This week took me to one of my favorite Chicago neighborhoods, Wicker Park, to check out Amaru located at 1904 W. North Avenue. This Pan-Latin restaurant opened just this past summer. Word of mouth has been strong with friends frequently commenting on the consistently delicious food coming out of chef Rodolfo Cuadros’ kitchen.
The verdict? Well, let put it this way. By the time this review is published, I’m hoping to be considered a regular at Amaru. The restaurant is cozy and features Latin-inspired decorations adorning the walls with classic hip-hop playing thru the speakers. The staff was cordial and informative, taking their time to answer any questions we had.
Amaru features a menu that is both inexpensive and delicious. The majority of the culinary creations offered are intended as shareable plates. We began with an order of the Yuca Frita with mojo verde. This quickly became a second order, as the crispy, perfectly heated fries were just too tasty to last long at our table. Next up was the Piononos, featuring bacon-wrapped plantains with a chorizo stuffing. This mouth-watering dish is a must-try at Amaru and virtually had everyone at our table reaching for their phones to draft a favorable Yelp review.
After cleaning our plates of the appetizers, we moved on to our main course of Pulpo, Entrana, and Frita Cubana. This is where Amaru really distanced itself from similar restaurants in the area via the unbelievable tastes erupting with each bite from these dishes. First, the Pulpo, aka octopus, was perfectly cooked and is highlighted by poblano sriracha and papas bravas. Tender and moist, the Pulpo had a lifelong anti-fish eater at our table asking for a second and third bite.
The next dish we shared was the Entrana. This Argentinian skirt steak, featuring celery root puree and chimichurri roja, arrived piping hot and was a revelation of flavors upon which future steaks will have a hard time living up to.
I would have gladly ordered another plate of Entrana if not for tasting the Frita Cubana. Sure, it’s a cheeseburger, but your taste buds will instantly recognize that this is not something you can find the equivalent of anywhere else. The burger featured Cuban grass-fed beef topped off with burnt garlic aioli, shoe-string potatoes, and delicious Oaxaca queso. I’m not the biggest fan of cheeseburgers but refrained from asking for no cheese on the behest of my fellow diners, and I’m glad I did. Delicious from the first bite to last, this Latin-influenced burger stood out as a culinary update on classic diner grub.
We finished off our meal at Amaru with an order of the Espresso Tres Leches featuring Genois cake, espresso, and mousse, and the Arroz con leches, basically South American rice pudding. Both were a perfect end to a memorable meal.
The next time you’re near Six Corners in Wicker Park, bring your appetite to Amaru for a first-class dining experience featuring Latin-inspired gems. Amaru is open Tuesday- Thursday 4:30 pm – 10 pm. Friday, 5 pm – 11pm. The weekend is split between brunch from 10 am – 3pm and dinner service from 5 pm -10pm.
Eric Kaplan and Dean’s Team Chicago