The Best Puerto Rican Restaurants in Chicago

The jibarito at Ponce Restaurant
The jibarito at Ponce Restaurant | Courtesy of Ponce Restaurant
Photo of Tim Marklew
18 June 2017

There are many long-standing restaurants and cafés across the city that offer authentic and traditional Puerto Rican food, but Chicago’s Puerto Rican food scene was undoubtedly put on the map in 1996 when restaurateur Juan “Peter” Figueroa introduced the jibarito, a sandwich sensation that has become a staple on menus across the Windy City. Here are the best places to find one, and many other great dishes from the Caribbean island.

Las Delicias de Puerto Rico

Restaurant, Central American
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For generous portions of traditional, home-cooked Puerto Rican food and friendly service, it’s hard to beat Las Delicias de Puerto Rico in Belmont Cragin. It may be a no-frills setting, but you won’t mind one bit once you try the signature jibarito, a sandwich made with fried green plantains instead of bread. The extensive menu also features such standards as alcapurrias, fritters filled with ground meat, and arroz con gandules, a dish of rice, pigeon peas, and pork.

La Bomba

Restaurant, Central American, Caribbean
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In super hip Logan Square, La Bomba offers a modern interpretation of classic Puerto Rican dishes in a simple counter service space. It’s had a loyal following since it began as a food truck in Humboldt Park, with customers returning time and again for fresh seafood, including shrimp and octopus salads, meat stews and sandwiches loaded with fried pork, breaded steak, and blood sausage. Carry out and online ordering is also available.

Ponce Restaurant

Restaurant, Central American, Caribbean
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The jibarito at Ponce Restaurant
The jibarito at Ponce Restaurant | Courtesy of Ponce Restaurant

The owners of Ponce are passionate about sharing the food they grew up on with their customers, promising an authentic experience and a cozy dining area that will make you feel right at home. The menu features bacalao, Puerto Rican fish stew; pollo guisado, a chicken stew; and pasteles, a Puerto Rican equivalent of a tamale. It’s open seven days a week, and there’s always a buzzing crowd of regulars.

Nellie’s Restaurant

Restaurant, Central American, Caribbean, Spanish, $$$
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If Puerto Rican for breakfast or brunch is your thing, you can’t go wrong at Nellie’s Restaurant. The breakfast menu offers both American and Puerto Rican standards as well as fusions such as the Nellie’s Special, which is an open-faced omelette served with sweet plantains and coconut oatmeal. It’s one of a number of Puerto Rican places along Division Street near Humboldt Park, but at the weekend, it has the only Puerto Rican breakfast buffet in the city.

Papa’s Cache Sabroso

Restaurant, Central American, Caribbean
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The first Cache Sabroso opened in Cermak in the 1970s. Several locations later, Papa’s Cache is now in the heart of Humboldt Park. A casual family-owned-and-operated restaurant, it may be small, but it’s often brimming with hungry diners. The signature dish is the pollo chon, rotisserie chicken marinated in their secret sauce, but its jibarito is also highly rated. Be aware that it’s BYOB.

La Cocina Boricua de la Familia Galarza

Restaurant, Central American, Caribbean
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The jibarito at Ponce Restaurant
The jibarito at Ponce Restaurant | Courtesy of Ponce Restaurant

On the border between Logan Square and Bucktown is another long-standing, family-run Puerto Rican joint. La Cocina Boricua de la Familia Galarza offers a large menu of traditional and great value food, made and served with passion and care. To get a real taste, combine a number of the tapas-sized appetizers, such as mofongo (mashed fried plantains), empanadas, and guachitos, a salami-like sausage served with guacamole and plantain.

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