This Venezuelan cafe and restaurant is one I always come back to. One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago, it’s cooked simply, with powerful taste, leaving you with a full and satisfied stomach. I’ve only been to the original Ravenswood location and cannot speak for the smaller one in the Loop.
As with any ethnic cuisine, it’s worth sampling traditional menu items as to appreciate meals you wouldn’t be able to eat otherwise. Here’s a guide to the best dishes on the menu.
The main item on the menu that Bien Me Sabe boasts is “arepas”. An arepa is similar to a sandwich bread, though it’s made of corn. If you’re having trouble imagining it, think South American corn pita and that should do the trick. Since it’s made of corn, it’s entirely GF, which I never would have guessed with that hearty dough. Their arepas have the right balance of soft and crunch.
Often times, I’ve found, the fewer ingredients- the better. This is true with the arepa. If you add too much to it you cannot focus on the ingredients in front of you and notice each different taste. The perfect combo (after many attempts) seems to simply be bread, beef, avocado and a sauce that resembles a light garlic aioli [pictured above]. With just those 4 ingredients, you appreciate each bite immensively, each part complementing the other in flavor.
There are arepa options as well for people with food restrictions and specific diets.
- BEST VEGETARIAN AREPA: Caribbean Arepa
- BEST VEGAN AREPA: Tropical Vegan Arepa
One of my favorite things on the menu is tostones (fried plantains), a staple of Central/South American cuisine. They are easy to share and wets the appetite whistle just enough to be ready for the main course. These ones come with some sauces and toppings, so it looks like a min open-faced sandwich.
For any pescatarians there is a great traditional fish stew that looks just as colorful as it tastes [pictured below].
BEST SIDE : YUCCA FRIES BEST DRINK: PAPELÓN
There is no better word to describe these other than tasty. Not often do I get to order yucca fries at a restaurant, so I jumped on the chance to order these salty treats and was very pleased! They are perfectly crunchy, and the exact size for dipping in their light guasacaca sauce (a sort of avocado salsa). The papelón tastes like a thick lemonade, sweetened with what taste like sugar cane extract. Strong and sweet, which balances well with the salty fries.
But, what Bien Me Sabe boasts in taste, they lack in customer service. I went on a weekday and it was not busy. And they took my plate the second i took my last bite. I felt rushed and with barely any time to enjoy my experience while waiters hovered over my half-finished plate. (They even took a dish that wasn’t finished and brought my fork along with it- I had to find another one).
That being said, it is worth it just for the food, just be on your toes and don’t be surprised if you feel like you are eating fast. Take the time- this food deserves your full attention!
If you have any room left for dessert the Tres Leches is worth a try and the Quesillo is a traditionally Venezuelan Flan- if you want to stick to purely Venezuelan cuisine.
- Start off with Tostones + sauces
- Build-your-own Arepa with Beef and Avocado
- Papelón (Venezuelan Lemonade) to drink
Come hungry, leave satisfied! – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Learn more here: https://bienmesabechicago.com