Sabor a Cafe (2435 W Peterson Ave. Chicago, IL, 60659) is deceptively small, but inside it is actually both a music venue and a restaurant with a great atmosphere. Our particular draw for the night was a show by the Brazilian singer and pandeiro player Clarice Maghalães, one of our favorite young Brazilian artists. The inside of the restaurant is divided into two parts, and at the back of one half is a small stage, as well as other creative flourishes like an indoor portico and Colombian murals. Sabor a Cafe also has a big meat-heavy menu to keep show-goers happy, but there are also vegetarian starters like arepas and empanadas ($2 or less apiece).
While perusing the menu we ordered a somewhat unusual drink – hot chocolate – but the interesting part was that it was served with a mild white cheese, which our server instructed us to crumble into the drink. We did and it was pretty good, not too “cheesy” at all, though we are not sure this would be a regular addition to our mugs of hot chocolate. For appetizers we ordered a requisite for M – the Ceviche de Camaron / shrimp ceviche ($11.99). This rendition came in a cup, like a shrimp cocktail but with a spicy citrus and tomato broth. Though not too similar to his favorite Peruvian ceviche, M was happy with his choice. In terms of mains, there were many traditional Colombian dishes, like Bandeja Paisa ($15.99) which is a mix of steak, sausage, beans and an egg. This is certainly a meat-heavy menu and if you are looking for steak (in many varieties) you won’t be disappointed.
We opted to share the Parrillada ($18.99) a large plate (board?) of grilled steak, grilled chicken breast and grilled shrimp with chorizo, baked potato, grilled onions, yuca and more plantains. However, if you are not in the mood for such a huge combo, there were a variety of smaller a la carte meat dishes and combos, including carne asada ($12.99) or chicken skewers ($6). We were impressed with our parrillada, all of the meat was grilled to perfection, and we also liked all of the starchy side dishes. Along with the ceviche, the parrillada was more than enough for the two of us.
Another good thing about the dinner and a show model as that you pace yourself a little more. After a short break in gluttony, we settled on a decent chocolate cake for dessert (which also had some sort of cherry flavor in it), but we were also tempted by the Brevas con Arequipe / figs with cheese ($3.99) and the Platano Maduro con Queso y Dulce de Guayaba / Plantain with cheese and guava ($3.99). Maybe next time! Sabor a Cafe pleasantly surprised us with a good show, and good food to match. We will definitely be back.