Remember when your uptight self went on a tropical vacation and you came back chill as hell? After a week of sunrises, coconuts, and poolside yoga sessions, you zenned. You turned your phone off. You ran on island time. Costa Ricans call this mindset and way of life “Pura Vida,” which means no worries, no regrets, no stress. But then you come home and it’s 30 degrees in Chicago in May, and a man on the bus intentionally farts on your head, and Karen from Accounting is all up in your grill because you forgot to include one receipt in your expense report. Snap, just like that, you’re back to reality.
While we can’t recreate your island magic, we can help transport you back to the hakuna matata ways by pointing you in the direction of Irazu, a welcoming Costa Rican restaurant in Bucktown that fully embraces Pura Vida. It doesn’t sweat the small stuff, evident by the large laminated menus, chalkboard specials, patio furniture, and a rambunctious crowd who are liquored up from a BYOB policy coupled with large pitchers of booze-friendly mixers. The plates are huge, and the dishes are generous concoctions of the same ingredients: rice, beans, plantains, peppers, cabbage, and your choice of meat.
Most importantly, their patio situation is A+. Really, what more do you need in life than friends, food, drinks, and sun? If you’re looking for trendy (or to pay with a credit card), go somewhere else. But if you’re looking to hang with some buddies for a few hours and get buzzed under the Chicago sun, Irazu is your jam. Karen can chill until Monday. For now, it’s Pura Vida.
Every culture has determined that if you slice something thinly and deep fry it, it’s delicious. For Costa Ricans (and most of the Caribbean), that’s deep fried plantains, and they serve it with a side of garlic oil.
Costa Rican seven layer dip. It’s a mandatory starter to be shared.
Your choice of protein with rice, black beans, sweet plantains, an over easy egg, and cabbage salad. It’s simple, it’s delicious, and Guy Fieri ate this once, so it’s offensively large.
Take the dish above and add onions, bell peppers and tomato. Yep, still good.
A large and in charge marinated rib eye steak sandwich with a zesty mustard. And it’s $5. Into it.