2nd visit March 2012
I've had this place on my list to try for years, in the meantime they went and expanded their Lakeview location and discontinued their BYOB policy. The Lakeview location still sounded too busy for us, they don't take reservations and parking is slightly more difficult in that neighborhood so we tried the Portage Park location on Irving Park Road. We arrived a little before 6pm and there were people eating but no wait for dinner. When we left sometime after 7 pm, the restaurant had filled up and it looked like there might be a slight wait for a table. The 2nd visit we got there at 7:30pm on a Saturday and at 1st they said they couldn't get us in but with a little perserverance we got a table. Live music on Saturday night made the sound level a little loud but not conversation challenging.
Favorite Dish: We ordered an empanada sampler for an appetizer, 2 each of cheese, chicken and beef. Very nicely prepared and served with chimichurri sauce.
For our entree we ordered a combination plate, "Picada Colombiana", with a selection of meats including their entrana (skirt steak), chicken, chorizo and pork piled high over fried plantains, potato wedges, yuca and arepa. All of it very flavorful, the arepa was a little dry but otherwise everything on the plate was very good.
The 2nd visit I ordered carne asada and my husband got the steak and chicken combination, next time I will remember to order the Picada Colombiana!
Whenever the words "ethnic food" are mentioned, most people start to think of heartburn and indigestion. But what makes Las Tablas, a Columbian steakhouse, a success is its ability to turn simple meals into culinary expressions. Customers sit on wooden benches and are served their meals on wooden cutting boards. When you order Churrasco, the house specialty, you can hear the thin New York strip steak sizzling all the way from the kitchen. Because the restaurant does not have a liquor license, customers are allowed to bring their own alcohol. This option has made Las Tablas a popular destination for people in their 20s and 30s, as they can save money by bringing in their own bottles of wine. (There is no corkage fee and the waiters will gladly serve your wine to you as if it was their own.)
Favorite Dish: El Churrasco (Specialty of the House): Juicy char-grilled New York strip served with plantain, fried yuca, baked potato and chimichurri sauce. .
My friends love to have group dinners here. It is a BYOB place that serves lots of meat. There is always a line on the weekends. The tables are fairly close together so you often feel like you are dining communally (in other words, not a great place for a date).
Las Tablas is the creation of Jorge Suarez, who came to Chicago from Fusagasuga, Colombia, in 1985. The name comes from the wooden boards that the entrees are served on.
Favorite Dish: The menu sports many combos, which means that you can go with chicken and calamari, pork and calamari, steak and squid, pork and squid, shrimp and steak, and so on.
If you want to try something awesome, give the "bistec a caballo" a try. Two fried eggs are perched atop a pan-fried slab of tender, flavorful rib-eye with yuca and fried potato. All of this gets another zap of flavor when lavished with a tangy criolla sauce (onion and tomato).
Noon-10 p.m. Sun. -Thurs.
Noon-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Open 365 days a year
There are two Las Tablas locations in Chicago- one on Irving Park Rd, and another on Lincoln Av. The latter (my opinion) has alot more ambience, although the former provides much more seating. The Lincoln Av. spot is cozy, but fills up quickly. There are lots of interesting (Fernando Bertero?) paintings on the walls. Well, reproductions, at least.
I suppose, technically , this is a steakhouse. There are NOT a plethora of options for vegetarians, but it can be done. I used to order the bandeja paisa, a traditional dish, which is a huge platter of steak, other meat, rice w/an egg, plantain, avocado, beans...there might be more.
Now that I don't eat meat, I order the tradiciones colombianas (see below)
Try the figs for dessert, and don't forget the coffee!
Oh yes, FYI: people have complained about the service on occasion, but I've had pretty good luck so far.
Favorite Dish: I always get the TRADICIONES COLOMBIANAS, which consists of plaintains(I could eat them everyday), rice, beans, fried yuca, and salad. Simple, yes. But huge and done well.