If you've driven by today's stop you will certainly remember doing so. Unless seeing a big ass shark looking over some palapas is something that doesn't catch your eye. La Palapa is the type of spot that can transform you to another place. Dine in on a a busy weekend and the BYOB will take you straight to whatever Mexico beach destination it was you last vacationed at. It's name coming from the dozen plus Palapas (an open-sided dwelling with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves).
Locals Favorite in McKinley Park
While La Palapa is big it's only so in the summertime. The actual restaurant is small with maybe four tables. It's outdoor dining and byob policy paired with plates of spicy shrimp is what makes it a big hit. I'll be honest and admit that Chicago's marisco places aren't going to compare to any of the spots in cities on the water but when it comes to the food at most of them there's pretty much one thing you're there for and that's langoustines bathing in butter. Me being the major taco aficionado I am I once decided to try the fish tacos and was reminded of what I said the sentence before this.
There is one other thing that's worth ordering when stopping by for the langoustines and that's the Shrimp Zarandeado. Pescado Zarandeado is a popular grilled fish in the Nayarit region of Mexico and La Palapa makes a version with shrimps. This dish is all about the sauce which mixes a deep red chile sauce with lots of butter both before and post cooking of the shrimps. The sauce is the star. I like to mix the Zarandeado sauce with that of the popular langoustines. The latter of which can be hit or miss as far as seafood quality. I've had big meaty shrimps that tasted great but there's also been a time or two the shrimps were smaller and the meat was a tad tougher. Still at this pricepoint with that sauce it's not something that bothers me much. The atmosphere (and sauce) are why you're here.
Shrimp Zarandeado (top) House Special Langoustines (bottom)
2000 W 34th St
Chicago, IL 60608