Chicago >Food & Dining > Cafe Bolero
2252 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL | Directions 6064741.923147 -87.687975
Neighborhoods: Bucktown, North Side
Overated, Understaffed, and NOTHING good to say – I was actually on my way to another restaurant when I took a detour and found this place in my sights. I always heard good things from the reviews on this website, so I decided to ditch my original plans and come here. At first sight, there was only a group of 10 inside and a couple outside when I entered the place. I thought that since it wasn't busy I would be able to eat and run. However that wasn't such the case since there was ONLY 1 SERVER, 1 BARTENDER, AND 1 COOK AT THE TIME! Needless to say the ENTIRE service was SLOW (took 10 minutes for server to take my order and ANOTHER 5 minutes to get me a glass of water). When the server finally came around to me I ordered a mojito, and the green muscles and the omelet espanola appetizers. Let the disappointment begin. The mojito appeared not to be muddled and VERY bitter/sour as if the lime and mint weren't fresh. The "green" muscles tasted tough, gritty, and overcooked and weren't warm at all. It came with (I think) bleu cheese which was TOTALLY MISMATCHED with the muscles. The server messed up my omelet order as I ordered it wish beef and not veggies only. Actually, it's more of a fritada than an omelet which is mostly cauliflower and a potato base in a "watery" red sauce . It wasn't that appetizing at all. I asked the server whether or not there should've been beef (which I ordered). she responded, "...no because there's vegetables and it only comes with veggies, chicken, or beef" (yeah, go figure that answer for yourselves). I think the only good thing of the meal was the free bread that came with herb butter (I hope its herbs mixed with the butter). Needless to say, I left without taking home the leftovers and not tipping. I should've stuck to my original plan instead of coming here. Save yourself from a bad experience and a possible upset stomach and AVOID THIS PLACE!!!
Delicious food, very good service and reasonable prices. – We went to Cafe Bolero early on a Saturday evening. The atmosphere was very charming. I liked the open kitchen. Our server was very pleasant and attentive. When she found out that this was our first time there, she spent additional time making some recommendations from the menu. The combination platter of tapas was a wonderful option to sample of some of there offerings. Nicely presented with a variety of tantalizing flavors. The roast pork and vegetarian stuffed peppers were flavorful and ample. The total bill came to under $50 for two with one cocktail each. Not bad for a city location. Parking was a little inconvenient, but not a serious problem.
Exellent food horrible service – If you go to Bolero will love the food specially the skirt steak w/ white rice and beans , mojitos are not the same than befoore , too sweet now , neither is the service . The new family related waiter avoid him if you cuold , worse service ever , starting with his language barrier to the point of his ego wich is the worst . Well I dont want to get to cranky about that , exellent food and drinks . Just don't forget to drink their sangria wich is one of the best in town .
Best Sangria – Ok, for a while there after the reopening the service was good and attentive but the last few times I've been there it's been lacking and it almost seems like it's a chore to wait on us. I mean it's not like we're demanding people but please don't make us wait fifteen minutes to ask what we'd like to drink especially since it's practically empty. I remember going there mid summer and it was late with some friends and the hostess and our cute waiter were more than accomodating and didn't seem to mind that it was near closing time. The margaritas were good but the sangria was the best I've ever had. The steak was cooked to perfection and the ceviche was delicious. The food and the prices are reasonable but alot has changed with regards to service. Someone needs to tell the manager that the staff should leave the "attitude" at home.
Inexpensive entrees, fabulous mojitos – I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Bolero. We went on a Friday night around 7 p.m.; we didn't have a reservation but that wasn't a problem. We were seated immediately. The bread with garlic butter was a great start to the meal because I was famished. I ordered a $7 mojito and it was fantastic! My husband ordered a pineapple drink that I didn't care for, but he enjoyed it. For dinner, I had the ropa vieja. The dish was massive and flavorful -- mounds of shredded flank steak with rice, plantains and black beans. The dinners are priced reasonably (especially considering the amount of food!). The hostess and wait staff were overly friendly. I'll definitely come back!
Always on the search – for a new experience. I've been to Cafe Bolero twice now and both times have been great. First time was on a Tuesday and I ate outside. I asked about the music and the waitress mentioned there is music on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Last night (thursday) I went at 9:30 and ate inside in the back bar. They had an awesome group playing music heavily laden in spanish guitar and drums. The food was great, people were dancing, and the music was awesome. (Guitarra Azul is the group's name). I bought a CD and found out they now play there on Thursday nights. I definately recommend checking it out. It also looks like a family run place. All of the people there were happy. Always good to see. Good change from the "Dine here because we're the newest fancy place downtown", but leaving the place with only bragging rights of having been there.
Great food and drinks. Good music and atmosphere! – I really can't agree with people that are "in love" with a restaurant or that really hate it because it's horrible. I think all places are in the middle. Some have bad dishes, but good atmosphere and drinks. Other can have great food but the place itself may be ugly or with no class. Some are beautiful locations but the food its just bad. Cafe Bolero has a nice balance overall: The place used to be cheaper but after a complete renovation of the main area, the increased prices a bit. No you can find better furniture, and the lighting its more classy. Now, the good part: FOOD.-The repertoire its pretty good, but of course, it won't be so attractive for veggie people (Go to cuba and ask people around "Who is vegetarian?! They will laugh at you!) The carne asada is one of the best stakes I ever had. Cooked to perfection and so tender! Black beans and rice with lots of flavor, and that butter and bread that you can't have enough.
The Pulpo a la Plancha its well done and full of flavor too. Shrimp and veggies with this salsa that its so flavor full... I'm not very attached to fried stuff, but it seems that people like maduros a lot, along with tamales and rellenos.
DRINKS.- I think Bolero has the best mojito in town, they call it "Killer mojito" and that's because its so big that you will be done after having just one. The one the serve at Rumba in downtown its 10 times smaller and just 5 bucks less! Not to mention the difference in flavor and the bad service the bartenders offer in Rumba...
MUSIC.- Tuesday is my favorite night, listening to a very original cuban orquesta, with a mixture of traditional tropical music and the new Jazzy style from the Island. Beware of the noise, the cuban cigars and the heavy flirting at the bar... It might be just too much for some people.
Cheap tasty food & lively atmosphere – Live music was a nice surprise during my Tuesday night visit. I ordered the veggie combo plate which was standard with fried plantains, black beans & rice but good, filling, and cheap ($8). Beer menu was above average with selections like Xingu from Brazil and Famosa from Guatemala. Lively atmosphere--i would recommend this Cuban joint to a friend.
AVOID at all cost if you are a vegetarian! – If you are a vegetarian DO NOT bother visiting this restaurant. The stuffed green plantain tasted like something out of a can. When mentioned to the manager, he stated that I had eaten too much of the dish, thus he could not do anything about it. The manager never came near our table nor saw that the dish was practically untouched. His bad customer service combined wit the bad dish has assured me that I nor my friends will never return to Cafe Bolero.
WONDERFULL SERVICE, EXQUISITE FOOD, BEST MOJITOS ANYWHERE, – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR LUNCH OR DINNER, SERVICE IS FAST AND FRIENDLY. BEST TAPAS: COMBINATION PLATTER (STUFFED POTATOES, CROQUETTES, CUBAN TAMALE), CHICKEN OR BEEF PIES (EMPANADAS). ENTRY: SKIRT STAKE IS SIMPLY AWESOME, THEY HAVE EXCELENT VEGGIE DISHES, DELICIOUS DESERTS, TRY A VANILLA FLAN (CREME BRULEE) WAOOO!!!! BEST MOJITOS AND DRINKS. WE WENT IN A GROUP OF 8; WAS A WONDERFULL EXPERIENCE IN TASTE AND SERVICE.
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