Puerto Rican food is coming back to Lincoln Park, as the owner of Jibaritos y Más plans to open a fourth location, just two doors down from the infamous Wiener’s Circle. Owner Jesus Arrieta told Eater Chicago that he planned to open in May inside the long-vacant Duke’s Bar and Grill, but that the COVID-19 outbreak has pushed back his plans for 2616 N. Clark Street.
Arrieta, and wife Tatianny Urdaneta still plan to open as soon as possible. The Puerto Rican-inspired jibarito is associated with Chicago, though no one can agree on its origins. The Lincoln Park Jibaritos y Más will certainly feature the eponymous sandwich (“jibarito” can be translated as “little hillbilly”) which uses smashed and fried young plantain pieces in place of bread. The traditional garlicky version is messy and uses shredded beef or thin-cut steak with mayo, tomatoes, and lettuce. Arrieta’s restaurants, which are open through Illinois’s stay-at-home order, also serve chicken, pork, and octopus variants.
After 12 years, Duke’s closed in 2017. The menu will have a lot in common with the other two locations, but there’s a few wrinkles. Arrieta will make use of the bar space and they’ll serve alcohol, a contrast to the BYOB policy that exists at the first two Jibaritos y Más restaurants. They’ll also add empanadas, joining Tarascas, Lito’s, and 5411 Empanadas, all within a few blocks of each other on Clark Street.
Since announcing the Lincoln Park location, many people told Arrieta about Lincoln Park’s past as a major historically Puerto Rican and Latino ethnic enclave. A half century ago the once Puerto Rican lakeshore neighborhood became perhaps the first major modern gentrification projects in Chicago. Many relocated to West Town along Division Street, eventually making Humboldt Park a cultural focal point.
Logan Square was another of the neighborhoods that saw an influx of Puerto Rican residents move from Lincoln Park in the 60s and 70s, and that’s where four years ago a Venezuelan family established the first Jibaritos y Más restaurant. In 2016, Arrieta to Chicago to help his mother Yelitza Rivera open up the first location, 3400 W. Fullerton Avenue.
“My mother used to work at another Puerto Rican restaurant and so she knew everything about [the cuisine], and her customers love her,” Arrieta said.
“That’s her success, really — the relationship my mother built with this [Logan Square] community.”
Arrieta soon opened a second location, this one on Harlem Avenue in Dunning. Another opened next to the original Logan Square location earlier this year. Arrieta calls the quick growth of his family’s restaurant business a bit of a surprise, but it clearly owes a great deal to his mother Yelitza’s attention to detail.
“She believes that if you’re going to cook, cook it right and if not, let someone else do it,” Arrieta said with a laugh. “She’s a control freak in that way.”
The family’s offerings should bring even more diversity to Lincoln Park’s already wide variety of restaurant offerings, Arrieta said.
“Lincoln Park already has so much…but there isn’t Puerto Rican food there yet. So to come here and put something Chicago-based in the neighborhood, because the jibarito sandwich itself is supposed to have been developed here in the city, I think it’s excellent.”
Block Club Chicago first reported the story.
Jibaritos y Más, 2616 N. Clark Street, planned to open after May.