A Sandwich a Day: Jibarito at Cafe Laguardia
As the story goes, the jibarito—a sandwich that swaps out slices of bread for smashed and fried plantains—was invented in Chicago by Puerto Rican immigrants at Borinquen Restaurant in Humboldt Park. But it didn't take long for other ethnic groups in the surrounding neighborhoods to take notice. This helps to explain why Cafe Laguardia, a Cuban restaurant located a mile or so east in Bucktown, has a version of the dish listed on its menu right next to the Cuban sandwich. The jibarito, after all, is a Chicago sandwich now.
The plantains on the jibarito steak sandwich ($6.75) aren't quite as crispy as the nearly flawless one served at Joey's Shrimp House, but they are slightly sweet and crispy enough to hold up to the filling. Any short comings in the plantains are more than made up for with the grilled steak, which is flavorful and tender. Of course, the jibarito isn't the only Puerto Rican dish this Cuban restaurant has stolen, as you can also get a solid version of arroz con gandules as a side dish.