When I was home from Colombia, I wanted to take my family to experience an authentic Colombian meal. The best place to do that in Chicago is Las Tablas in Lincoln Park. They’ve been around since 1991 and have two locations – 2942 N. Lincoln Ave. in Lakeview and 4920 W. Irving Park Rd. in Portage Park. All of my visits have been to the Lakeview location.
With a lively atmosphere, friendly service, and colorful interior, Las Tablas brings the spirit of Colombia to Chicago. The reasonably priced menu is also enticing, bringing together traditional Colombian dishes from several different regions of the country.
After taking a while to decide on several mouth-watering choices, we finally put in our order. For dinner, two of us ordered the bandeja paisa, a traditional Colombian mishmash of steak, chorizo, chicharron, beans, plantain, avocado, rice, and a fried egg. Always delicious, it’s got food coma written all over it and is something you have to prepare yourself to eat.
One person ordered the entrana (char-broiled skirt steak) and another had the pollo relleno (chicken breast stuffed with spinach and cheese). Both were very happy with their meals.
For starters we ordered empanadas and I asked the waiter to bring us a large order of ajiaco (a traditional soup from the Bogotá area) to share. Everyone raved over both, but especially the unique flavor of the ajiaco.
There’s a huge variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available at Las Tablas. We all shared a pitcher of sangria, while in previous visits I had a refajo, which is Colombiana soft drink mixed with beer. Fresh juices are also on the menu including ones I never expected to find in America, such as lulo and guanábana. On another visit, we tried the mojitos, which are considered to be among the best in Chicago.
If you’ve never experienced Colombian food before, Las Tablas is a great place to start. I guarantee you’ll enjoy the unique flavors Colombia has to offer. Just bring an enormous appetite and get ready for a fun meal.