Maybe it’s just us, but we feel like Vera often gets lost in all the hoopla of the West Loop. Everyone seems to get caught up in the next big restaurant opening here, chef moving there, or Fulton Market District signage that appears out of nowhere. Seriously, what’s up with that sign? We get that Fulton Market District is like Vatican City if the West Loop is Rome, but is a half million dollar sign arced over the street necessary? No offense to the artist involved, but it feels like the type of grandeur entrance reserved for Navy Pier or Wally World. We aren’t into it.
We are into Vera though, even if it gets lost in the shuffle. The Spanish style wine bar is cozy and intimate with a great wine list and versatile food menu. Versatile because it caters to a number of needs. Go for snacks and wine in the late afternoon, or make it an all out Friday night meal. You can even go during the week from 8 AM to 3 PM for a serious coffee and tea bar, along with a small cafe menu. All of these things make Vera ideal for lounging and conversation, whether that means catching up with friends or impressing a date. Good news is ambience is half the battle, and Vera will make you seem cooler than you probably are.
The food is overall pretty good too. It’s a traditionally inspired Spanish menu, even if not all of the dishes are traditional per se. But we still like to treat an outing here like a trip to Spain. Move slowly from olives and boquerones to charcuterie and cheese before capping things off with a couple more substantive plates. And even then, we like to keep it on the smaller side with options like grilled octopus, shrimp a la plancha, and lamb meatballs. Heartier full size plates are always available, but it’s not a route you have to feel compelled to go.
Our only complaint on Vera is that it’s located directly under the L, which means even though the food caters to relaxing outside, it’s not a good place to do it. Luckily, that’s not much of a problem when you choose to live in a frozen tundra 2/3 of a year.
Toast with anchovies, chive butter, and trout roe. Nine bucks might be a little hefty for two pieces of toast, but if you’re into anchovies and trout roe, it’s worth it.
You can’t have a Spanish tapas meal without pan con tomate. Get some serrano ham on it too unless you’re going to opt for a larger meat and cheese plate.
The aged manchego and Hooks 7 year cheddar are our favorites when available.
You need some veggies, so get this cauliflower with green romesco, raisin, and pine nuts.
Sprinkled with a little olive oil and paprika. Nothing special, but it plays.
Shrimp a la Plancha
A couple shrimp cooked in olive oil and paprika with a chile vinaigrette. Soak up that sauce with the tomato bread.
These babies have a nice little kick to them, which is balanced out nicely with a yogurt and dill sauce. Good stuff.