Friday was a beautiful day for baseball, so I rang up a pal and called an audible for 1060 West Addison. A little street hustle, combined with some divine providence landed us two bleacher seats at face value, while slackjawed tourists ponied up twelve bucks apiece for their standing room only tickets. Mark Prior was pitching, the alpha team of the Senior Circuit Atlanta Braves were in town, and I liked our chances. As is often the case at Wrigley, things went the other way, but a good time and several Bud Lights were had by all.
Wobbling west on Addison, my pal was hungry and I can always eat, so I asked her if she's ever had a Cubano. She remarked that she had, once in college, but thought that he was actually a Dominican. I set her straight on the concept as we headed off toward the Amabassador Caffe. A quick stop at the liquor store across the street, and we were soon seated and sipping cold Coronas while awaiting a Cubano and a jibarito that I ordered for curiosity's sake.
Wishing to put my friend at ease with an unfamiliar cuisine, we began with empanadas, which we were available only in ground beef. She loved the unique seasoning and pastry shell. I thought there was too much "corner"--dry crust--and not enough center, but they served their purpose and we soon moved on to the sammies.
The jibarito was a drag--tough, bland and gray round steak between equally bland plantain planks. Borinquen has nothing to worry about from these guys. After we had reached mandibular exertion, we pushed the jibarito aside and made for the Cubano, which was as good as ever. Still not in the class of South Florida, but a very nice approximation, and certainly the best of the breed here in Chicago, in my opinion. The quality of the pork was as good as the jibarito's beef was poor. The condiment proportion was correct, and the bread was toothsome but delicate. Feeling somewhat overserved, I donated the remaining Coronas to the house, and finished things up with a spectacular cafe con leche in an oversized and beautifully crafted mug.
Post-gamers should keep this place in mind, and its proximity to one of the best bars in Chicago (the Ten Cat) should make this a more frequent destination for me than it is.
3605 N. Ashland Ave.
Ten Cat Tavern
3931 N. Ashland Ave.