The Neighborhood Hotel team is all about the location. Our Lincoln Park hotel is ideally situated on Clark Street, within minutes of the lake, several cultural institutions, Wrigley Field, The LP Zoo and maybe the most important thing: FOOD. Good food. Not just good but classic, historically significant Chicago eats.
Let’s start with what’s directly downstairs from the hotel: Jibaritos y Más. Traditionally, a jibarito is a sandwich with thin cuts of steak or shredded beef, tomatoes, lettuce, and garlicky mayo nestled between two fried green plantains. The jibaritos at Jibaritos y Más are a slight departure from the traditional jibarito as they offer additional proteins like pork, chicken, and octopus. Check out the ‘y mas’ part of the menu too as there are plenty of other delicious Puerto Rican favorites like tostones, chuelta frita and mofongo. This place is full of crunchy, flavorful goodness.
Most people agree that the jibarito [which translates to “little hillbilly”] was first created in Chicago, although who invented it remains unclear. Many credit Juan Figeroa, the owner of the Humboldt Park, Puerto Rican restaurant, Borinquen, with inventing the jibarito in the mid 90s after he was inspired by a similar sandwich in Puerto Rico. Chicago is home to the second largest Puerto Rican population outside of the island. When hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans began migrating to the mainland in the 1930s, many who didn’t go to New York ended up in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.
Jesus Arrieta’s mother, Yelitza Rivera, opened the first location of Jibaritos y Más in 2016 after working in Puerto Rican restaurants for many years [although Rivera and her family are Venezuelan]. Now, Arrieta and his wife, Tatianny Urdaneta, have expanded to 3 locations throughout the city. Arrieta says that his Mom was attracted to the jibarito because of its similarity to patacón, a different green plantain sandwich from Maracaibo in Venezuela.
Moving on to a serious subject for Chicagoans: the hot dog. Pro tip: while in this city, don’t mention ketchup & hot dog in the same sentence. A proper Chicago ‘dog’ is comprised of: a poppy seed bun filled with a Vienna Beef all-beef wiener, topped with mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, a pickle spear, sports peppers and celery salt. There are a few good hot dogs around this city, however The Wieners Circle, located literally next door to the hotel, has been THE spot for over 40 years. A few years ago, ‘the circle’ went through quite a makeover complete with the addition of a bar and patio [but the genuine, old school vibe remains amidst the new sparkle]. People travel from all over the city/country/world to feast on these hot dogs [and don’t miss the cheese fries]. During the day, the vibe is rather tame. However, late at night the energy picks up – you just gotta see for yourself (or google videos for fair warning). The phrase on their home pages is: WHAT THE F*CK DO YOU WANT? Just to give you an idea…
The history of the Chicago-style hot dog dates back to the Great Depression [1930s] when Chicago was full of people working in factories or on road crews. Hot dog stands provided a cost effective, quick meal for the workers. Plus, a hearty helping of special toppings over their hotdog added calories and nutrition without over spending.
Sidenote: Checkout the life-size Chicago style hot dog at the Chicago History Museum down the block — you can climb in it, just go – you’ll see what we mean!
Hopefully, you’re on your way to try these iconic Chicago delicacies. But save room, Chicago pizza is a MUST and deserves a post of its own… coming soon.