Café Ba Ba Reeba – A Chicago Tapas Bar

Chicago rivals the biggest food cities in America for best food. I’m talking New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. This is opinion, of course, but based off of my four-day culinary exploration, I’d be inclined to state this as fact.

From seafood to ice cream to tapas, I chowed down on some of the best tasting food I’ve ever had. What makes it so great is the fact that I remember it – the presentation, the flavors, and the smells! I didn’t feel like I ate nearly as much as I did thanks to the forty-five plus miles of walking during the long, holiday weekend.

A Chicago Tapas Bar that Doesn’t Disappoint

Café Ba Ba Reeba was one such establishment that stood out for some of that stellar food I mentioned above. I know America doesn’t quite get tapas, say the way the Spanish do, but Café Ba Ba Reeba comes pretty damn close. From simple shrimp sautéed in butter and loads of garlic to egg and potato on a toothpick to grilled octopus with crispy chickpeas and arugula, I didn’t take a single bite that I didn’t enjoy.

Chicago Tapas Bar, Café Ba Ba Reeba
Café Ba Ba Reeba Tapas Bar in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood

The service was fantastic and friendly, and the restaurant’s interior was unique. Several rooms with beautiful exposed brick walls and large mirrors gave the place a very sexy, but not too sexy, ambience. Brunch at Café Ba Ba Reeba worked like a well-oiled machine. This wasn’t their first time at the rodeo, per se. Okay, please excuse all of my very bad cliché analogies at the moment. What I’m trying to say is that this is the type of place I would go back to regularly. If I lived in Chicago, that is.

Outside of Chicago Tapas Bar, Café Ba Ba Reeba
Outside of Chicago’s Cafe Ba Ba Reeba

A Little Something for Everyone

Let’s talk about that octopus for a second, too. As a pescetarian, I can state that it is the one type of seafood I do feel bad eating. I obviously don’t feel bad enough because I still eat it, I admit. But, do any other pescetarians out there struggle with this? Octopus are such beautiful, intelligent creatures. I’d love to hear from my fellow pescetarians on this topic. And while we’re on the subject, Café Ba Ba Reeba’s grilled version was pretty much perfection to my palate.

Chicago Tapas Bar, Café Ba Ba Reeba Grilled Octopus
Grilled Octopus at Café Ba Ba Reeba

This Lincoln Park institution offers something for everyone. Their large menu makes it quite easy to decide as they’ve marked certain items with the chef’s favorites. Um, of course, I want to try what founding Chef Gabino Sotelino recommends. For the hung over crowd, they offer a fabulous make your own bloody Mary bar to boot! At the time, I was hung over enough not to even crave the hair of the dog. I opted for iced coffee and lots and lots of agua, instead.

Chicago Tapas Bar, Café Ba Ba Reeba's Bloody Mary Bar
Walking in front of Cafe Ba Ba Reeba’s Bloody Mary Bar

Café Ba Ba Reeba certainly has my two thumbs up and hopeful return one day.

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