I’m ashamed to say that, until recently, I had never visited Papa’s Cache Sabroso, a staple in Chicago’s predominately Puerto Rican Humboldt Park neighborhood. Adorned with Tiki decorations and serene island paintings, and with no more than ten tables in the small restaurant, you can catch the chatter of Spanish and English conversations, as everyone from abuelo y abuela to Chicago Police Officers and young teenagers cruising by on skateboards stop in to grab some tostones at this friendly, casual spot.
Ambiance aside, the real draw of Papa’s is the food. The menu consists of extremely affordable dishes that stay true to their Puerto Rican roots. Famous for their chicken, two pieces of pollo with a side dish of arroz will run your pocketbook $6.50.
With the door permanently open, the fresh air breezed in and allowed the smells of Sazón and cilantro to simmer out. A complimentary (and never-ending) plate of pan con ajo decorated my table, along with cheap burgundy plastic tablecloths and fake flowers. The one thing lacking was some music–reggaetón, salsa, lo que sea! Instead, we were serenaded by the television set. How many times can you hear about the presidential election?! When the food came out, however, I forgot about the lack of music. The food was all the mambo I needed!
It became apparent why Papa’s is famous for its rotisserie chicken. The seasoning could teach mi mama a lesson or two. Well, maybe not mom, but you get it! And their famous tostones ($2.25 la orden) were a buttery deliciousness that literally melts in your mouth and were to die, revive, and die again for!
I highly recommend giving Papa’s house a visit, pero keep in mind that el domingo, as he preaches to the Chicago community via his laminated menu, “Leave me alone, I’m closed.”
As I was paying my bill to drag myself out of the restaurant, I read a sign on the wall that said “Come to Papa’s”, and I decided I will definitely be back when they open the outside patio to really inhale the Humboldt Park air with a six pack of Heinekens, (they are BYOB, by the way!). But, in the mean time, me tengo que ir; I have a to-go Guayaba pastelito to taste that I hear does wonders for the soul!
Papa’s Cache Sabroso is located at 2517 West Division St in Humboldt Park. Open Monday-Saturday; M-Th 10:30am-9pm, and Friday and Saturday till 10pm.