La Unica (Restaurant/Market, Edgewater)
Location: 1515 W. Devon
Phone: (773) 274-7788
Cuisine: Mainly Cuban, although some Central- and South-American
Reservation: Not Accepted
I couldn’t help myself. I had to review another one of my favorite ethnic markets and in so doing, divulge another closely-guarded culinary secret. La Unica is basically a tidy little Central/South American market in East Rogers Park on Devon. Nothing too special about the market itself, although there is a cool little selection of rarely seen beer and liquor from the region (think pulque, pisco, etc.). The real gem of the place is the Cuban lunch counter in the back of the market. Congri, a shorthand name for the fluffy white rice and meaty, soupy black beans that are the staple of Cuban food, is the star of the show here. The rice is pillowy and lighter than air and the beans are a rich and savory product with a depth of flavor that could only come from a looooooong time in the pot. The other staple side dishes, yucca and fried plantains, are also hearty, starchy, and delicious. Stewed meat dishes like ropa vieja (translated to mean “old clothes” due to the falling apart/stringy consistency of the beef) and carne guisado stand out, but the Cubano sandwich is merely okay. It may not be South Beach but it’s as close as we’re going to get in Chicago.
View La Unica (Market/Restuarant, Edgewater) in a larger map