Colombia: Las Tablas

Las Tablas
2942 N Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL

We  had been warned that to really enjoy Las Tablas you have to prepare yourself for an epic onslaught of starch and meat. We were prepared. We entered Las Tablas’ Lincoln Avenue location (There is also a newer Irving Park Location) on a Saturday night, and the place was packed to the gills and the bar was lively. We had a reservation but even had to wait 20 minutes for the party to clear out a bit. The decor inside was nice, with cute Botero reproductions lining the walls.

Looking at the menu we saw a distinct emphasis on… well, meat. However, on the large menu there were ample non-meat options to serve as teasers for the main event. We started off the meal with an order of Las Tablas’ 2 cheese empanadas ($2.5 each) and a rather more unusual appetizer of Aborrajado ($8) which was a plantain stuffed with guava jelly and soft white cheese. They made a mistake with our empanadas by giving us a meat order – and quickly made amends by bringing our correct cheese order out in addition. Though the meat empanadas were good – we actually preferred the cheese empanadas, maybe it’s the Wisconsin influence.

The appetizer portion of the dinner concluded our meatless run, and we pulled out all the stops for the main course. M ordered the “Matrimonio” which was a combination platter of chicken breast and Entraña skirt steak – the specialty of the house ($20). L ordered another combination platter with steak and shrimp ($20). Alongside each dish came plantains, potatoes and some somewhat unappealing fibrous yuca. The steak was definitely the house favorite for a reason. The chicken and shrimp were good, but not as memorable since they had the same spice rub as the beef. The portions were so huge we ended up taking about 1/2 of each portion home each, which served us for another meal and a half.

We washed everything down with a Las Tablas Limonada, a homemade lime cordial, which reminded us of the Venezuelan drink Papelon con Limon. For dessert we chose the Brevas con Arequipe ($4.5) a simple dish of figs covered in a semi-soft caramel sauce, much like dulce de leche, but with a slight sour flavor. Though not as sweet as it’s cousin, dulce de leche, M gobbled up the figs.

We stumbled out of Las Tablas in a veritable food coma, one induced for less than $60 no less. Though we sometimes had to shout to make ourselves heard above the din, Las Tablas is a great place for carnivores to share a lively dinner.

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