Not Tapas, I Swear

Paul and I recently went to another wine bar with locally-sourced, seasonal food in a slightly hip neighborhood. Oh, did I mention the small plates? Are you asleep yet? I know, I know, you can’t throw a stick in Chicago without hitting one of these places—good food, good wine list, good atmosphere, prices that look good until you get the bill and realize you’ve consumed 12 plates of food for a table of two.

BUT, hang in there with me. There ARE places in Chicago that are worth the shi (as in shi-shi… but not so shi-shi that I can’t be seen there… so just one shi). How can you, as a regular eater, discern which restaurant is worthy and which is just another faux small plate fiasco? Well, it helps that you’re reading my blog. That makes you pretty smart on your game. Also, when a restaurant gets a nod from practically every food writer in town, you should probably give it at least one try.

Vera LogoVera is such a restaurant. In fact, I’m not going out on a limb to recommend it. Everyone else has already beat me to it. Located just off the Morgan Pink/Green line stop (and I mean just off… like half a block), it is squarely in… well, what’s that neighborhood… hmmm… the area that used to be the Warehouse District but is now the restaurant/club district or that huge zone called “West Loop.” (Seriously, Garfield Park could be called west of the Loop. And, it probably is these days.)

But, I digress: I’m guessing by your face that the Morgan stop is unfamiliar to you. As Paul said when we arrived, “It’s so new. This elevator doesn’t even smell like urine yet.” Ah, Chicago living.

What We Ate

Vera is Spanish cuisine, but definitely not tapas… even though I just said it was small plates. It’s good Spanish food. Think beef tongue pincho or duck paella with chorizo and chestnuts. That kind of good. Paul really loved the figs with bacon (Are we the least bit surprised? I said the word bacon.) We had a ton of dishes…all pretty fantastic.

When my sister went, she really fell in love with bread plate. (Which is a bit surprising because she typically does not feast on carbs.) It comes with a bean puree.

Next time I go, I want to sit at the meat bar. OK, they call it the Otro Bar (the Other Bar) but when we went it looked like the people were only eating cured meats. So, I’ll call it the meat bar. It looked very hipster to sit there. I can only dream that one day I will be as cool.

What We Drank

Wine. Lots and lots of wine. They also have a very nice bar area (bar, bar along the window, and a small runner along the wall) for sitting and waiting or eating.

The staff is also very pleasant. I mean, really just friendly and happy (at least the night we went). It’s one of those places that will make you feel comfortable.

Location: 1023 W. Lake St. I thought that they didn’t do reservations, but their web site says to give them a call. So maybe they’ve had a change of heart.

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