One Choice for Downtown Tapas

There are a surprising number of tapas restaurants downtown. OK, not surprising since the “small plate” phenomena has spread across the country. Seriously, you’d think that America’s chefs just discovered a whole stash of unused salad plates. But, tapas are a bit different than just any old small plate. They should transport you to (or at the very least suggest) Spain. In my limited experience, Spain consists of really good cured meats, olives and olive oil, seafood, and tortilla española—which is a wonderful potato omelet. Are there Spanish people in Spain? Probably. But, I really didn’t see them in my dash to the tapas.

A friend and I went for drinks after work to one of the many Chicago tapas restaurants—1492 Tapas Bar. I was just starting to get the illness that would lay me low for two weeks, so I was not in the best frame of mind for revelry, but I put on my game face and tried really really hard to be sociable. (Lo siento to mi amiga for the bad company.)

1492 is warm and dark on two levels. I feel bad for the wait staff as the kitchen is upstairs and the bulk of the seating is downstairs. Be very careful about the curved staircase leading up to the restrooms. It’s treacherous after a few glasses of sangria.

What We Ate

The menu is super helpful with V and GF marking off the dishes that are vegetarians and gluten free. As is tapas custom, we split all of the items we ordered. We had the ensalada del chef which included mezclun greens, grilled apples, goat cheese mouse, balsamic vinegar reduction and peach dressing. The apples were really grilled—char marks and everything. For a hot dish, we had datiles con tocino. For those of you not up on your Spanish, that would be dates wrapped in bacon with mango marinara sauce. By far, my absolute favorite. Rich, decadent, and bacony. And, then I believe we had the pincho de carne which was skewered beef with deep fried potato. But, keep in mind, I was on the verge of illness. So that could have been wrong. All I remember is that I wanted to eat more, but I couldn’t.

What We Drank

We had sangria in a carafe. The waitress and staff were very helpful in the constant re-pouring of our glasses—almost to the point of hovering. But, better that than never seeing your waitress after your order is put in.

Location: 42 E. Superior (the 1492 is more about Columbus and his blue sailing… not the address). They accept reservations via OpenTable.

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