If you can guess the meaning of the Portuguese word petiscos, with no help from the Internet and on your first try, congratulations—you are ready to throw a party with the delicious snacks that are championed by Chicago’s Fat Rice.
Co-owners Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo took a gamble that petiscos, Portugal’s working-class answer to tapas, might catch on in the Midwest. Success (critics’ accolades, long lines, award nominations) was not a given. Conlon and Lo’s petiscos fascination began, esoterically, with tiny Macau, a former Portuguese colony on the South China Sea. “We’re tracing the empire backward,” says Conlon, explaining Fat Rice’s focus on Portugal’s onetime conquests, including Goa, Malacca and Cape Verde.
- 14 Five-Ingredient Tapas
- How to Pronounce PEEN-chose, Tapas' Tiny Cousins
- Why Douro Valley Is Portugal's Best New Wine Destination
With Fat Rice’s recent expansion—there’s now The Bakery at Fat Rice and The Ladies’ Room lounge, and, as of this month, a cookbook called The Adventures of Fat Rice—Conlon and Lo are doing even more to enlighten the uninitiated. At night, they transform the bakery into a petiscos counter. And sometimes, after hours, they host petiscos parties, setting out platters of food with piles of small plates and bowls, so guests can serve themselves tasting-size portions of different dishes: mini sandwiches called bifanas, filled with tender pork drizzled with red pepper broth; the Azorean soup caldo verde, combining kale, luscious bits of shredded beef and fat slices of sausage; and bowls of snails with toothpicks. All stay true to a humble, no-frills spirit.