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Puerto Rican Food In The DC Met Area???

marcbjohnson Feb 13, 2008 07:35 AM

Chowhound Family...I have a friend of mine who just moved into the area. She is Puerto Rican, and she is looking for a place in the area that serves authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. Anyone can help???

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  1. e
    elbows RE: marcbjohnson Feb 13, 2008 08:38 AM

    Probably better places, but I have heard that Banana Cafe in Capitol Hill has some Puerto Rican dishes. Their menu is online.


    4 Replies
    1. re: elbows
      hill food RE: elbows Feb 13, 2008 09:14 AM

      Banana sort of presents itself as pan-Caribbean, it's ok and pleasant, but unless things have changed, allow some time, the kitchen can work on "island time". wait until a nice Spring day and kill an afternoon at the outdoor tables over mojitos (West exposure and Metro's only a block away)

      1. re: hill food
        dcandohio RE: hill food Feb 13, 2008 09:16 AM

        Banana Cafe is good for drinks and the outdoor tables are definitely seductive on a nice day. Too bad the food leaves much to be desired. Portions are large, but what's the point if not much of it is really tasty? The last time I ate there I said I wouldn't return. Cheesy, greasy, highly Americanized fare

        1. re: dcandohio
          Elyssa RE: dcandohio Mar 4, 2008 12:12 PM

          Completly agree. I eat here every now and then because its the one place our office can eat where the one vegan in the group is satisfied. I've never been a huge fan of the food and service can be very slow but the drinks are good in warm weather.

          1. re: dcandohio
            monkeyrotica RE: dcandohio Mar 13, 2010 04:19 PM

            I’ll admit that the tex-mex taco fare at Banana Cafe is pretty bland. But the mofongo, Cuban picadillo, and carnitas cubanas are pretty flavorful. I’ve only been for lunch and can’t vouch for dinner.

      2. d
        dckw RE: marcbjohnson Feb 13, 2008 08:57 AM

        Maybe Cafe Salsa in Alexandria? There's a menu online. Maybe it has a few dishes that will remind your friend of the comforts of home!

        10 Replies
        1. re: dckw
          Bulldogg65 RE: dckw Feb 14, 2008 02:06 AM

          I was not going to create an account on here and simply use it to browse but as a self respecting food lover I could not let this thread stand without marcbjohnson a very solid answer.
          There is NO Puerto Rican food in the general Baltimore/DC area. I lived in Puerto Rico for years, my wife is from Puerto Rico and lived on the island until she was 23 when we were married. We have a vacation home on the island and go back at least once a year to see all of our family. We have reverted to having the local lady in my wifes childhood neighborhood cook us food a few times a year and overnight it to us here in MD.
          Sorry for the negative response but it will save you hours of looking in vien as I have over the last 4 years.

          1. re: Bulldogg65
            marcbjohnson RE: Bulldogg65 Mar 4, 2008 12:03 PM

            Thank you, Bulldogg. You have me laughing over here. Although I will check out some of the things that the others have suggested, I have to agree with you. This area is mainly populated with Latinos from the deeper Central American countries such as Hondorus, Ecuador, and El Salvador (Although we do have Cuban and Mexican restaurants in the area as well). You need to tell that local lady to move up here and open up her Puerto Rican restaurant.

            1. re: marcbjohnson
              rannnie RE: marcbjohnson Mar 13, 2010 10:54 AM

              ECUADOR is not located in Central America!!! I am interested in restaurants that offer ecuadorian cuisine.

              1. re: rannnie
                Dennis S RE: rannnie Mar 13, 2010 06:34 PM

                You are correct. You may want to post a new thread for Ecuadorian cuisine. I apologize that I cannot give anything here.

                I do know of multiple types of Peruvian cuisine in the area - and the best I've learned is that this comes from topography (coastline to high mountain fare).

                Definitely there is Central American fare - both in honest and in disguise.

                But this thread focused on Puerto Rican. I've never had Ecuadorian that I've known of. I do not know what sets it apart. I don't know any single dish special to Ecuador. So, please start a new thread, fill us in with anything you have to offer, and let us learn! Danke.

            2. re: Bulldogg65
              Ericandblueboy RE: Bulldogg65 Jul 14, 2008 05:30 AM

              What about Cafe Salsa? I just went there last night. I have no idea where the chef/owner is from but there are many P.R. dishes, or so I believe. I've only stayed in P.R. briefly so don't shoot me.

              We had the Papitas Rellenas & Camerones Mejillones Al Tango for appetizers. For entrees we had Pollo Campeche and Arroz con Pollo (which was a special). The only thing that I didn't like is the Arroz con Pollo, they used chicken breast and cooked it until it was really dry.

              1. re: Bulldogg65
                Jason1 RE: Bulldogg65 Feb 18, 2009 09:30 AM

                Just an FYI: A few weeks ago what looks to be a Puerto Rican restaurant coming to Glen Burnie on Rt. 2, across and down a little bit from La Fontaine Bleu. I'm not sure if anyone has any information about it, and when I passed it looked like they were still doing work on it, but maybe this will be your answer.

                1. re: Jason1
                  vivinator RE: Jason1 Feb 18, 2009 12:23 PM

                  lol of all places. the bmore area is changing from when I was a kid in the 80's.

                  1. re: Jason1
                    Fraticelli RE: Jason1 May 20, 2010 02:15 PM

                    Hello Jason1, the Puerto Rican restaurant in Glen Burnie just opened its doors. I am going tomorrow to check out the food. I will let you know how it goes.

                    1. re: Fraticelli
                      Jason1 RE: Fraticelli Aug 9, 2010 10:51 AM

                      Does anyone know how this place is? I went by the other day and noticed they were open. I can't recall the name, though.

                2. re: dckw
                  Monfongito RE: dckw Feb 18, 2009 07:33 AM

                  Far from real Puerto Rican food...Mofongo isn't supposed to be mushy...If you are looking fro real authentic Puerto Rican food don't waste your time here.

                3. m
                  mselectra RE: marcbjohnson Feb 14, 2008 08:59 AM

                  and there have been a couple fairly recent threads on this question, so you might do a search.

                  1. j
                    justaddwater RE: marcbjohnson Feb 18, 2009 09:50 AM

                    Caribbean Breeze in Arlington: alcapurrias, piononos, and mofongo.

                    Cafe Salsa in Alexandria (Old Town) and soon a second location on 14 St (DC): alcapurrias, piononos, mofongo.

                    These two are a bit on the pricey side for what you get in my opinion, but the better choices.

                    Also, Banana Cafe in DC: piononos, mofongo, pernil.

                    There was also a report here awhile back for a takeout or stripped down place called Manna in Takoma Park with PR dishes.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: justaddwater
                      Russel Shank RE: justaddwater May 22, 2010 11:49 AM

                      I posted a query about mofongo recently, and Caribbean Breeze was similarly suggested.

                      Haven't tried it yet, but let me know if you give it a shot.

                      Caribbean Breeze
                      4100 Fairfax Dr Lbby 1, Arlington, VA 22203

                    2. s
                      Steve RE: marcbjohnson Feb 18, 2009 12:42 PM

                      There is a place called Manna in Hyattsville, and also a Manna Carry-out in Talkoma Park. I have never been, but I remember a VERY positive post on Chowhound a long time ago about this place. You could always call and find out.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Steve
                        sekelmaan RE: Steve Nov 3, 2009 04:09 AM

                        I found that post a while ago and went and tried the pork belly mofongo at Manna and really enjoyed it. I don't know how authentic it was as it was my first one, but the pieces of pork were crispy fried and the plantains were good and there were limes and something spicy, but I can't recall what it was. I will definitely go back. Parking was a huge pain in the culo, my only annoyance.


                      2. j
                        july2juni RE: marcbjohnson Nov 3, 2009 01:25 AM

                        I was searching last night and found this, it's called El Coqui, it's in Baltimore. I haven't been there personally.


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: july2juni
                          Bulldogg65 RE: july2juni Feb 23, 2010 08:51 AM

                          My wife and I did take out from El Coqui and it was pretty terrible. I mean, if you are Puerto Rican, appreciate authentic Puerto Rican food, AND have a craving that must be satasfied, I suppose it will do. This review is a bit dated, we ordered take out to preview the offererings prior to hosting a themed party at our house to coincide with a night of Puerto Rican boxing back in November. Needless to say we cooked ourselves.
                          The do not do any of the traditional fritas or fried appatizer style food like empanadias, bolitas de juca etc. Bummer since a couple of well made trays of these would really hit the mark a couple times a year. We did order the pernil (pork) and found it a bit flat in the flavor department, and not cooked well either. I prefer fall off the bone tender and this was not the case. We also ordered a few pasteles and were not impressed. I like juca pasteles stuffed with traditional seasoned meat and thought the texture of the juca in this case to be watered and mushy.

                          All in all, much like pizza and a good baseball team, quality traditional Puerto Rican food cannot be found in Baltimore or its surrounding area.

                          1. re: july2juni
                            bluepig1 RE: july2juni Mar 6, 2010 01:48 PM

                            Just tried calling their number as I was thinking about trying them tonight -- and the number appears to be disconnected. Any one know if they have closed for sure?

                          2. m
                            MDBBQFiend RE: marcbjohnson Mar 8, 2010 04:08 AM

                            Mio Restaurant on Vermont Avenue in DC does Puerto Rican dishes on Friday evening.

                            It's been recommended, but I haven't personally been there.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MDBBQFiend
                              monavano RE: MDBBQFiend Mar 14, 2010 07:05 AM

                              I've eaten at Mio on a Friday. Excellent.
                              Try anything cod, the pig and asopao in particular.
                              Parking is adjacent and I believe a good bargain at $7.

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