Empanada Heaven – Melao Restaurant – 3941 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago

Colombian Empanadas

I have always dreamed of a Colombian Empanada heaven nearby. I dreamed of an empanada that was as good as my wife’s without the work of making it. I found it and to me they are really good at Melao Restaurant, 3941 N. Lincoln, Chicago,  almost at the corner of Irving Park Road. It is crispy enough and the meat mixture inside is just perfect. No fancy flavors here, just Beef, chicken, mushroom and a spinach variety. Personally the Beef is for me. It evokes Colombia!

Kala Rojas and Madeline Solarte with Parillada Colombiana

I started going to Melao as an alternative to another Colombian restaurant that became inconvenient to my daily travels. The restaurant site had a Colombian restaurant there previously. The main attraction at the beginning was the lunch menu price of $5.95 for steak or chicken , corrientaso (Daily Special) with rice, beans and salad. What a deal!, since then it has gone to $6.95 for a healthy, well cook and very tasty meal well worth the price and very convenient working lunch. The owners Kala Rojas and Madeline Solarte both from Cali, Colombia, moved to Chicago with big dreams.  Kala an industrial engineer by trade and Madeline a journalist and Dj, saw their American dreams come true in Melao. There restaurant is mostly Colombian with dishes and appetizers from Latin America.

The menu at Melao is very varied fare from Latin America but mostly Colombian. The parillada pictured above is cooked to perfection and the meat is very well seasoned and tender. When you get rice and beans with your order the rice is exquisitely seasoned with garlic very typical of Colombia, when I eat I recalls wonderful family times in Colombia for me. Several visits ago we had the Bandeja Paisa, its good!

Melao is BYOB and check their Facebook for varied activities like Latin Jazz nights.


Vanilla Bean Bake & Coffee Shop – a nice oasis of peace in Humboldt Park

Recently Vanilla Bean Bake & Coffee Shop opened in 2627 W. Division Street , and I most say it is very elegant and friendly  wonderful for long conversations and and getting some work done. The quesitos  are said to be exquisite they were out of them, the coffee is great and with a large variety of pastries. This is a very friendly place, owners Marisol and Tony Vale have gone out of their way to create and oasis of peace.