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Best Tapas In Chicago

When you ask people what fun things there are to do in Chicago, you may get a response about the museums, the concert venues, or the lake. However, you'll most likely get an answer that has to do with food. There's always something new to taste in the city, and people are always looking for ways to make their dining experiences more exciting. What better way is there to taste a whole menu in a fun group setting with lots of drinks than tapas? From the traditional to the funky you can get it all in Chicago. Other genres of food are even taking on the tapas mentality. - Jeff Pearl
Tapas from Azucar. (credit:


2647 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 486-6464

Classic dishes executed to perfection are why people keep packing into Azucar's tiny dining room. Somehow the combination of spices and sauces in each of Azucar's dishes sets them apart, even though the general design may be repeated throughout the city. With the slew of specialty drinks and desserts, you'll want to stay as long as you can and come back as soon as possible.

Cafe Ba Ba Reeba tapas
Skewered chickend & chorizo sausage from Cafe Ba Ba Reeba. (credit:

Café Ba Ba Reeba

2024 Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 935-5000‎

With a bar that does it all, you'll get half your calories from drinks at Café Ba Ba Reeba, but that's not to say the food isn't fantastic. Sometimes at a tapas restaurant the dishes are only good to share with a few people, but here they really encourage large groups with their large portions. There's no lack of spices either, but luckily you can wash them away with a Bloody Maria or glass of sangria.

Cafe Iberico
Bar Picoteo at Cafe Iberico. (credit:

Café Iberico

737 N Lasalle Blvd
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 573-1510

A lively atmosphere is the hallmark of Café Iberico. If you've got a loud friend that you can't take to small restaurants, then you should take them here. They have some very inventive dishes and large portions as well. You can also get a ton of food for a pretty low cost.

Chilam Balam
Grilled flank steak in guajillo sauce at Chilam Balam. (Credit: Jeff Pearl)

Chilam Balam

3023 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 296-6901

Tapas are usually from Spanish cuisine, but at Chilam Balam they're cranking out some of the best Mexican food in the city tapas-style. Technically it's small plate, but it's basically the same idea. Authentic flavors in a funky presentation will keep you coming back for every seasonal menu change. Bring a bottle of wine or tequila, and they'll turn it into sangria or margaritas too.

Emilio's Tapas
Mussels Vinaigrette from Emilio's Tapas. (credit:

Emilio's Tapas

215 E. Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 467-7177

Emilio's isn't about the flash and the flare. It's all about the quality of the food. It's one of the most authentic spots in the city, and they've got some dishes with spice profiles that'll leave your mouth begging for more. When some places are all about a party atmosphere, Emilio's keeps you happy with a calm environment and just straight up good food.

Mercat a la Planxa
Some fare at Mercat a la Planxa. (credit:

Mercat a la Planxa

638 Michagan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 765-0524‎

Jose Garces, one of the most popular chefs in the city, is putting out some high end tapas that are unmatched elsewhere. Don't be fooled by the fine dining: this is still tapas to the core. Cured meats, fancy cheeses, and insanely tasty desserts make this a clear choice for the list of best tapas.

Salumeria tasting from Quartino. (credit:


626 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 698-5000

Can you believe that there's a restaurant putting out Italian tapas? That's right, in River North you can get Italian food in a tapas format. Instead of patatas bravas and cured sausages, you can get pastas, pizzas, risotto, and veal. This change of pace is also found in the drinks with their martinis, wines, and Italian sodas.

Tapas Barcelona
Tapas Barcelona. (credit:

Tapas Barcelona

1615 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 866-9900

You can really try the whole menu at Tapas Barcelona. Instead of larger portioned tapas with a little higher cost, Tapas Barcelona offers lots of medium sized dishes that will barely dent your wallet. Make sure to get a pitcher of their sangria and a Spanish tortilla.

Tapas Valencia
Seafood from Tapas Valencia. (credit:

Tapas Valencia

1530 S. State St
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 842-4444

The interior design of Tapas Valencia could keep you occupied for the whole meal, but luckily the food is good enough to draw your attention. They do all of the classics and really seem to focus in on pure flavors with fresh ingredients. The large variety of Spanish wines should also keep you coming back for more.

Jeff Pearl
The author. (credit: Jeff Pearl)
Jeff Pearl has lived in the Chicagoland area his whole life and is currently a medical student at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Food has always been a passion of Jeff's. In his free time, Jeff enjoys either cooking for his friends, going out to a new restaurant, or training for his next triathlon. Check out his blog, Jeff Eats Chicago.
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