had a rubbery platform for an indifferently made sandwich. While I appreciate Borinquen's inventiveness, I prefer going where the sandwich is treated as an art form.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #7 - March 18th, 2008, 9:41 am
    Post #7 - March 18th, 2008, 9:41 am Post #7 - March 18th, 2008, 9:41 am
    Borinquen's Jibaritos seems to varies from each branch. The best Jibarito I had was at their 3020 N. Central Branch. Perhaps it's just my personal preference, with the Jibarito at Borinquen and Papas accompanied with large amount of mayonnaise to make me gag, that I liked Cafe Salamera - replacing mayo with avocado.
  • Post #8 - March 18th, 2008, 9:48 am
    Post #8 - March 18th, 2008, 9:48 am Post #8 - March 18th, 2008, 9:48 am
    hamph wrote:Borinquen's Jibaritos seems to varies from each branch. The best Jibarito I had was at their 3020 N. Central Branch. Perhaps it's just my personal preference, with the Jibarito at Borinquen and Papas accompanied with large amount of mayonnaise to make me gag, that I liked Cafe Salamera - replacing mayo with avocado.


    The Central Avenue location of Borinquen was where I had my uneventful sandwich.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #9 - March 19th, 2008, 9:48 am
    Post #9 - March 19th, 2008, 9:48 am Post #9 - March 19th, 2008, 9:48 am
    The Winds is not a likely place to find such a wonderful jibarito. This neighborhood joint has a great juke box and a great vibe courtesy of the owners. The jibarito comes with choice of chicken, steak or the non-tradtional veggie burger. Good meat sandwiched between perfectly cooked plantains and I can't get enough of the garlic brushed on top!

    2657 N Kedzie Ave (Logan Square)
    Chicago, IL 60647
    (773) 489-7478
    www.windscafeofchicago.com
    Senorita P.
  • Post #10 - March 19th, 2008, 10:49 am
    Post #10 - March 19th, 2008, 10:49 am Post #10 - March 19th, 2008, 10:49 am
    senoritap wrote:The Winds is not a likely place to find such a wonderful jibarito. This neighborhood joint has a great juke box and a great vibe courtesy of the owners. The jibarito comes with choice of chicken, steak or the non-tradtional veggie burger. Good meat sandwiched between perfectly cooked plantains and I can't get enough of the garlic brushed on top!

    2657 N Kedzie Ave (Logan Square)
    Chicago, IL 60647
    (773) 489-7478
    www.windscafeofchicago.com


    Just had dinner last night at The Winds, although not the jibarito. To put the recommendation above in context, and as fair warning, please note The Winds is very expensive for the type of food (e.g., $13.95 for that jibarito) and the setting (it's a bar; a nice enough bar, but still just a bar filled with formica hightops and TVs). Now, this fact can be balanced out by the no-cover musical entertainment just about every night of the week, which is great if you happen to be eating when the musicians are performing. But they charge the same regardless of the presence or absence of live music. Mrs. JiLS and I paid over $60 (with tax and tip) for an order of jerk chicken with rice and salad, a bowl of soup and a plate of rice and beans, plus three pints of Harp ($5.00 a pint). The drummer started setting up as we were waiting for our check. Bottom line, the food is good bar food and would be very good at about half the price, and with a cover charge for the music. Maybe this is an issue with licensing? Do bars that charge cover for live music have additional requirements/fees to pay, thus hiding the cost for the music in the food is an end-run maneuver? Anyway, it kind of limits the appeal for the early-bird crowd.
    Last edited by JimInLoganSquare on March 19th, 2008, 10:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
    JiLS
  • Post #11 - March 19th, 2008, 10:51 am
    Post #11 - March 19th, 2008, 10:51 am Post #11 - March 19th, 2008, 10:51 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Hi,

    My favorite jibarito is from Papa's Pollo Chon. Freshly cooked, flavorful with a side of tostones glistening with garlic oil. Their chicken last time I was there was back on track, too. I like it all.

    Pollo Chon/Papa's Cache Sabroso


    my favorite as well. (unfortunately, not open on sunday's, and it seems every time i've wanted it lately it's been a lazy sunday when they weren't open)
  • Post #12 - March 27th, 2008, 6:21 pm
    Post #12 - March 27th, 2008, 6:21 pm Post #12 - March 27th, 2008, 6:21 pm
    Solely in the interest of accurate research, the family and I headed out to Papa's for dinner tonight...It's unfortunate that I'd been so spoiled - not only were Salamera's jibaritos a thing of beauty, but they were right around the corner. While the six-level spits of chickens at Papa's were a delight for the eyes and nose, I miss my neighborhood jibarito joint.

    As reported, Papa's jibaritos are good: the tostones are nicely seasoned (garlic salt?) and the meat is tender and topped with your choice of white or yellow American cheese and delicious, sloppy grilled onions - and tomato and lettuce as a bit of an afterthought. We ordered avocado on the side, which turned out to be a welcome addition. They were rather heavily dressed with (I think) Miracle Whip - only objectionable when you got a big dollop of it. It's still a good example of the whole being more than the sum of its parts.

    If I was in the neighborhood, I'd definitely stop by and get one, but for now, when I have a hankering I'll stick with (closer by) Sabor A Cafe...where the parts are better than the sum of the whole, but they're still plenty good parts.
  • Post #13 - March 28th, 2008, 11:34 am
    Post #13 - March 28th, 2008, 11:34 am Post #13 - March 28th, 2008, 11:34 am
    Not convenient for you, Mhays, but Ann Fisher reports on a likely jibarito at JT's in Berwyn.
  • Post #14 - March 28th, 2008, 1:52 pm
    Post #14 - March 28th, 2008, 1:52 pm Post #14 - March 28th, 2008, 1:52 pm
    I don't have a great basis for comparison, but I did enjoy my jibaro (as named on their menu) last week at Cafe Central on Chicago Avenue. It wasn't heavy on the mayo and the garlic was served on the side for me to apply to my taste. I thought the steak was very flavorful and the plantains non-greasy.

    Cafe Central
    1437 W Chicago Ave
    (312) 243-6776
  • Post #15 - March 28th, 2008, 2:05 pm
    Post #15 - March 28th, 2008, 2:05 pm Post #15 - March 28th, 2008, 2:05 pm
    Sparky has friends we visit in Elmhurst, and would probably not object to a side trip through Berwyn if a jibarito was part of it...though the idea of DIY garlic sauce sounds like we might go Lakeshore Drive and make two stops...

    All in the name of accuracy, of course... :)
  • Post #16 - March 28th, 2008, 2:36 pm
    Post #16 - March 28th, 2008, 2:36 pm Post #16 - March 28th, 2008, 2:36 pm
    I might devise my own personal jibarito tour. Last week was Cafe Central. I might encourage my post-volleyball group to try Habana Libre this Saturday to try their jibarito. Will I get jibarito burnout if I eat one a week???
  • Post #17 - March 29th, 2008, 1:49 pm
    Post #17 - March 29th, 2008, 1:49 pm Post #17 - March 29th, 2008, 1:49 pm
    Week Two of my personal jibarito taste-off. I convinced the gang to head to Habana Libre for post-volleyball sustenance today. The Habana Libre version was also a do-it-yourself garlic application. I might have gone a little crazy with the garlic... I would say this was a good sandwich, but I liked the Cafe Central version better. The steak at Cafe Central was more flavorful. However, the plantains at Habana Libre were a little thicker and felt more durable than CC. Still, it was a tasty sandwich at Habana Libre.
  • Post #18 - March 29th, 2008, 2:55 pm
    Post #18 - March 29th, 2008, 2:55 pm Post #18 - March 29th, 2008, 2:55 pm
    Borinquen Lounge at 3811 N. Western makes the best in the local chain. The central and california locations tend to drop the ball on garlic and seasoning, whereas the Western location seems to hit it everytime. 've had jibaritos at most of the locations listed above, and this one consistently ranks as my favorite, above all others. Always exploring to make sure though....
    MJN "AKA" Michael Nagrant
    http://www.michaelnagrant.com
  • Post #19 - April 23rd, 2008, 8:16 pm
    Post #19 - April 23rd, 2008, 8:16 pm Post #19 - April 23rd, 2008, 8:16 pm
    I'm wondering if we can draft a description of a perfect jibarito. (For the tourists, by the way, a jibarito is a Chicago-born, Puerto Rican-inspired sandwich made with fried plantains instead of bread. It can have any kind of filling although the original was steak, and it usually has cheese as well.)

    From the descriptions above, and my own tastes, I'd say crispy, well seasoned and ungreasy plantains and good garlicky dressing are essential. Tender meat. Decent cheese.

    Anything else?
  • Post #20 - April 23rd, 2008, 9:57 pm
    Post #20 - April 23rd, 2008, 9:57 pm Post #20 - April 23rd, 2008, 9:57 pm
    LAZ wrote:I'm wondering if we can draft a description of a perfect jibarito. (For the tourists, by the way, a jibarito is a Chicago-born, Puerto Rican-inspired sandwich made with fried plantains instead of bread. It can have any kind of filling although the original was steak, and it usually has cheese as well.)

    From the descriptions above, and my own tastes, I'd say crispy, well seasoned and ungreasy plantains and good garlicky dressing are essential. Tender meat. Decent cheese.

    Anything else?


    I will formally second that motion, and definitely garlicy dressing...and a bit of minced garlic crusted onto the plantains (while they're fried) never hurts!

    I have been to Borinquen on Cal (usually very tasty IMHO), but I live walking distance from Pollo Chon so will check it out!
    - Mark

    Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon? Ham? Pork chops?
    Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
    Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
  • Post #21 - May 3rd, 2008, 12:53 pm
    Post #21 - May 3rd, 2008, 12:53 pm Post #21 - May 3rd, 2008, 12:53 pm
    Thanks for the tip, Cathy. I just biked down to Papa's for lunch to have my first jibarito ever. It was on point, in accordance with descriptions of the ideal jibarito. However, while the tostones packed a garlicky punch, I didn't notice any garlic dressing on the sandwich.

    The small restaurant had a great vibe, too. Seemed like everybody in the neighborhood was swooping in to claim pick up orders (including a Pizza Metro employee). A couple tables were talking about high school baseball.

    I can't believe I'd been living in Chicago for six years without trying one of these!

    One question: is the sandwich pronounced hee-bah-ree-two, or hee-bah-ree-tah?
  • Post #22 - May 3rd, 2008, 1:30 pm
    Post #22 - May 3rd, 2008, 1:30 pm Post #22 - May 3rd, 2008, 1:30 pm
    John Rebus wrote:One question: is the sandwich pronounced hee-bah-ree-two, or hee-bah-ree-tah?


    I've always pronounced it hee-bah-ree-toh. Feel free to correct me, oh wiser ones. :)
  • Post #23 - May 6th, 2008, 11:36 pm
    Post #23 - May 6th, 2008, 11:36 pm Post #23 - May 6th, 2008, 11:36 pm
    I'm partial to the version cooked up at Borincuba on the 3400 block of Irving Park; in particular, you can opt for ripe plantains instead of green, which I usually do. (They refer to the ripe-plantain version as a "jibarita" as opposed to a "jibarito." I suppose it's more girly or something.) Unfortunately, the downside is that it's a slightly greasy affair, and a couple of napkins will be necessary afterward.
  • Post #24 - June 5th, 2008, 8:36 am
    Post #24 - June 5th, 2008, 8:36 am Post #24 - June 5th, 2008, 8:36 am
    Sorry, I don't have pics, but tried Habana Libre - the jibarito is excellent, though I'd order some garlic sauce on the side to amp it up a bit. Of the four I've tried recently, this one was my favorite: crisp tostones (though not as ethereal as the ones at Sabor a Cafe, still my fave for tostones) flavorful meat, a nice, crisp leaf of romaine, tomato, lightly and simply dressed with mayo IIRC - if there was cheese, it melted into the background where it belongs.

    Worth the trip - I'm planning to visit again with the Hays family in tow.
  • Post #25 - June 6th, 2008, 8:11 am
    Post #25 - June 6th, 2008, 8:11 am Post #25 - June 6th, 2008, 8:11 am
    Mhays wrote:Sorry, I don't have pics, but tried Habana Libre - the jibarito is excellent, though I'd order some garlic sauce on the side to amp it up a bit.


    Ask and ye shall receive

    Habana Libre Jibarito
    Image
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #26 - June 6th, 2008, 10:28 am
    Post #26 - June 6th, 2008, 10:28 am Post #26 - June 6th, 2008, 10:28 am
    Thanks, Steve! That is, indeed, a thing of beauty!
  • Post #27 - June 11th, 2008, 10:29 pm
    Post #27 - June 11th, 2008, 10:29 pm Post #27 - June 11th, 2008, 10:29 pm
    One place that never seems to get mentioned on these threads is Papi's Cafe on Milwaukee Avenue. I tried their jibarito and it was mostly pretty good. The steak was nice and tasty with a bit of mojo zing. The plantains were nice and crispy and had a pretty good garlic kick. But the dealbreaker was the cheese. I had never had cheese on a jibarito before so I thought I'd give it a try. To my shock and horror, the "cheese" they use on their jibarito is a slice of Kraft Singles American cheese! Seriously, what the hell!!

    Other than that, I'd say the jibarito was on the upside of average. I also tried a Cuban sandwich while I was there. Oddly enough, it does not come with mustard so you have to ask for it. I was not thrilled with the bread but the rest of the sammich was pretty good -- good ingredient balance, nice melty cheese, juicy shredded lechon, and very tasty ham even though it looked like little more than deli slices. Again, I'd rank it on the better side of average. I will have to try the medianoche... and if it's not any better than "the better side of average" then I'm not sure I'll be making too many trips to this place.

    BTW, they just moved a couple blocks down the street to a bigger place with table seating, so anyone familiar with their old location, take note of the new one:

    Papi's Cafe
    3334 N. Milwaukee Ave
    Ph: ???
  • Post #28 - July 13th, 2008, 6:41 am
    Post #28 - July 13th, 2008, 6:41 am Post #28 - July 13th, 2008, 6:41 am
    MJN wrote:Borinquen Lounge at 3811 N. Western makes the best in the local chain. The central and california locations tend to drop the ball on garlic and seasoning, whereas the Western location seems to hit it everytime. 've had jibaritos at most of the locations listed above, and this one consistently ranks as my favorite, above all others. Always exploring to make sure though....
    Inspired by Mhays's talk of jibaritos at Wiener and Still Champion Friday, I've finally found this most relevant thread. And thanks to MJN's earlier online article about it, I've also been to the Western Borinquen Lounge a number of times for its most famous fare. While the jibarito there is... acceptable... it's hard to enjoy it too much when I still have fond memories of Cafe Salamera's version lingering in the recesses of my heart (perhaps quite literally). Not getting guacamole (er, avocado?) at Borinquen by default just feels wrong somehow. I think it's time for me to try some of the other contenders in this thread. :D

    Thanks for questing on, all,
    Dan
  • Post #29 - July 13th, 2008, 7:48 am
    Post #29 - July 13th, 2008, 7:48 am Post #29 - July 13th, 2008, 7:48 am
    fastfoodsnob wrote:I've also been to the Western Borinquen Lounge a number of times for its most famous fare. While the jibarito there is... acceptable...

    FFS,

    I find the Western Ave Borinquen's jibaritos a distant second to the original Borinquen location on California. Papa's on Division and Fast Food Place, a little snack shop on West Armitage, a few blocks East of Weegee's, are my current picks for jibaritos.

    fastfoodsnob wrote:Not getting guacamole (er, avocado?) at Borinquen by default just feels wrong somehow.

    Cafe Salamera [RIP] is the only place I have encountered avocado/guacamole as standard with a jibarito.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Borinquen Restaurant
    1720 N. California Ave
    Chicago, IL
    773-227-6038

    Fast Food Place and Ice Cream
    3611 W Armitage Ave
    Chicago, IL 60647
    773-135-1768

    Papa's Cashe Sabroso
    2517 W Division St
    Chicago, IL 60622
    773-862-8313
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #30 - July 13th, 2008, 12:47 pm
    Post #30 - July 13th, 2008, 12:47 pm Post #30 - July 13th, 2008, 12:47 pm
    I'm surprised that nobody else has tried El Jibaro yet:

    viewtopic.php?f=14&t=18772

    But, on second thought, it's pretty close to Honey-1, so that might explain things.

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