Never underestimate the power of faux island-style decor and a super bright neon sign to signal potential serious eats. While such festive restaurant accoutrement usually is the Shakespearian case of protesting too much, in the case of Papa’s Cache Sabroso, a tiny restaurant that rocks the red neon and thatched roof patio, it’s actually a beacon for smokin’ hot Puerto Rican goodies.
Though, because there’s a joint serving crispy tostones and pigeon peas and rice on every corner of this part of Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, I wasn’t expecting much. Throw in the fact that my first visit was on Halloween night and the skanky funk of a recently smoked fatty blunt hung in the air while a gaggle of pimps, ho-devils, and a dude with his head ostensibly chopped off were chowing down behind me, and you might even ask why I didn’t run away.
Well, let’s just say, the glistening mahogany and brown caramelized skin of about 20 or so spit-roasting birds throwing off a killer sweet, meaty perfume is my idea of porn. The chicken didn’t just look good—it was super juicy and marinated with hot spices. It sailed down my gullet along with a batch of crispy, well salted green plantains, and maybe some of the better pigeon peas and rice in the neighborhood. Each of the grains as well as the beans had integrity, the perfect antidote to mushy piles elsewhere. The chicken itself is some of the best roast chicken in the city, up there with the bird at Mado, and the newly lauded bird at the Publican, and locking in at $12 bucks for a whole bird with the sides, it’s definitely the cheapest of the three.
Papa’s Cache Sabroso
2517 West Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-862-8313
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