Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! review image

Café Ba-Ba-Reeba!



open table
$$$$(773) 935-5000

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, or Ol’ Reliable as we like to call it, has been around for over thirty years. In restaurant years, that’s a long time. But just like The Stones or your mom after 1.5 margaritas, it’s still here to party. They do it up big - big space, big menu, and big noise, supplying a lively atmosphere that makes it perfect for a lot of occasions.

Ba-Ba-Reeba hopped on the tapas bandwagon early, billing itself as Chicago’s Original Tapas Bar. We can’t confirm whether or not that’s true, but we can confirm that it gives you what every good tapas concept should - a large, diverse menu so you can choose a variety of dishes, ample portions that are easily splittable, and worthy Spanish classics. Some plates are better than others, but you’ll be pleased more often than not. Try a little bit of everything because that’s what tapas are for.

Ba-Ba-Reeba is a well-oiled machine, and we mean that as a compliment. The place is a labyrinth with one dining room leading to the next, and they’re cycling people in and out at record speed. For this reason, Ba-Ba-Reeba is great for a last minute reservation because you can almost always snag a table, but they also restrict capacity to specific rooms so it always feels full.

Because it’s a production with a heavy emphasis on efficiency, you lack some of the charm that you might get from your neighborhood tapas place. But we’ll gladly take that trade-off if it means we can get a seat for a good meal that doesn’t require a month’s advance notice.

Food Rundown

Chorizo-Wrapped Medjool Date & Cheese

Ba-Ba-Reeba offers a selection of pintxos which are single-serve tapas traditionally paired with a happy hour drink. We’re partial to the chorizo-wrapped dates because dates wrapped in salty meat is never a letdown, and this chorizo has a bacon-like crispiness.

Burrata With Grilled Housemade Bread

This appetizer comes with a tangy tomato marmalade. We’re into it.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! review image

Warm Potato And Onion Omelette

We appreciate that Spain doesn’t restrict eggs to morning activities. This one makes for a solid accompaniment to some of the more flavorful dishes.

Spicy Potatoes With Tomato Aioli

Patatas bravas sound a lot less sexy when you spell it out like that. But these are still pretty darn good.

Goat Cheese Baked In Tomato Sauce

A bowl of rich tomato sauce with a hefty dollop of goat cheese surrounded by thick, crispy garlic bread.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! review image

Rioja-Braised Short Rib

A brick of short rib with cheesy potatoes and veggies. An unfortunate letdown. The flavors aren’t bad, but the short rib is dry and flavorless.

Grilled Squid With Olive Oil & Garlic

A simple and tasty preparation of grilled squid.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! review image

Roasted Chicken Empanada

A decent empanada. You won’t write home about it, but it’s hard to go and not split one amongst the group.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! review image

Seafood Paella

With your choice of four different paellas, we’d steer you towards the seafood paella with shrimp, scallops, and monkfish.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! review image

Featured in

The Chicago Neighborhood Delivery & Takeout Directory guide image
The Chicago Neighborhood Delivery & Takeout Directory

Want to know which Chicago restaurants are open for delivery and takeout in your neighborhood? You’re in the right place.

The 2020 Chicago New Year’s Eve Takeout Guide guide image
The 2020 Chicago New Year’s Eve Takeout Guide

Say good riddance to 2020 by ordering from one of these spots.

10 Chicago Restaurants With Easter Specials guide image
10 Chicago Restaurants With Easter Specials

10 great spots for a Chicago Easter feast.

19 Exciting Things To Do & Eat In Chicago This Halloween guide image
19 Exciting Things To Do & Eat In Chicago This Halloween

Check out these pop-ups and special events happening around Chicago for Halloween.

Suggested Reading

TÊTE  Charcuterie review image
TÊTE Charcuterie

TÉTE Charcuterie flys a bit under the radar, but it's a strong player in the West Loop. Eat charcuterie, but know they serve excellent veggie dishes.

Mercat a la Planxa review image
Mercat a la Planxa

Good food, but the crowd doesn't match the place. If you're cool with a weird atmosphere, the food won't disappoint.

Bub City review image
Bub City

Bub City is a BBQ restaurant in River North with a busy bar and occasional live music.

Ema review image

Ēma is a small plates Mediterranean restaurant in River North, and it’s good for a lot of occasions.