When Puerto Ricans began pouring out of Humboldt Park
, more PR eateries began popping up in Cragin, where many transplants set up camp. Most restaurants failed. Finally, Cafe 787 (suiting the island's area code) gets it right. Brace yourself when I say this, but once this place gets discovered by the masses, it’ll be Chicago’s best for PR fare.
Walking in, you immediately shake your backside, thanks to the sexy salsa beats blaring (free salsa lessons at 9 p.m. on Saturdays). My friend and I sat in a cherished booth beneath the glow of a cone-shaped lamp hanging from the lofty wood ceiling. We admired the vast space with lots of nooks and surprises, from festival masks and beach-detailed artwork hanging on glazed brick to the sunroof and an elevated dining area fit with a second bar.
We were excited perusing the menu stacked with conventional favorites and alluring specialties. We devoured a plate of bacon-wrapped shrimp, but would have preferred them prior to our entrees. I stuck with a traditional plate of lechon paired with arroz con gandules and a helping of salad – tongue still hanging from my mouth. My more eccentric friend chose the in-house specialty: Puerto Rican lasagna made of sweet plantains, ground beef and mozzarella.
Our only irk is the lack of service for a slow weekday afternoon. But the owner, Diana Alicea-Cuevas (bless this sweet woman) did her very best trying to run her business and suit her guests.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez