Caribbean in Chicago
After spending a wonderful 9 nights in Puerto Rico just last week I decided its time to share with the readers, one of Chicago's best Puerto Rican joints. Not only is the Puerto Rican comfort food top notch at this hip little spot in Humboldt Park but so is the atmosphere and total dining experience. I hit up Papa's pretty often especially when the craving for chicken and a warm welcomed meal comes along. Its owned by a really nice couple and has been a mainstay in Chicago's biggest Puerto Rican neighborhood for a while now. Its a pretty good bet that it is loved by anyone who's ever been, including myself.
a popular stop in Chicago's' Humboldt Park neighborhood
As soon as you walk into the smaller sized restaurant along Division ave. You are hit with a wonderful smell of cooking rotisserie chickens that are crackling away that sit in diners view and then also all the other goodness being cooked up in back. Its a great place to dine in or takeout and is a BYOB. During the warm weather months there is outdoor seating and there's always a steady crowd of people who cant get enough of Papa's pollo chon aka the best roast chicken in the city. The birds are heavily coated in a garlic mojo mixture and as you can see in the pic below they are always cooking away with the ones near done on top and the lesser done ones at the bottom, with all others in between. This chicken Papa's got going is the epitome of Puerto Rican roadfood.
Papa's Pollo Chon roasting away
The menu at Papa's is pretty extensive with classic Puerto Rican comfort food. So with that you got a quite a few pork based dinners to go along with their specialties of roasted chicken and Chicago's famous jibarito sandwiches. Its hard for me to pick one jibarito as the best out there but Papa's without a doubt has one of the best. The sides are just another strong part of Papa's food game. The garlic laced tostones are one of my favorite sides from anywhere and the arroz y gandules are as good as it gets and full of flavor. Chicago has a strong Puerto Rican culture and Papa's fulfills them with their comfort food.
Papa's is loved by Chicago's local Puerto Rican community
I have myself a real hard time deciding between the specialties of Papa's when it comes to ordering. Like I mention above the chicken is in a class all its own when its comes to that of the roasted variety, but...I also love jibarito sandwiches and Papa's makes a killer version. If you haven't had or don't know of what a jibarito is then you should check back to this story HERE for more info on how they came to be. In a city like Chicago, the steak jibarito fits in so very well. Whats not to like about two plantains that are flattened and then doused in garlic and fried which is then used as the bread? The most popular meat of choice in jibaritos is steak although you can get chicken and other types too. The sandwich is then loaded with lettuce, onions, tomato, cheese and mayo and one will usually layer hot sauce on theirs to top it all off.
Papa's Steak Jibarito
But what about Papa's pollo chon? the birds that are roasting away and in plain sight right as you enter and the smell from the heavily rubbed garlic birds hits you. Its almost impossible not to order some. The birds are roasted to a crispy crackly perfection and the skin is addictive. Although I have never had what would be called dry chicken from here, some people feel its too dry but this is a product of Latin American cooked chickens. It creates that super skin and is also meant to be bathed in their wonderful green hot sauce and or more garlic sauce. The meat falls off the bone with ease. Sometime I just have to get a chicken dinner to take home and eat later in the day and or the next day. This meal is in the steal of a deal department.
Papa's Pollo Chon Dinner with Spanish Rice and Garlic Bread
You may not call chicken tacos a side dish but they are for me when I go to Papa's. I think these are some of if not the best chicken tacos in the city. They just take a corn tortilla and fill it with their chopped roasted chicken meat and add in lettuce, tomato and their astounding sauteed onions and homemade green salsa, which both take the taco to a greater stage.
Papa's Chicken Taco
So when one wants to get a little feeling of a tropical vibe be it in the dead of winter or middle of summer then Papa's Cache Sabroso is one of your best bets. Its the type of place that is preached about on here at S'C&C. Great authentic food that is enjoyed by all with amazing kind hearted service and love put into both things that make it a celebrated neighborhood restaurant.
a chicken leg from Papa's
Papa's Cache Sabroso
2517 West Division Street
Chicago, IL 60622-2805