Los Angeles Times

A taste of the islands

Cousin's Grill
"The best restaurant a person can go to if they are in the mood for Puerto Rican food. I congratulate the owners and the cooks on their excellent work. I love all of the items on the menu, especially the jibarito--it's great day or night. Don't just take my advice--go see for yourself." -- Michelle M.

The Winds Cafe
"I always have a great time, and the food is always great at this bar and cafe. The staff is always really courteous and hospitable. They have a diverse menu, a great selection of beers on tap and the kitchen is open late. The restaurant has a friendly, diverse crowd with a nice neighborhood feel. There is always great music coming from the jukebox: jazz, rock, blues, Latin, etc." -- Rod D.

Borinquen Restaurant
"Wonderful meal and atmosphere. I've never been to Puerto Rico, but many people tell me this is authentic. I loved the jibarito; it was my first taste of Puerto Rican food. I had no idea what I had been missing! Very quick (we got carryout). The servers are helpful, polite and bilingual." -- Amanda S.

La Bruquena
"I am from north Jersey and have been looking for a good Spanish place to eat. The food at La Bruqena tastes home-cooked. The servers are nice. The place is a mom-and-pop restaurant, but anyone can feel at home with the atmosphere and delicious food!" -- Monet H.

La Palma
"Beyond being a very quaint place, La Palma serves great food in large quantities for low prices. The atmosphere encourages people to laugh and enjoy themselves even more." -- Jasmine N.

Rancho Luna Cuban Cuisine
"I know Cuban food. I even know how to cook it. And I can say that they know Cuban at Rancho Luna. Stick to ropa vieja, bistec encebollado, bistec a la Cubana and the sandwiches. On the weekends, you can even dance. They have a good quartet that plays until 10 p.m. and then the deejay takes over." -- C.B.

Cuban Island
"Of all the Cuban restaurants I've tried in Chicago, this is the best!" -- Cristina C.

Cafe Laguardia
"Everything about this place was rockin', including the awesome ambiance, with animal prints everywhere (including the ceiling vents). The staff was super-friendly. We had nachos to start. They were amazing! It wasn't a giant pile greasy chips with globs of beans and cheese like some places are known for. For dinner I went with the volcano jumbo shrimp. It was hot (I love hot) but it was well-layered and spicy. Cafe Laguardia is on my top 10 list of city eats." -- E.G.

Calypso Cafe
"This restaurant may seem like a local dive, but I honestly like it! The menu includes a large variety of well-spiced and creative Caribbean items. The drinks are frou-frou and fun. The service is helpful. It's a really great value for the money, and food portions are large. The atmosphere is fun, although a bit contrived. Definitely a thumbs up!" -- Celeste L.

Ambassador Caffe
"Very good! The place itself is small but has awesome Cuban food. The appetizers were my favorite. The best empanadas in town." -- M.C.

Cafe 28
"Prices were a bit higher than expected. Food was presented beautifully, but the pork chops were very tough. Chipotle chicken and jalepeno mashed potatoes were superb. Sides ordered separately were small, especially for the price. Although very, very cramped (elbows could touch those eating at next table), service was exceptional." -- E.D.

Cafe Bolero
"I have dined here several times over the past three years and it only gets better. The stuffed roast beef is a big hit, and we love the plantains, rice and black beans that come with most dishes." -- Ed T.

--Compiled by Christine Badowski

Originally published March 19, 2003.

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