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Quest for Puerto Rican Part 3: La Cocina Criolla (La Cocina del Galarza)

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Quest for Puerto Rican Part 3: La Cocina Criolla (La Cocina del Galarza)

Mike G | May 27, 2003 10:47 PM

Since there's a mammoth two-part post on Ecuadoran, Dominican, who knows what, I'll just make the latest chapter of my Quest for Puerto Rican brief.

La Cocina Criolla (or as the menu calls it, La Cocina del Galarza, which is the owner's name) sets off a lot of RST-style yuppie-ethnic-restaurant detectors. It's the closest Puerto Rican restaurant to the advance of yuppieville (just west of Western on Fullerton), the owners used to have a Mexican restaurant in Lincoln Park, there are big writeups by the Reader and even WBBM in the window, and the TV was showing English-language programming (People's Court during most of my visit). You would be forgiven for suspecting that this is The Designated Puerto Rican Restaurant, the Ann Sather, the Salvador's, the Moti Mahal of PR food.

You would be wrong. I ordered goat because it had been mentioned in one of the reviews on the window. The review also talked about a particular interest in the Spanish influences on PR food. The goat-- baby goat chunks in a tomato-wine sauce, with potato and bits of green olive-- was fall off the bone tender and succulent, the Spanish rice fluffy and delectable, the combination totally satisfying, one of the most happy and hearty meals I've had in a good little while. There is a long menu with many authentic-looking dishes on it; if they are all prepared with comparable care then this is a find. If only they wouldn't watch TV in English.

La Cocina Criolla
2418 W. Fullerton Ave.
(773) 235-7377

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