TASTE ALBANY PARK
Albany Park offers some of the most delicious and diverse dining options in Chicago. Most of our restaurants are relaxed, family-owned spots. Whether you’re coming to Port of Entry from near or far, here are some favorite places as selected by APTP youth artists.
Reviewed by Tamara Gallegos
WHERE: 3026 West Montrose
ONE LINE: Stunning setting, a home-like vibe, amazing food.
THE FOOD: When my guest and I arrived, we were greeted by an amazing aroma. We turned around and noticed meatballs in one of the waiters’ hands – we knew for certain what we wanted to order. The meatballs arrived in a skillet and smelled wonderful. They were covered in sweet tomato sauce that set them a part from other meatballs I’ve had and I would highly recommend them to any who come to Angelo’s Wine Bar. The lasagna also came in a skillet with fresh basil on top, and it smelled amazing. The portions are big enough to share.
THE VIBE: Angelo’s has a café-like appearance with seating both outside and indoors. Indoors, the lighting was stunning and complemented the furniture perfectly. There are TVs positioned above the chairs in the back that show vintage Italian movies. I loved the outdoor eating area, which had benches and lights strung up. As we were finishing, the enormous windows had been raised, which was really a lovely touch given that the sun was setting.
Birreria el Texcal
Reviewed by Aylin Esquivel
WHERE: 3700 West Lawrence
ONE LINE: Delicious and excellent food in a lively, artistic and pleasant environment.
THE FOOD: I really enjoyed the two birria quesadillas with rice and beans. The meat was very tender and flavorful. The amount of cheese was just right. The quesadillas were crispy and savory. The beans had some melted cheese on top that enhanced their flavor, and the rice was prepared well. The entire dish was beautifully presented. The barbacoa grande was served in a consommé (broth). The consommé had just the right amount of spiciness to give it extra flavor with cilantro and onion as well. The beef was very tender. Because it was presented in a clay bowl that made me think of home, the plating was quite memorable. All in all, I really enjoyed my meal since it made me think of the meals my mother cooks for me when I’m sick.
THE VIBE: The restaurant’s exterior was quite appealing to me. You notice the bright color from the street. The restaurant’s interior is also incredibly vibrant. There are numerous plants as well as cultural accents, including a sarape banner and religious candles. Given that it was a Thursday night, the restaurant wasn’t particularly busy or loud. In addition to my mother and me, there was another family and a group of teenagers. Overall, the atmosphere of the restaurant is truly soothing and cozy, with a very artistic and distinctive feel.
Reviewed by Ari Salgado
WHERE: 3120 W Montrose Ave
ONE LINE: I’ve never seen any restaurant do rotisserie chicken the way they do it and the smoothies themselves are something to go back for.
THE FOOD: The mango smoothie was delicious. It was really creamy, it wasn’t too sweet, you could tell it was made with real mangos and there was a water or milk option making it versatile. It reminded me of the mango paletas I had as a child from the paletero man. The garlic chicken was absolutely amazing and the portion was huge. The plate came with yuka, potatoes and plantains. The potatoes were steamed to perfection. Brasa Roja is famous for their sauce and it truly lived up to its hype. I was putting it on everything including the potatoes. The rotisserie chicken was delicious. The arepa was also incredible. I had never tasted anything like it. It was naturally sweet from the corn and the cheese was light (mild, not salty or insanely potent), perfectly melted and there was just the right amount. They reminded me of home. I’m very picky with beans but these were seasoned just right and comforting – they reminded me of home.
THE VIBE: I walked in to a tropical decor that was warm and not intimidating. There were murals of doors, every door being a different color. The ceiling was painted like a sky and there were roof tiles to make it seem like you were in a house which was adorable. The tables were a great distance apart so it didn’t feel crowded. There were mostly older Latinos and families which is a sign of authenticity and a sign of community. It wasn’t extremely noisy, and no loud music.
Reviewed by Joseph Morco
WHERE: 3254 W. Montrose
ONE LINE: Cozy, warm, inviting, affordable, zen, diverse – definitely try one of their drinks!
THE FOOD: As an avid Thai food lover, I immediately knew I wanted to try their Pad See Eiw. When it came out, I knew the dish was going to be amazing. The tofu cubes had slight areas of crisp and the noodles were covered in the savory sauce. I appreciated the amount of vegetables in the dish and found the broccoli to be my favorite part. Some restaurants make pad see eiw very salty, but Chim Thai Cuisine had a perfect balance of saltiness and savoriness. My friend Sophia ordered a lychee fruit freeze, which I highly recommend. It came in a mason jar – very very pretty. Sophia said it tasted like the lychee found in Ecuador.
THE VIBE: A mix of families and young adults eating with their friends. A very friendly environment.
Great Sea Restaurant
Reviewed by Tamara Gallegos
WHERE: 3253 W. Lawrence
ONE LINE: Quick service, astounding food – make sure you bring a friend because of how big the portions are – something for everyone, including vegetarians.
THE FOOD: The orange chicken was delicious, and the presentation was lovely, with additional orange sauce at the bottom of the bowl just in case. It tasted exquisite and had a sweet and subtle spice flavor. It also included a rice bowl, which was tasty and soft. The crab rangoon were arranged in a circular pattern that looked like a flower; they were incredibly crunchy with an amazing texture and a light taste.
THE VIBE: Absolutely stunning, home-like, and relatively peaceful. Overall, the vibe of the restaurant was modern yet authentic
Reviewed by Nichole Espineli
WHERE: 3532 W. Montrose
ONE LINE: Right across the street from Port of Entry, this is a favorite pre-show and post-show with artists working on the show. NOTE: CASH ONLY (ATM on site)
THE FOOD: Delicious! The mojarra al mojo de ajo is a whole fried tilapia covered with a yummy garlic sauce. A great dish if you LOVE garlic like I do. They have so many seafood options, which my friends loved. Our group tried the steak burrito, steak fajitas, langostinos estilo nayarit, and langostinos a la diabla. The portions are enormous! Port of Entry artists also swear by the quesadillas which have a thick and almost puffy tortilla rather than the usual thin tortilla for a quesadilla, making them a full meal rather than an appetizer. You can get them with any filling. The tacos are also a great option, especially if you want a quick meal.
THE VIBE: This place seems to always be packed so leave extra time if you are coming before a performance. They have karaoke some nights and other nights they have live music. When my friends and I were there, we wanted to get up and dance (some people do!). They also have a nice covered patio in the back of the restaurant and sidewalk seating in front of the restaurant. The staff is really friendly.
Mima’s Taste of Cuba
Reviewed by Ari Salgado
WHERE: 2925 W. Irving Park
ONE LINE: Comforting food, great vibes with something for everyone at any time of the day.
THE FOOD: The cafe con leche was sweet and smooth, with a nice balance between the coffee and milk. Cafe cubano was the perfect black coffee, not too strong with none of the burnt taste burnt you sometimes get. The sandwich de pollo was mouthwatering. The chicken was so juicy, it had the perfect amount of mayo, the bread was delicately toasted making it fluffy on the inside but with a crunch, and the vegetables on the sandwich felt fresh. The ropa vieja was tender and delicious. The sauce reminded me of my father’s barbacoa but in a delicious soup. It made me feel like I was at a family party .The carrots in the ropa vieja might be the best vegetables I’ve ever had. The beans and rice were a nice and simple complement to the meat..
THE VIBE: This restaurant is very colorful with murals everywhere including outside. It’s mostly pink and teal and really cute. There’s a beautiful outside seating arrangement. You can feel the family’s influence on the decor in the murals, family pictures, fairy lights and veladoras (religious candles). The music consisted of Bad Bunny and more traditional Cuban/Latin music. You could feel all the generations of the family that have worked at this restaurant. The workers obviously had a strong bond which brought great vibes to the restaurant. I saw a lot of abuelasa (grandmas) eating there making it feel like Mima’s recipes were definitely being honored.
Reviewed by Nichole Espineli
WHERE: 4701 N. Kedzie
ONE LINE: Sweet, fragrant, authentic, yummy, aromatic, flavorful
THE FOOD: Everything was so fragrant! The tea calmed my nerves and healed some things in my inner soul. When the food came out we were surprised at how big the portions were! I was very excited for our appetizer, the Tadig, which was buttery and crunchy at the same time. My friend and I shared the Chenjeh, joujeh, and koubideh. The rice and veggies made for a yummy combo. The dessert was so sweet – a little too sweet for me, but my friend enjoyed both the fragrance and the taste..
THE VIBE: Noon-O-Kabab looks fancy on the outside, but it was not intimidating at all. Inside, there were families celebrating and the laughter and smiles from their faces created a wonderful atmosphere. When the food came out their smiles got even bigger! Some people who came in did not even order food, they just came in and ordered drinks and started chatting – I felt like they were regulars to the restaurant and really enjoyed seeing how comfortable they were.
Taqueria San Juanitos
Reviewed by Nichole Espineli
WHERE: 4714 N. Kedzie
ONE LINE: An Albany Park staple – if you have not gone to San Juanitos, you have not really explored the food options of Albany Park
THE FOOD: Getting Taco Dinner is the way to go if you can not decide what to order. My friends and I always get it and are always happy. You can choose any variety of taco you want, with a side of rice and beans. The rice is made with corn and carrots which makes it savory and sweet at the same time. Another dish I love is the costillas de res (grilled short ribs) – the portions are great and the seasoning is spot on! With this dish you get rice and beans, a side salad, and tortillas. You cannot be disappointed and your hunger will always be satisfied here.
THE VIBE: Coming here always feels like a little walk down memory lane because this is one of the restaurants my friends and I would always go to on weekends or for a quick bite before we left for college. There’s always someone celebrating something in this restaurant and it’s always so nice to hear the laughter coming from happy people.
Reviewed by Sam Gallegos
WHERE: 4720 N. Kedzie
ONE LINE: Large variety of ramen, sushi, and boba in a welcoming space.
THE FOOD: From the beginning to the end, our visit was welcoming. I tried the roast oolong milk tea with tapioca, mango smoothie with tapioca, curry ramen, gyoza, and spicy garlic miso ramen. The mango smoothie was thick, fresh, and delightful and the tapioca had a satisfying texture. As for the ramen, it had slight spiciness and tender vegetables, noodles, and meat. As someone who loves spicy food, the food from this place satisfied my spicy craving in a way that other ramen places sometimes don’t.
THE VIBE: The staff that attended us was really friendly and patient. He kept coming back and checking in with us and advertised some of the most popular dishes. Whenever we asked for any food suggestions, he would recommend them and wouldn’t disappoint. All the food that we ordered was suggested by the staff and it was amazing and fresh. The friendly atmosphere that was created in the restaurant really makes me want to come back.