Monday, August 29, 2022

Borinquen Lounge

-Grubbing in Chicago  
Home of the Jibarito  

Today's post is a flashback to old Chicago. There's over 100,000 Puerto Ricans that live here. Their migration began in the late 1940's and really took off during the 1960's when a majority of them settled in neighborhoods like Lincoln Park and Humboldt Park. The latter of which would become the center for Puerto Rican food and culture in Chicago. It's there where the jibaritos story gets started. 

Locals Favorite in North Center 

It was back in the mid 90's when local restaurateur Juan "Peter" Figueroa introduced the jibarito at Borinquen Restaurant, a Puerto Rican hotspot in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. He did so after reading about a sandwich in Puerto Rico that substituted plantains for bread. The origin stories of dishes like this are always murky but there's no doubt Borinquen Restaurant, which at the time was on California, is responsible for it's popularity today. Jibaritos are found at every Puerto Rican restaurant in town and thus there's lots of options. Even non-Puerto Rican spots put them on the menu. When Borinquen closed it's Humboldt Park location the family decided to open a different spot in North Center that's now called Borinquen Lounge. I visited for the first time in years a while back and I'm happy to report the jibaritos are as good as ever. Thin strips of tender steak are paired with lettuce, tomato, mayo and cheese which goes in between two smashed plantains that are fried and used as the delivery vehicle for this epic sandwich. This is likely the best example in town, they're not all that different from spot to spot, but Borinquen serves theirs with crisp plantains with no traces of oil and lots of garlic sauce. It's kind of like they've been making them longer than everyone else. 

Steak Jibarito at Borinquen Lounge 

Borinquen Lounge
3811 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 442-8001

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