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One Great Dish: La Palapa's Paella

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jun 2, 2014 6:00PM

Photo credit: Chuck Sudo/Chicagoist

Mexican restaurants specializing in seafood specialties like shrimp coctel, ostiones and langostinos are a dime a dozen in Chicago but only a handful stand above the rest like cream rising to the top of a murky surface. La Palapa, a McKinley Park restaurant noted for its angry fiberglass shark atop the roof and an outdoor seating area replete with fake palms and shade depicting a seaside retreat, albeit blocks from the Stevenson Expressway and Archer Avenue and nestled next to the Orange Line, is one of those outposts.

La Palapa is popular with both the local gourmands always on the hunt for new restaurants serving quality food and local Mexicans eager to sit out in the sun with a plate of spicy shrimp and a half case of Corona or Modelo. Since the beginning of civilization, seafood has long been regarded as a way for men and women to replace the virility missing from their bodies—putting the fuel in your rocket, so to speak. With menu items that translate to “lady killer” and “mattress buster” it’s obvious the management has the same thing in mind. One key to the amazing flavor of La Palapa’s menu is the liberal usage of butter. That includes their outstanding paella, which is swimming in the stuff and makes for a rich meal.

Whether you’re a fan of good seafood or believe it will help you maintain a hard-on in bed, the paella is also teeming in richness from the sea. It comes with liberal amounts of shrimp, octopus, calamari and mussels, which only add to the richness of the dish. Frankly speaking, this is one of the best paellas in Chicago, even if I had to sample it on a 90-degree day; the norteno band squeezing between tables to serenade diners was a bonus. Whether it will help you in the bedroom is another matter.

La Palapa is located at 2400 W. 34th St.