Restuarant: Habana Libre |
Address: 1440 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL |
Phone: 312.243.3303 |
Which is it? A Cuban Restaurant or the Mess Hall for Ringling Bros.
I recently came to the revelation that my Grandfather (a.k.a. PaPa) was a fantastic cook. His cooking ability was not attributable to the best recipes or a pantry full of spices. Nah, the man had another skill up in his repertoire: patience. When cooking for the fam, PaPa’s prep consisted of waking up at 3am, strolling down to the pigpen and slaughtering lil’ Wilber. By 5am, he would have the spit going and that distinct aroma of swine would fill the plantation like herron in Harlem. PaPa didn’t give a fuck if people got hungry and the side dishes got cold. The meat was always to be cooked correct, even if it wasn’t ready until 10pm.
Nowadays, when we cook, its all about 4-minute rice and Punjab Choley in a fucking pouch. Kids don’t even wait for water to boil anymore.
Where am I going with this? La Habana superimposed in Chicago: Habana Libre (they even spell the shit with a “b” shunn!). Whats their secret? These kats emancipate their meats like Kunta Kente by significantly extending cooking time.
Now don’t go hollerin at George Bush Jr., but a few years back, I made the trek down to the beautiful isle of Cuba. For accommodation, we stayed at casas particulares, which are essentially B&Bs. For meals, you can select from a few options that your hosts predetermine. Straight up, during my two week jaunt, I honestly don’t recall placing anything in my mouth that could potentially compare to Habana Libre’s food.
Break open a Tecate and lets get down to it young bucks:
After glancing over the menu, we opted to begin with the “sampler platter” which featured fried plantains, fried yuca, beef empanadas, and croquettes. Whoa kid! The empananas and croquettes were crazy good…Moist and succulent with a proper meat/dough ratio. If forced to choose a favorite, Id probably pick everythang on my mutherfuckin plate doused with that garlic sauce you see in the right side of the picture. Why? Because that’s just how we do.
Prior to visiting HL, I read mixed reviews on the innanet about their Cuban sandwiches. I have to say that I just don’t understand all the fuss. Take a long Care Bear Stare at the Ropa Vieja (pictured below). What are your eyes drawn to? If you were thinking about the french bread, you need to hop on over to this Ninny Ass Blog cuz Chicago Gluttons don’t play that shit.
My point is, its not really about what type of bread is utilized; it is about what is inside of it. And the contents inside this sandwich were fire. The shredded beef chunks were cooked slow-and-low in cumin and communistic cans of tomato sauce. HL added spunk to the happy food party by packing in slices of onion as well as red and green peppers.
After consuming the sandy, our main course arrived, further complimenting HL’s “Take Some Fucking Time With Your Meat” theme.
Um, pretty much dude. The Oxtail was screaming for a mouth tutorial and I obliged. Again, the tomato, garlic, onion, cumin and coriander seed sopa served as the foundation of the dish. Anything that sits in an oven this long needs to have something substantial to lean on. Fidel and Raul’s regime propelled my plate consumption something fierce. The fat was hidden in the tail cuts (yall know that’s where the flavor is at) and I found myself placing whole bones in my mouth, sucking away any potential bovine lifeforms.
Hey yo, don’t go thinking that this progression only applies to meat products…didn’t Karl Marx say that there’s something for everyone? HL’s menu also features a significant portion of options for you pescatarian heads out there.
I know this recession has got that billfold blowing tumbleweeds, but no worries. The restaurant is BYO, so fill a brown bag with some clankies (bottles) before dining and put those savings in your mattress. There was so much menu left untouched that next time Chicago Gluttons makes a guest appearance at HL, we’ll be bringing our Somalian sized hunger.