This weekend my dining experiences were wide-ranging from Japanese, to South American, to Ukrainian. The most memorable meal was at a small Equadorean restaurant called La Humita. I give it a rave review.
I tried two appetizers, both of which were simple, delicate and tasty. First was the namesake offering, la humita, a corn and cheese pastry (like a tamale, but not exactly) steamed in corn husks. It was soft, fragrant, and slightly sweet. Next was a plate of sweet ripe plantains, served with little cubes of cheese a very nice combination.
I sampled two main dishes: the lamb chops, which were served with a tangy sauce with perfectly-roasted vegetables, and another specialty of the house, potato pancakes topped with a tangy sauce and served with South American chorizo (spicy!), avocado and fried eggs. I got the impression that this was a signature dish and I definitely recommend it highly.
Dessert was very, very nice (the best part? Perhaps). There were but two choices, both made in-house by a member of the owner's family: a lovely cheesecake made with a very tangy citrus fruit that I learned is called a naranjilla (with an unexpected, but very appropriate, chocolate crust) and a lovely steamed pancake studded with raisins.
The service was excellent, and the owner made a point of coming over to find out how we liked the food and answer our questions about ingredients and preparation methods. Its BYO, and the waiter was ready with glasses and a corkscrew the minute we sat down.
As for atmosphere, it's a comfortable but unassuming storefront with plate glass windows for viewing the street scenery. The focus is definitely on the food, not the decor -- which is certainly not a bad thing.
In all, I had an excellent meal at La Humita that bears repeating. And its the only Equadorean restaurant I know of in Chicago. I saw lots of tables filled with people who appeared to be VERY pleased with their meals, so I have a feeling this place will become a destination for many.
3466 N. Pulaski