Chicago’s Spanish Square

Casual ambiance. Simple and extraordinary bites. Very few people have captured the spirit of an authentic Spanish tapas bar in Chicago. Either the flavors tend to get fused with too many things or the experienced gets unnecessarily elevated.

What makes a traditional Spanish tapas bar so addictive is precisely how unpretentious they can be. It’s all about offering customers a friendly spot to relax and delicious bites with ingredients that are deeply respected and enhanced only when needed. A little olive oil, a little spice.

The Spanish Square in Lakeview is one of the few who are about 90 percent there. It was a refreshing surprise and surely a spot we’ll go back to. 

At first, it looked a little fancier than most of our favorite tapas bars in Spain. There’s beautiful artwork, chandeliers, and a couple of other curated pieces. But then, there’s also a jamón bar. Yes! Cheese and juicy slices of Ibérico are sliced right in front of your eyes. There’s a small wine cellar and a market area where you can get staples like olives, sobreasada, cheese and membrillo.

Although the market is not necessarily traditional, it’s a nice celebration of some of the little gems that we love so much. (They have Kas lemon soda, people! Best thing for a refreshing tinto de verano! I was also happy to see Tetilla cheese, since I couldn’t bring any from Galicia.)

Our friendly waiters kindly guided all of our cravings. What’s the best tosta or tostada on the menu? What’s should I drink with that? Etc. When it comes to their tostadas, go for their mushroom, goat cheese and jamón tostada. It was excellent and enough to share. Their Spanish tortilla was also beautifully done.

Flavor-wise, however, the real taste test (la prueba de fuego) is always the ensaladilla. Not everybody does it right, but Spanish Square uses real Spanish tuna mixed with peas, pimientos, eggs and just the right amount of mayo. So thumbs up for that! The olive oil cracker it comes with is a nice touch too. 

The prices of all of these options are also super reasonable, which we loved. The drink options, on the other hand, follow the “Chicago pricing” standards, around $9 and up. A cheaper glass of sangria or tinto de verano would get us to go a lot more often. Something to think about for the future.

Overall, we are very excited about this spot. We love that they have Paella Wednesdays and feature special menu items every week. It’s totally worth it to follow them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to see what they are up to.

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