• Dining
  • Boqueria from NY arrives: Our review

    Almost all the dishes we sampled outdid the average version without straying from the formula.




    807 W. Fulton Market | 312-257-3177

    Neighborhood: West Loop
    Cuisine: Tapas
    Vibe: Adept
    Entree price range: $5-$32
    Sound level: Medium
    Private room: No
    Reservations: Accepted
    Wheelchair-accessible: Yes

    All restaurant meals are paid for by Crain's reviewers, who visit restaurants anonymously. They sometimes follow up with phone calls to management after they visit to clarify information.

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    "Have you been to a tapas restaurant before?" the host asks me as I follow him to a table. I instantly lower my expectations, and also feel I need to double-check the familiarity I feel with tapas. What year did Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba open? (It was 1985.) I'd already worried about Boqueria, being a new outpost of a New York-based chain, too often a formula for underestimating Chicago's palate.

    Turns out my cynicism wasn't warranted. Boqueria does the classic roster of tapas more than adequately, deserving a visit from both aficionados and the Rip Van Winkles who have never been to a tapas restaurant before.

    79彩票注册网址The menu reads like the pantheon of tapas: various hams, croquettes, anchovies, olives, meatballs. Almost all we sampled outdid the average version without straying from the dish's formula. The anchoas del Cantabrico ($12), for example, plated anchovies, good butter and lemon zest with what initially looked like too much bread but turned out ideal for tempering the strong flavors.

    79彩票注册网址Wooden tabletops, tiled walls and visible ductwork give the space a look that's now generically urban. Highboy tables sit close together.

    79彩票注册网址Other than the weirdness about the exoticism of tapas, service acquitted itself well, timely and professional. Boqueria suits a boisterous colleague lunch or a work-break meet-up with friends, but less so any context where sharing plates gets awkward, like a less-familiar client. But you probably already knew that.

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    79彩票注册网址Paella de marisco



    The tapas lunch special ($35 and not necessarily a bargain if you order the cheaper stuff) gives everyone at the table undistinguished shishito peppers; followed by two choices per person off a prix fixe list of tapas, all of which exceeded expectations; ending with too-crispy churros to dunk in dull chocolate.


    Dishes labeled favorites by members of our party, both visits: pintxos morunos ($13), darkly meaty and not gamy lamb skewers with pickled shallots and herby salsa verde; calamares ($15), tender squid cooked with ink-blackened white beans (cute), preserved artichokes and Calabrian chiles; and escalivada ($13), cool roasted eggplant to spread bruschetta-style on long, skinny toasts with labne yogurt, red peppers and a gardenful of herbs.


    79彩票注册网址Albondigas ($14), here lamb meatballs served in a tomato sauce, broke a long string of above-average dishes. Unlike the skewers, the gaminess of the lamb here cut through the sauce and the dollops of earthy sheep's-milk cheese, and then clanged with the bizarre counterpoint of raw cucumber slices, unmentioned on the menu. Maybe those who have the gene for meatball salad in Italian restaurants would rate this dish more highly.

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    79彩票注册网址Brunch spread

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