Nestled among blocks of both local shops and national brand businesses is a cozy establishment that welcomes guests with ardor and irresistible aromas. Café Ba Ba Reeba! resides on North Halstead Street in the Lincoln Park district a short walk from the red/brown line.
From the outside looking in, this destination doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.
A flag dancing lazily in the breeze advertises tapas, the Spanish style dining featured inside, and on days of pleasant weather, a host stands at the door to greet guests with a smile.
Once inside, someone will be pleased to seat you, conveniently walking you past the exquisite spread of selections in the Bloody Mary bar. This was my drink of choice on my last visit. Carefully selecting your type of tomato juice, seasonings, and the perfect garnishing snacks was more entertainment than I experience before 11am every other day of the week.
Once seated, you will have a chance to browse the beverage options and take a few moments to settle in. Take your time to ponder the menu and make a few tapas selections (tapas are small dishes meant to be finished and ordered in a mix-and-match way to build your own meal), after which you can finally take in the beauty of the inner décor.
Around that time, my glass arrived for my Bloody Mary and I took my sight seeing back across the restaurant to begin my creation. I started with a base of spicy tomato juice, and built up with a dash of celery salt, bacon, shrimp, olives and celery. Be sure to bring your appetite, because this drink is an appetizer in itself. Being a first-timer to the world of Bloody Marys, I was glad to have my good friend and seasoned Bloody Mary pro with me to show me the ropes and build the perfect concoction.
If your taste tends toward the sweeter side for a morning beverage, there is an impressive selection of wines, beers, and cocktails as well as beautiful pitchers of their signature sangria in a variety of fresh flavors.
Back at the table, you will be graced with warm, fresh bread and olive oil to enjoy while you converse and await your plates.
I chose two tapas to start, the citrus French toast with whipped goat cheese butter and honey and the seasonal market vegetable hash with poached egg and tarragon hollandaise sauce. Both plates were absolutely spectacular. The hash tasted as if it was cooked straight from the garden, both savory and light in the most satisfying way. And that French toast. I still crave it regularly and pine for another bite. The toast was thick with the perfect amount of sweet citrus bite, and the dreamy whipped goat cheese was what my wildest dreams are made of. Married together they make for a plate sent straight from the heavens.
It was a mid-morning meal to remember.
As lovely as the experience was, the city was calling, and we were ready to answer.
The beauty of the surrounding Lincoln Park area is the ease of accessibility. If you enjoy walking, I highly recommend touring the streets by foot. The architecture in the surrounding residential neighborhoods is exquisite. The way the massive trees that line the streets drape leisurely over the streets and sidewalks reminded me vaguely of historical Savannah, GA.
In the area immediately surrounding Café Ba Ba Reeba!, you will find plenty of shopping options including many retailers you know, and just as many you can learn to love.
There are also a number of public parks to explore, my favorite of which was Oz Park, aptly named for is references to the 1949 classic The Wizard of Oz. The green space offers something for everyone including a playground, various sports fields and courts, and a quiet garden with plenty of open grassy area and benches for relaxing in the sun. On my second trip to the area, I stopped in to enjoy the blooming wildflowers and do some writing in the shade.
A little further down the road is Lincoln Park. Set near the great Lake Michigan, the beauty of this Chicago park is the number of attractions it holds. From the Lincoln Park Zoo, to the conservatory, to the beautiful landscapes, fountains, and sculptures there’s no shortage of free entertainment. You’ll find it incredibly easy to spend an entire day exploring all Lincoln Park has to offer.
If you’re itching to tour the Windy City in an alternative way, head north to Lincoln Park district and spend the day exploring a slightly quieter, yet equally fulfilling side of Chicago. It might not be the tourist paradise you had in mind, but I promise, you won’t be disappointed.