Bien Me Sabe: A Home Away From Home

By Stephen Lin

Chicago, the vibrant melting pot of cultures and cuisines, strikes a fine balance between hustle and Midwestern charm. Here, authenticity and unique flavors thrive, weaving a tapestry of culinary experiences that define each neighborhood’s identity. Tucked away in a sunny corner of Ravenswood, Bien Me Sabe stands as a treasured gem, bringing the flavors of Venezuela to the streets of Chicago. As you step into this family-owned restaurant, the tantalizing aroma of stewed black beans, sweet plantains, and freshly griddled arepas embraces you, creating an immediate connection to the heart of Venezuelan cuisine.

As you take a seat in their humble dining room, your eyes are immediately drawn to the whimsical chalk art adorning the walls. These illustrations act as a guidebook showcasing the art of making their signature arepas from scratch. Unless you hail from Venezuela, the dishes on their menu may look as foreign as trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube with your eyes closed. But fear not, my hungry friend, because the flavors that dance on your plate will evoke a warm and fuzzy nostalgia that’s more comforting than a hug from grandma. Every meal at Bien Me Sabe feels like a family reunion where the relatives you never knew you had are ecstatic to welcome you home.

Now, let’s talk about the notorious Arepa Wednesdays—our midweek savior and the reason we find ourselves frequenting Bien Me Sabe more often than we care to admit. It’s like a secret club that only the true connoisseurs of flavor know about. The atmosphere is alive with energy, and the $8 signature arepas have a magnetic pull that’s harder to resist than a puppy-eyed toddler asking for ice cream. I’m telling you, once you sink your teeth into their PABELLÓN, stuffed with shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains, and Caribbean cheese, you’ll feel like you’ve finally scratched an inch you’ve had your whole life. A personal favorite of mine however, go for the CARAQUEÑA with its caramelized roasted beef, handmade cheese, sweet plantains, and avocado—  its flavors will leave you wondering if you’ve been transported to the vibrant streets of Caracas.

As you explore the depths of Bien Me Sabe’s menu, you’ll find a treasure trove of appetizers and mains that make it perfect for any occasion, from rowdy family gatherings to those heart-pounding first dates. The best part? Bien Me Sabe is BYOB, my friend, which means you can bring your own bottle to the party! While they offer a plethora of non-alcoholic beverages like fresh fruit juices and the irresistible chicha (imagine horchata, but better), they don’t provide alcoholic pairings. But worry not, because LUSH is here to save the day! Whether you’re grabbing a bottle of Garnacha or Pinot Noir to savor alongside their refreshing Venezuela sangria during a girl’s day brunch, or selecting a craft beer to enjoy with a piping hot arepa, we’ve got your back.

Now, let’s dive into the magical world of wine pairings. Imagine this: you’re savoring the bold flavors of Bien Me Sabe while gracefully swirling a glass of Quinta da Lixa Vinhão — a Portuguese red wine with a rich ruby color and refreshingly high acid content, this wine becomes the perfect partner-in-crime for the bold and vibrant profile of Venezuelan cuisine. Its firm tannins and balanced acidity will elevate your dining experience, making for a perfect night out to enjoy this summer. 

Bien Me Sabe goes beyond being a Venezuelan restaurant; it is a repository of stories and flavors that form part of Chicago’s diverse cultural library. Whether you’re feeling adventurous or longing for a taste of home, Bien Me Sabe offers solace through exceptional food crafted with love. With each bite, you’ll become part of Chicago’s cultural tapestry, adding your own vibrant colors to the city’s diverse culinary landscape.


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