Dining and food culture in Chicago

You’re the Best of the Best: A Throwdown for Chicago’s Finest Jibarito

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Chicken Jibarito from Papa's Cache Sabroso/Photo: John Carruthers

Chicken Jibarito from Papa’s Cache Sabroso/Photo: John Carruthers

By John Carruthers and Dennis Lee

While tourists pore over reheated listicles of the “best” deep dish and hot dogs, we Chicagoans jealously guard the kung-fu secret of the Jibarito. This classic, which roughly translates to “little hillbilly,” was invented right here in Humboldt Park at El Borinquen in 1996. It’s a sandwich with meat, lettuce, tomato, garlic and mayo, all set between a pair of crispy fried planks of plantain, the banana-like fruit of the Caribbean. Just a warning: these are messy sandwiches, and your fingers inevitably get covered in a layer of garlicky oil, so don’t be shy about using a lot of napkins (the world’s going to end anyway, so might as well use all our natural resources while we’re still here).

To determine which sandwich was really the best of the best, we launched our JibaritOff by first putting on our eating pants (sounds nicer and more professional than “old sweatpants”). We then pitted two of the city’s top contenders against each other in a final battle for supremacy. We decided to judge both the steak and the chicken versions of the sandwich at each place. Read the rest of this entry »