Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review

Hungry for Puerto Rican classics? Head north – well, to North Lamar.

Chago's Caribbean Cuisine

7301 N. Lamar, 512/275-6013
Wed.-Fri., 11am-9pm; Sat., 11am-10pm; Sun., 11am-7pm
Restaurant Review
Photo by John Anderson

Chago's Caribbean Cafe

7301 N. Lamar, 275-6013
Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-2pm, 6-9pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, 11am-6pm

Chago's is owned by Puerto Rican chef Santiago "Chago" Aponte and his lovely Venezuelan wife Solemar, and their kids host and wait tables; it's definitely a family operation that's warmly welcoming. The 70-seater opened last June on the restaurant-desolate strip of North Lamar, a block north of St. John's, on the east side of the road. It serves various beers and features open-mic nights and Karaoke Caribe, but it's the food that attracts us.

When you sit down, you get a bowl of crispy plantain or yucca chips with a garlicky mojo dipping sauce. We loved the fricase de pollo ($8); think of it as a rich, stewed-chicken version of ropa vieja with onions, capers, peppers, tomatoes, and sofrito, and any two of the sides. The sides are fantastic, and we'll probably just make a vegetable plate of them the next visit: arroz con gandules (pigeon peas), red beans, black beans, garlic yucca (soft braised yucca chunks topped with garlic sauce), and maduros (sweet) plantains.

Its Cubano sandwich ($8) is one of the best versions in town, with a thin, grilled, crunchy crust filled with smoked ham, roasted pernil pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, with yucca chips on the side. Pastelón de papas (potato) or de amarillos (plantain; both are lasagnalike casseroles) and sancocho ($10, a satisfying soup of beef, pork, ham, plantain, yautia, corn, and yucca) are all dishes that started as specials but are now daily menu options. Arroz con pollo ($8) is also a huge seller. At Chago's, mofongo ($10-13), the meat-accompanied mound of seasoned, fried plantain so loved in P.R. and the Dominican Republic, comes with the rich chicken stock in a separate bowl. Throw in tempting desserts like tembleque (coconut pudding), cheese flan, and tres leches (each $4), and you get the food of the real Puerto Rico right here in Austin.

More Food Reviews
Review: Phoebe’s Diner
Review: Phoebe's Diner
New daytime dining hot spot hits the ’04

Jessi Cape, Dec. 8, 2017

Saigon Cafe and Seafood Shack
Saigon Cafe and Seafood Shack
The Le family’s sister restaurants on Hudson Bend are worth the drive

Emily Beyda, Dec. 1, 2017

More by Mick Vann
Guantanamera Cuban Cuisine
Guantanamera Cuban Cuisine
Good things come in small packages

May 8, 2015

On the Cheap: Taquito Aviles
Taquito Aviles
Getting our goat on Braker

Feb. 20, 2015


Chago's Caribbean Cafe, Santiago Aponte, Chago Aponte, Solemar Aponte, mofongo, Cuban sandwich

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)