Medha Imam: Fresh plantains fried, smashed, and fried again to crispy perfection topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and thinly sliced marinated steak that melts in your mouth, finished with American cheese and a heaping spoonful of garlic.

It’s the way this tender steak and fresh ingredients are sandwiched between crunchy plantains that makes the jibarito a legend in Chicago. The jibarito is a Puerto Rican-inspired sandwich, but it was created here in Chicago, which is home to one of the largest populations of Puerto Ricans in the mainland US.

Throughout the city, you’ll find plenty of restaurants serving jibaritos, but the local favorite is Jibaritos y Más. Customer: It’s delicious. It’s crunchy, it has a lot of flavor. I love it. Medha: This is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life.

Medha: Jibaritos y Más offers several versions of its jibarito, like pork or shrimp. But the most popular version is the steak jibarito. Medha: To start off, the meat is stewed for 30 minutes in a mixture of garlic, onion, adobo, and seasoning.

Medha: Next comes the plantains. Medha: The plantains are fried for seven minutes, pressed into a flat sheet, then fried again in order to achieve that crispy texture. Medha: After frying the plantains, it’s time to assemble the jibarito.

Medha: The next layer is your meat of choice and American cheese. Finally, the jibarito is topped with a large spoonful of garlic. Customer: I go for the steak, always. I mean, like I said, I’ve tried the pork.

I love it. But for me it’s the steak. Customer: It’s got great taste. You can smell it down the block. Customer: Yeah, ’cause it’s right down the street from my house. [all laugh] Medha: Jibaritos y Más makes all types of jibaritos.

The one that I have today is the shrimp jibarito. The first thing I immediately smell is the garlic. Here I go. It’s gonna get messy. [crunching] This is fantastic. That’s magnificent. So good. Twice-frying the plantain really does make this crunchy and crispy, exactly what you would want.

And also, also, the garlic that really hits you with all that flavor. Ugh. For me, I love that there’s a variation in different textures. There’s the crunch of the plantain, there’s the soft, supple shrimp in between, and then you have the crunch of the lettuce, the cheese that’s melting just right.

Yelitza’s passion for the jibarito started 20 years ago when she first arrived in the US and started working in local Puerto Rican restaurants. Medha: Oh, wow. Medha: Oh, wow.