Good eats, culture provided by Colombian Bocados
By YADIRA SANCHEZ OLSON
|Adriana Caceres serves drinks to Byron and Bertha Castellanos, of North Chicago at Caribbean Bocados Columbian Restaurant and Steak House, in Waukegan. Byron Castellanos took his wife, Bertha, out for dinner for her birthday. (Candace H. Johnson )
WAUKEGAN – There aren’t many places in Lake County where you can taste authentic Colombian food.
That’s precisely why Colombian-born Luz Osorio chose that area with her sister, Nidia Osorio, to be the place where she would begin the culinary endeavor of opening her first restaurant.
“The dream is to have a chain of Caribbean Bocados,” said Luz, proudly gazing at the fiery orange walls inside the establishment.
It took Luz, her sister and other siblings and friends 18 months to get the restaurant ready for the grand opening on May 5.
Now, Luz says, “It’s just right.”
The caribbean theme with faux palm trees, a large aquarium greeting patrons at the door, and a saying above the bar that Luz painted herself and reads: Como Te Quiero Mi Colombia (How I Love My Colombia) is what Luz calls “just right.”
But she’s also quick to say that for the business as a whole, she has much to figure out and finalize, such as who some of the vendors will be.
As of now, some of the ingredients that are used for the meals come directly from Colombia.
“You can’t find some things we use to prepare with,” Luz said. “We want our customers to get that authentic taste.”
One menu item with that authentic taste is called “Bandeja Paisa,” which is replete with food such as rice, frijoles, sunny side up eggs, avocado, pork belly, steak, corn bread and fried banana.
“This is what the workers on the field, or campesinos, eat in the state of Antioquia, Colombia,” Luz said. “It’s a plate that leaves them full and satisfied so they can put in a good day’s worth of work.”
That’s another service Caribbean Bocados has been providing for its patrons since its opening – a lesson on the culture of Colombia.
According to the staff, they are constantly asked about what part of Colombia the meals are from and why things are eaten in a certain manner.
They’ve all been surprised to learn that some people don’t even know where Colombia is located on the map.
“We’ve had people ask what Colombia has anything to do with the Caribbean theme in here,” Luz said. “It’s by the water!” (The Caribbean Sea and the South Pacific Ocean border the country of Colombia.)
Others just want to try something new at a good price.
“They give you a lot of food for the money,” Waukegan resident Wanda Garcia said.
Garcia recently ate at the restaurant only to return with her family — Husband, William Garcia and son, Jay Garcia, 7, to try other dishes.
The family agreed – Variety is good to have in Waukegan.