I’ve been on a Central/ South American cuisine tour as of lately. Enjoying dishes from Peruvian, Cuban, and now Costa Rican. On a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon, when Chicago’s weather decided to act civil, my friend and I headed over to the Wicker Park/ Bucktown area to try Costa Rican food. She is Mexican, so I especially enjoy going out with her because she is willing to try different types of food and our discussions about each other’s cultures over a fabulous meal, are always enjoyable.
My foodie friend picked out Irazū Costa Rican Restaurant. The neighborhood restaurant had been in its same location for over 20 years and has been featured on the Food Network, and now The Haute Seeker.com. The intimate space is filled with natural light and is very minimal. You can easily picture yourself on a nice sandy beach while dining here.
The selection of food is quite extensive. We both wanted to experience items that were completely authentic to the culture. For starters, we decided on the Chifrijo and Yuca fries. Let’s start with the Chifrijo. It is a combination of rice, pork, black beans, pico de gallo and avocado with a Lizano (a Costa Rican condiment) sauce. It was excellent, a great combination of flavors that really, is a meal all on its own. The Yuca( known as a cassava similar to a yam) fries were so good! They have an awesome taste. Not sweet or salty but certainly not bland. They are just clearly a starch. The fries are served with a garlic aioli and ketchup. The aioli was my personal favorite. Paired much better than the ketchup.
Soon after devouring our appetizers, our main course arrived. My friend chose the Pork Chops for her dish while I went with the Casado. The entree comes with either fish, rib eye, or chicken. I am not a big red meat eater but knew I had to have the rib eye for my experience at Irazū. It was so worth it! The rib-eye is topped with a mound of onions, jalapeno, and an over easy egg. The plate is running over with sides like plantains, a cabbage slaw, and Gallo Pinto, a tradiontinal Costa Rican style rice. This dish was incredible. The rib-eye tender and full of flavor. Everything on the plate was a compliment to the meat. After a couple of bites, I was full. Between this and some leftovers from the appetizer, I had plenty to enjoy as leftovers for the next day.
As full as a was I just had to have a smoothie/ shake(so I’m a little greedy). Earlier, my friend opted for a fruit based shake, the Marcuya. For my dessert, I chose the Avena(oatmeal). First off, I don’t like oatmeal. I cannot remember the last time I had a bowl of oatmeal for my breakfast. However, this shake, has me reconsidering the hull oat grain. Shakes can be made with milk, soy, or water. I chose water and was very satisfied with my choice. The shake tasted like Cinamon Toast Crunch and was the perfect treat to end a delicious meal.
Irazū was a truly awesome dining experience! The staff was great and the food fantastic. Typically I try to not to highlight restaurants that have been featured in large publications or have over 1,000 reviews on YELP, however, this restaurant is totally worthy of its praise. I wouldn’t be doing my readers due dilgence if I didn’t share some other facts about Irazū. So here are my tips:
1. Go hungry.
2. It’s BYOB so bring a bottle to share with your party or enjoy an alcoholic free smoothie like the one featured in the post. There’s a liquor store across the street. But it’s way overpriced, just go to Walgreens.
3. Bring some cash. It is cash only. No acceptions. No split checks. Just…bring cash.
4. Get the Yuca fries. They were fireeeee! Reliving the deliciousness as I type this.
5. Get a shake. Any shake. They are light and delicious was to end a hearty meal.
Izarū is #ratedhaute and is a great place to take friends and family for an authentic Costa Rican dining experience in the city.