CHIReview

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Dell Rooster  review image
8.0

Dell Rooster

$$$$

1845 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

No matter what kind of day you're having (or terrible decision you're on the brink of making) a trip to Dell Rooster in West Town guarantees you've done at least one thing right. Because coming here is always going to be a good idea—and not just just because this all-day Latin American restaurant has great food (and it really, really does). 

Dell Rooster is one of those paradoxical places that works for all sorts of situations. You can comfortably sit here with people you politely refer to as “acquaintances.” But it also has the kind of moody lighting and artistically plated food that won’t make a date wonder why you brought them here. The space is decorated in cute chicken murals and plays salsa music at a volume that’s still a vibe but doesn’t force you to scream across the table.

The food is affordable (most dishes hover between $15-30) and servers enthusiastically explain the origin of each dish, and offer suggestions along the way. Which is easy to do since everything is a hit. The oxtail sitting on fried sweet plantains is an example of a share plate that shouldn’t be shared, and the cheese-filled Colombian-style sweet corn cake covered in a rich vegetable seems like the culmination of a farmer’s life work. But whoever you’re sitting at the table with doesn’t really matter. As long as you’re here (with a plate full of plantains and oxtail) you’ve made at least one good decision today. 

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Food Rundown

Dell Rooster  review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Ropa Pal' Viejo

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the only correct one here is: this starter is incredible. The ropa pal viejo is a combination of sweet plantains topped with a little pile of stewed oxtail, cheese, and a squiggle of guajillo aioli. The chili in the aioli gives it heat, and there are some pickled onions to cut through the richness.

Dell Rooster  review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Arepa De Chocla

We humbly submit this light-yet-filling dish as our favorite on the entire menu. The sweet Colombian-style arepas are filled with a bit of cheese, and covered in enough vegetables to make you want to lean against a plow, wipe your brow, and look into the distance while saying, “Looks like we might get some rain.”

Dell Rooster  review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Coconut Shrimp

These perfectly fried shrimp are swaddled in a coconut blanket. They’re crunchy,a bit sweet (especially when dipped into the mango chutney), and have enough coconut flavor, but not so much that you feel like you're at the Tommy Bahama bar in Fort Lauderdale.

Dell Rooster  review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Short Rib Barbacoa

Definitely share this. Not just because it’s a lot of food, but so you and the person you’re sharing this with can take turns waving the bone around while exclaiming how delicious it is. The meat falls off the rib, and dragging a forkful of it through the creamy grits and smoky chipotle sauce creates a perfect bite.

Dell Rooster  review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Pernil

This mountain of pork shoulder, caramelized sweet plantains, and arroz con gandules is everything a hearty dish should be. It’s layered with crunchy chicharron, and has added complexity from a smoky, sweet sauce that’s made from five different chilis, including guajillo and pasito.

Dell Rooster  review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Tres Leches

Like everything here, this dessert is both very tasty and very pretty. Cute dollops of meringue top the soaked cake. And while it’s not swimming in milk, we promise it exists—you’ll see it ooze out when you cut into it with a fork.

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