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Cafe Salamera [Peruvian] + Pictures

Cafe Salamera [Peruvian] + Pictures
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  • Cafe Salamera [Peruvian] + Pictures

    Post #1 - July 1st, 2005, 12:48 pm
    Post #1 - July 1st, 2005, 12:48 pm Post #1 - July 1st, 2005, 12:48 pm
    FYI,

    There is an great little Peruvian restaurant that opened up about a month ago on North Clark St. called Cafe Salamera. The sandwiches are awesome, as are the friendly staff. Enjoy Inca Kola as you watch the soccer/football game and eat your way through a fried pork sandwich with sweet potatoes and onion salsa. Located at 6653 N. Clark St. (773) 764-7210


    ChefGEB
    www.gebowles.com
  • Post #2 - July 1st, 2005, 1:02 pm
    Post #2 - July 1st, 2005, 1:02 pm Post #2 - July 1st, 2005, 1:02 pm
    Thanks for the tip, Chef! Sounds tasty. And close. Much obliged.

    8)
  • Post #3 - September 7th, 2005, 8:41 pm
    Post #3 - September 7th, 2005, 8:41 pm Post #3 - September 7th, 2005, 8:41 pm
    The veg and I Had really a very nice lunch at Salamera this afternoon with G Wiv.

    I had been meaning to get down there since I read ChefGEB's post and almost made it this weekend but was put off by a sign in the window indicating that it would be closed until further notice because of a family emergency.

    Norka, the proprietress, told us that today was the first day they were open again, and the emergency turned out to be that her uncle (who runs a cevicheria in lima) and was her cook had to return to peru. She luckily found another peruvian cook and reopened. When we first entered she was apologetic that they were unable to make a number of popular items because they had just reopened, such as jibaritos and a drink and dessert made from purple corn. She even tried to steer us to taste of peru down the street, which is run by a friend (and whose owner's sister it turned out was eating in salamera when we entered). That concern was emblematic of the appealing, friendly, and open service we had throughout the meal.

    As they did not have the purple corn drink or papaya juice yet available, Gary and I both ordered cafe con leche, Norka asking us if we would like an extra shot of expresso to accompany the coffee, which both Gary and I did.

    Though there were a few items from the menu that they were unable to prepare for us, we were able to get the fried pork and sweet potato sandwich ChefGeb highlighted (on the menu as chicharron con camotes), as well the house special steak sandwich (the salamera), a made to order veg. sandwich for my wife which included sweet potato, avocado, cheese, lettuce and red onion. My wife really like the care that had been shown in this request, including the squeeze of lime drizzled on the toppings, and indicated that she would go back for this.

    Having read my calvin trillin, I was pretty excited to see ceviche on the menu. An order was $8, and it was far more than enough for two, full of whole scallops, mussels, shrimp, large chunks of swordfish, and squid. One of the better ceviches around town that I've had. Even better with little bits of the sweet potato slices that were served with it, and the large crunchy roasted corn (cancha) that norka let us know were to be added on top.

    These cancha were also provided for us to nibble on while we waited for our order and were quite addictive. I've always sought out the old maids in popcorn bags, especially those that have almost popped. These were like those kernels on steroids. warm, with roasty corn flavor and a taste of salt, we had a few little bowlfuls throughout the meal. Norka seeing our interest brought out the bag of kernels she gets at la unica for us to see and gave my wife small container of the already roasted kernels to take home.

    how were the meat sandwiches? though I really enjoyed the chicharron (unlike mex. preps I've had, these were more straight pork belly) and the sweet potato, I think I enjoyed the salamera, strips of steak and sauteed tomato even more.

    After the meal, we were offered a selection of chocolates from peru, that were very very nice, I tried one with prune, one with some sort of liquor, and one with some sort of nut (castana) that I didn't recognize but liked quite a bit.

    I'll definitely be back, If I lived in the immediate neighborhood, I might spend quite a bit of time there. Unfortunately, I may not have the opportunity to, Norka indicated that unless business picks up significantly she will have to sell the place, as she'd like to hire a waitress so she can spend more time at home with her son. With a little more coming in, she'd bring a cousin in from peru to help her out.

    I'd highly suggest that folks get over there and give the place a try. Don't wait, you might not get another shot.
    Last edited by zim on September 8th, 2005, 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #4 - September 8th, 2005, 6:10 pm
    Post #4 - September 8th, 2005, 6:10 pm Post #4 - September 8th, 2005, 6:10 pm
    Zim,

    I really enjoyed our lunch at Cafe Salamera, ceviche was excellent, loaded with fresh as a daisy seafood, enhanced, both taste and texturally, by the crunch of the cancha and livened by Norka's use of the Veg's Purple Peruvian peppers.

    Cafe Salamera Ceviche
    Image

    Cafe Salamera Ceviche w/cancha
    Image

    The cancha, which we emptied almost as fast as Norka refilled, was terrific. Crunchy, salty, with an almost airy lightness. Similar to corn nuts, but better.

    Cafe Salamera's Cancha
    Image

    The sandwiches were excellent, from the rich porky goodness of the fried pork sandwich, offset perfectly by sweet potato and onions.
    Image

    To the full flavor of the Salamera, steak w/sauteed onions and tomato.
    Image

    The Veg's vegetarian sandwich, which Norka happily accommodated, even though it was not on the menu, looked terrific.
    Image

    Cafe Salamera serves a spicy green Peruvian style table salsa,
    Image

    Which perfectly compliments the rich fried pork belly.
    Image
    (Looking at the picture of Salamera's pork with the green salsa is making me hungry. :) )

    Cancha can be purchased 'raw' at La Unica
    Image

    Zim's wife and I trade my home made chili oil for her Peruvian peppers every year and Norka was happy to see peppers from home, even showed them to her Peruvian friends eating lunch.

    Fish Pepper/Purple Peruvian/Thai Pepper (Grown by the Veg)
    Image

    Cafe Salamera is a wonderful restaurant, inexpensive, tasty, carefully prepared food, excellent service, warm, friendly proprietress, all rolled into a clean, comfortable very pleasant Clark street storefront.

    Norka, owner of Cafe Salamera with Peruvian chocolates.
    Image

    I plan on going back to Cafe Salamera soon, as Zim said, best not wait or you may not get the chance.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Cafe Salamera
    6653 N. Clark St
    Chicago, IL
    773-764-7210
    M-Sat 11am to 9pm
    Sunday 11am -8:30
    Monday closed

    La Unica
    1515 W Devon Ave
    Chicago, IL 60660
    773-274-7788
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - September 10th, 2005, 6:09 pm
    Post #5 - September 10th, 2005, 6:09 pm Post #5 - September 10th, 2005, 6:09 pm
    I ate at Salamera early in the spring with a co-worker who's related to the owners. They'd only been open a week at the time. It looks as though they have really expanded their menu. I might add that, in addition to Gary's pictures, the jibarito is one of the better ones I have had in the city.
  • Post #6 - September 10th, 2005, 6:17 pm
    Post #6 - September 10th, 2005, 6:17 pm Post #6 - September 10th, 2005, 6:17 pm
    YourPalWill wrote:I might add that, in addition to Gary's pictures, the jibarito is one of the better ones I have had in the city.

    Will,

    Thanks for the heads up, we were going to order a jibarito, but, as Cafe Salamera had just reopened after a short hiatus, they did not have them. I'll be sure to try the jibaritos next time, which will be quite soon.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #7 - September 11th, 2005, 7:05 pm
    Post #7 - September 11th, 2005, 7:05 pm Post #7 - September 11th, 2005, 7:05 pm
    I tried to go there today (Sunday) but it was closed. I saw a for-sale ad in the window, which doesn't make it's future sound too promising. Shame, the pictures looked amazing.
  • Post #8 - September 12th, 2005, 7:07 am
    Post #8 - September 12th, 2005, 7:07 am Post #8 - September 12th, 2005, 7:07 am
    From our meal there last week, it didn't seem like she was gonna close it up that soon. Remember it's just her and one cook manning the operation and she's a single mom, so that may complicate when they are open. I wouldn't write them off as shuttered just yet, but I would call before coming from any distance.

    Fortunately, if you are in the mood for seafood, islas marias is on the same block, and if you want a sandwich, the tortas at taq. los molcajetes very nearby are pretty decent as well. So there are backup choices available
  • Post #9 - September 14th, 2005, 8:41 am
    Post #9 - September 14th, 2005, 8:41 am Post #9 - September 14th, 2005, 8:41 am
    G Wiv wrote:I plan on going back to Cafe Salamera soon, as Zim said, best not wait or you may not get the chance.

    LTH,

    Unfortunately, Cafe Salamera seems to be permanently closed.

    Cafe Salamera 9.13.05
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Cafe Salamera
    6653 N. Clark St
    Chicago, IL
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #10 - September 14th, 2005, 2:17 pm
    Post #10 - September 14th, 2005, 2:17 pm Post #10 - September 14th, 2005, 2:17 pm
    Wow. We went last Thursday to pick up some food to take home. It was as good as the first time. Norka, the owner, was so pleasant to speak with as we waited for our food. She gave us a taste of the purple corn drink and a cookie, both of which were delicious. I mentioned that her restaurant was being talked about on this board. My companion and I agreed that the neighborhood benefited from her restaurant. She said that her uncle (?), who was the muse in the kitchen, had to return to Argentina, but would be back in November. I didn't get the sense she would be closing the doors permanently a few days later.

    -The GP
  • Post #11 - September 14th, 2005, 7:48 pm
    Post #11 - September 14th, 2005, 7:48 pm Post #11 - September 14th, 2005, 7:48 pm
    I just had dinner at Cafe Salamera. I did not know they were closing, and did not notice the poster on the window (I got there around 630 so it was getting a little dark). The owner seemed really scattered... (took a while to get the food and the check...) but the Ceviche was good (really spicey hot!!). I will be sad if they close.
    Elie
  • Post #12 - September 14th, 2005, 9:11 pm
    Post #12 - September 14th, 2005, 9:11 pm Post #12 - September 14th, 2005, 9:11 pm
    ett094 wrote:I just had dinner at Cafe Salamera. I did not know they were closing, and did not notice the poster on the window (I got there around 630 so it was getting a little dark). The owner seemed really scattered... (took a while to get the food and the check...) but the Ceviche was good (really spicey hot!!). I will be sad if they close.
    Elie


    Do you mean today? Could they still be open afterall? :?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #13 - September 15th, 2005, 9:30 am
    Post #13 - September 15th, 2005, 9:30 am Post #13 - September 15th, 2005, 9:30 am
    I think there's a distinct possibility that it can be for sale while still operating - i.e. a poster advertising its availability does not necessarily mean it won't be open for business.

    When Gary and I ate there the other day she was getting new menus made up with dinner items, which I doubt she would be doing if she weren't planning on being open for a few more days at least
  • Post #14 - September 15th, 2005, 9:39 am
    Post #14 - September 15th, 2005, 9:39 am Post #14 - September 15th, 2005, 9:39 am
    I didn't think it was permanently closed just based on that, but its hours are clearly erratic (it should have been open and indeed the Open sign was even lit up when we stopped there on Tuesday). Fortunately, there are certainly good alternatives close by if you decide to check it out.
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  • Post #15 - September 15th, 2005, 3:23 pm
    Post #15 - September 15th, 2005, 3:23 pm Post #15 - September 15th, 2005, 3:23 pm
    yeah, as I mentioned above - its a good idea to call first, which is what I did before we ate there with Gary
  • Post #16 - September 15th, 2005, 3:30 pm
    Post #16 - September 15th, 2005, 3:30 pm Post #16 - September 15th, 2005, 3:30 pm
    It may be a little more stable now, we went there today and there was a new chef who was talking about more ambitious menus he had planned, including Peruvian goat on Sunday. It is still for sale, however. G Wiv will probably post more but in the meantime, your odds of going there and it being open have improved since earlier in the week.
    Last edited by Mike G on September 16th, 2005, 7:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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  • Post #17 - September 15th, 2005, 6:16 pm
    Post #17 - September 15th, 2005, 6:16 pm Post #17 - September 15th, 2005, 6:16 pm
    stevez wrote:
    ett094 wrote:I just had dinner at Cafe Salamera. I did not know they were closing, and did not notice the poster on the window (I got there around 630 so it was getting a little dark). The owner seemed really scattered... (took a while to get the food and the check...) but the Ceviche was good (really spicey hot!!). I will be sad if they close.
    Elie


    Do you mean today? Could they still be open afterall? :?


    Yes. I did go yesterday night. The restaurant was empty, but I did not make much of it. I had read the thread here that it might close soon, so I thought I would head there before they shut the door.
  • Post #18 - September 16th, 2005, 7:33 am
    Post #18 - September 16th, 2005, 7:33 am Post #18 - September 16th, 2005, 7:33 am
    Mike G wrote: but in the meantime, your odds of going there and it being open have improved since earlier in the work.

    Yep, Cafe Salamera has reopened with a new chef. The chef, whose name I did not catch, is a retired culinary instructor and, from all outward appearances, is enthusiastic and talented. As Mike mentioned, the chef was telling us of his plans to have Peruvian style goat and beans on Sunday.

    We tried a few specials from the daily board.
    Image

    Tamal Peruano, which had a hint of chili in the masa.
    Image

    Shrimp Empanada, Cancha in foreground.
    Image

    Jibarito, which was quite good, though I prefer the crisper plantain, more garlic, less mayo style of Borinquen.
    Image

    Chicha Morada, which they did not have the last time we were there, was enjoyable, tasting surprisingly, as Steve Z said, like Jamaica (Hibiscus) Agua Fresca, though it's main ingredient is purple corn.
    Image

    The only slight down note was Cafe Salamera's terrific Chicharron con camotes (fried pork sandwich w/sweet potato) was, unlike last week's version when it contained beautiful chunks of pork belly, see picture above. Today's version was made with lean pork loin. Norka said there were a few complaints, from non Peruvians, that the pork was too fatty/greasy. Norka said she is going back to the Peruvian way of a fattier cut, pork belly/shoulder etc., and I, for one, am glad.

    Chicharron con camotes
    Image

    We also shared a Salamera and ceviche, both pictured above, which were equally as good, in other words very good, as last week.

    While eating we had the pleasure of running into Amata and Sophie Coe Prize winner Antonious. Steve and Mike, who had been having a heated discussion as to whether the shrimp empanada was house-made, home-made, kitchen-made, studio apartment-made, immediately engaged Antonious in discussion and off-they-went. :)

    Lunch was very good, but, as has been said, this is a restaurant teetering on the edge. Chicago voting rules apply, Go Early, Go Often.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Cafe Salamera
    6653 N. Clark St
    Chicago, IL
    773-764-7210

    Borinquen Restaurant
    1720 N. California Ave
    Chicago, IL
    773-227-6038
    Last edited by G Wiv on September 16th, 2005, 7:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #19 - September 16th, 2005, 7:46 am
    Post #19 - September 16th, 2005, 7:46 am Post #19 - September 16th, 2005, 7:46 am
    I echo what GWiv said about our visit yesterday and I am looking forward to my next visit where (hopefully) I'll be able to try a Chicharron con camotes made with a fattier cut of pork. It was a tad bit dry due to the use of pork loin. As Gary said, both Norke and the new chef assured us that they would be going back to pork belly as of their next pork order.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #20 - September 16th, 2005, 7:58 am
    Post #20 - September 16th, 2005, 7:58 am Post #20 - September 16th, 2005, 7:58 am
    ...And when Amata and I turned to look through the window of Café Salamera, lo and behold, there were Stevez, Mike G, and Gary W. We went in anyway...
    :shock: :P :D
    Actually, it was a most welcome surprise and, though S, M & G had finished their lunch, we were happy that they stayed a while to chat with us.

    We ordered just a couple of sandwiches, namely the pork, which had, as Gary said, been adapted for Gringoid tastes and so was a little dry -- Norka did promise the traditional fattier option shall return, as G Wiv noted above, and that I look forward too, since the ONLY (slight) downside of this sandwich was the dryness of the meat -- otherwise, it was very tasty, with the hot sweet potatoes adding a really wonderful element to taste and texture. The beef sandwich 'Salamera' was also really delicious.

    The cancha is frighteningly addictive; on the other hand, my Inca Cola (first time I tried it) was interesting but pretty weird (as Mike G. said, it tastes rather like bubble gum).

    Anyway, we're glad we went and will return.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #21 - September 17th, 2005, 9:54 am
    Post #21 - September 17th, 2005, 9:54 am Post #21 - September 17th, 2005, 9:54 am
    A few more pictures from Cafe Salamera on Thursday. Ceviche:

    Image

    The highly addictive corn nuts:

    Image

    The Peruvian jibarito:

    Image

    The pork (loin, not belly) sandwich:

    Image

    La Salamera, the steak sandwich, probably my favorite that day:

    Image
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  • Post #22 - September 17th, 2005, 12:54 pm
    Post #22 - September 17th, 2005, 12:54 pm Post #22 - September 17th, 2005, 12:54 pm
    I got back from Salamera about an hour ago and I'm already looking forward to my next trip back. This place is phenomenal. The beef empanada (filled with beef, olive, raisin, egg) had a beautiful crispy crust and moist, tasty filling.

    The fried pork sandwich with onions and sweet potato was amazing. Soft bread, slight taste of lime and cilantro. I put a little of the hot sauce on to make it perfect. I guess the hot sauce is jalapeno, garlic and cilantro mixed with a little olive oil -- great flavor and not that spicy. This might be the best sandwich I have ever had.

    I tasted my friend's Salamera sandwich, which was also excellent, but I liked my fried pork better.

    Flan is excellent. Norka also brought us the purple corn dessert which is apparently similar to the drink. It had a consistentcy somewhat similar to jello (but not as gelatinous) with chunks of fruit and a little cinnamon -- outstanding. I guess they also put some sweet potato flour in it, which I've never heard. Norka recommended the jibarito -- can't wait to go back.

    She mentioned she needs to sell the place because it's very expensive to run it. I hope she can make it -- the food is amazing and she could not be any friendlier. It's very sad when you see Subways opening up and surviving everywhere and then a place like this opens up and can't compete. I guess it's a word of mouth thing too so I'm telling everyone I know. If you haven't been, don't miss it.
  • Post #23 - September 17th, 2005, 2:00 pm
    Post #23 - September 17th, 2005, 2:00 pm Post #23 - September 17th, 2005, 2:00 pm
    I'm gald to hear that they are still open. I'll stop in this weekend.
  • Post #24 - September 17th, 2005, 2:05 pm
    Post #24 - September 17th, 2005, 2:05 pm Post #24 - September 17th, 2005, 2:05 pm
    BR wrote: It's very sad when you see Subways opening up and surviving everywhere and then a place like this opens up and can't compete. I guess it's a word of mouth thing too so I'm telling everyone I know. If you haven't been, don't miss it.


    Amen.

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #25 - September 17th, 2005, 5:12 pm
    Post #25 - September 17th, 2005, 5:12 pm Post #25 - September 17th, 2005, 5:12 pm
    Went to Selamara this afternoon--we had the Selamara sandwich, the pork sandwich, and some ceviche. The pork sandwich was great--the mix of red onion, lime, sweet potato and pork was heavenly, and the bread was crusty but not tough. The steak sandwich was good, but I think it's time I admitted to myself that I just don't like cooked onions. We also shared a mango shake (with milk not water) and it was refreshing and not too sweet.

    While we were there the table next to us told the gal at the counter (who was very nice) that they had heard about the place from LTHforum--so whoever you are, I'm sorry that we had the last pork sandwich and deprived fellow LTHers of that culinary treat!
  • Post #26 - September 18th, 2005, 9:38 am
    Post #26 - September 18th, 2005, 9:38 am Post #26 - September 18th, 2005, 9:38 am
    had they returned to the pork belly pieces or was it still the think pork loin?

    I picked up a couple sandwiches to go friday and while tasty, I like belly more than loin. Its nice to see Norka getting a little more business, it would be a true shame for this place to die.
  • Post #27 - September 18th, 2005, 9:56 am
    Post #27 - September 18th, 2005, 9:56 am Post #27 - September 18th, 2005, 9:56 am
    They said something vague about shopping for belly rather than loin this weekend. So could be back to belly already.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #28 - September 18th, 2005, 10:23 am
    Post #28 - September 18th, 2005, 10:23 am Post #28 - September 18th, 2005, 10:23 am
    It was belly on Saturday (yesterday).
  • Post #29 - September 18th, 2005, 11:45 am
    Post #29 - September 18th, 2005, 11:45 am Post #29 - September 18th, 2005, 11:45 am
    Well I guess it's time to de-lurk. I was the one sitting at the table on Sat that missed out on the last pork sandwich. I went with my wife and my mom (visiting from out of town) and we had planned on getting the steak sandwich and the pork sandwich and splitting them. When they ran out of the pork we tried the Jibarito (at their suggestion) instead. It was VERY good. Steak, avocado, onions and cheese sandwiched between two flattened fried plantains (savory not sweet) with LOTS of garlic. I loved it though it is a bit messy (everything tends to squeeze out between the plaintains, kinda like a homemade ice cream sandwich tends to).

    All in all, we had the steak sandwich (which was good, but not so different from others I've had that I would make a special trip--Iraszu's is pretty similar I think), beef and spinach empanadas (the beef has some raisin and egg, the spinach is mixed with cheese--we liked them both, but the spinach wins out), the Jibarito and some Cafe Con Leche. Do yourself a favor and get the smallest Cafe Con Leche as the 16 oz was too much (at least for all of us--we could've split one). I think the highlight was the Jibarito, which I had heard of, but never before tried, followed by the very tasty, not at all greasy, empanadas. But, I'll definitely be back to try the pork sandwich. The owner suggested to phone first if making a special trip for the pork.

    I hope more people come in (someone put it on Check Please or in the Reader or Timeout) as it sounded like business was very spotty.

    And thanks to LTHForum for turning me on the this place. Very pleasant simple atmosphere and great lunch food. If this was down in Wicker Park they'd make a killing (finally an alternative to all the taco places!).

    --Dirk--
    Dirk van den Heuvel
  • Post #30 - September 19th, 2005, 11:49 am
    Post #30 - September 19th, 2005, 11:49 am Post #30 - September 19th, 2005, 11:49 am
    I'm familiar with an overabundance of taco places -- North Clark Street in Rogers Park certainly has its choices! (Not that I'm complaining...)

    I'm glad to hear that people are getting to Cafe Salamera. I am really hoping the restaurant succeeds. We tried to do our part Saturday evening, but it was closed. (I understand the demands of work and family, but the erratic hours won't help business.) So we continued down the block to the very empty Islas Las Marias. The pile of messy, yummy shrimp were a small consolation for missing out on the Salamera steak sandwich.

    -The GP

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