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Café Con Leche Bucktown (CLOSED)

Restaurants, Cuban Wicker Park
2 out of 5 stars
Photograph: Calbee Booth Cafe Con Leche

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

There’s a salsa to suit everyone at the new Café con Leche spin-off. At brunch, a request for avocado salsa brought a dish of pico de gallo, then a chipotle-tomatillo blend, and then, finally, the green sauce itself. At dinner, two different salsas, a chipotle and a chile de arbol, were plopped down with a basket of dry bread crusts. Now, Cuban food’s not traditionally spicy, so the additional heat’s not unwelcome, but the confusing presentation does make you wonder what’s going on in the kitchen. After two visits, it’s not totally clear.

A casual pan-Latin spot in the Milwaukee Avenue shack previously home to the Lobos al Fresco (and before that the much-loved Johnny’s Grill), Café con Leche’s the latest venture from owner Ulysses Salamanca (Flash Taco, Underdogg), who sold his Logan Square joint of the same name last year. The tiny space is cheery and casual, if suffused by a creepy chartreuse glow at night, thanks to the neon sign outside. The menu covers vast territory, with a mix of traditional Cuban sandwiches, Mexican tortas and dinner platters ranging from carne asada to fajitas, and even a veggie burger and a Philly cheese steak. Not surprisingly, with a menu that varied, consistency is hard to come by.

Dinner showed the most promise (aside from the odd bread crusts and greasy charro beans). Lechon asado was a hefty hunk of fork-tender pork, a little dry but helped out by a savory jus that, soaked into rice with pigeon peas and chorizo, made for the most potent flavors of the meal. And the carne asada was a hit, near-charred on the outside but tender and juicy.

Brunch, however, didn’t fare as well: The veggie breakfast burrito was wrapped in a rubbery flour tortilla and filled with a gray mess of eggs, cheese, potatoes and that avocado salsa, while the huevos Motulenos—sunny-side up eggs atop ham, beans and cheese piled, in turn, on a crispy corn tortilla—were done in by bland, greasy ham. The titular coffee, rich and sweet, turned out to be the saving grace of the meal.

By: Martha Bayne



Address: 1732 N Milwaukee Ave

Cross street: at Wabansia Ave
Transport: El stop: Blue to Western. Bus: 49, 50, 56, 72.
Price: Average main course: $12
Opening hours: Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner
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