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Puerto Rican? Mofongo?

lkmuller Mar 6, 2010 08:18 AM

I am recently back from a trip to Puerto Rico where we ate some wonderful, local food. Are there any Puerto Rican restuarants in Boston? If not, are there any other restaurants that serve mofongo or similar cuisine?

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  1. Prav Mar 6, 2010 09:44 AM

    Merengue, in Dorchester, is a Dominican restaurant that serves Mofongo (aka mangu). While I'm not a mofongo fan, I think their rendition is probably the least dried out / bland.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Prav
      StriperGuy Mar 6, 2010 01:35 PM

      Hey Prav, Mangu is not Mofongo. Dominican mangu is made from boiled green bananas which are mashed. Sort of a gooey mashed potato for lack of a better comparison.

      Mofongo is made from deep fried plantains which are then mashed with garlic and oil and then sometimes refried into a canoa (canoe) if someone is being extra fancy.

      Most mofongo, if not made by someones grandmother can be a bit bland and heavy, but when it is good it is very good.

      1. re: StriperGuy
        Prav Mar 6, 2010 02:00 PM

        Oooh..thanks for clearing that up! I never was quite 100% sure.

        1. re: Prav
          elbev Mar 6, 2010 03:14 PM

          To clarify further: Mangu is a shapeless mash, as SG describes; Dominican (sometimes Cuban or Puerto Rican) and typically eaten for breakfast with eggs, meat, etc Canoa on the other hand is a totally different thing - a baked or fried whole plantain stuffed with picadillo and topped with cheese. Looks a bit like a canoe. Mofongo is the king of them all, and there is intense culinary nationalist debate over whether it is originally a Puerto Rican or Dominican dish. The classic version is served inside the mortar (or 'pilon') in which it is assembled, may or may not have chicharron (pork rind), and is filled with picadillo, saucy meat or seafood or even veg, or sometimes even more exotic things like guinea fowl or rabbit. Truly delicious stuff when done right.

          The best version I have had in a Boston area restaurant is at Miami Restaurant in JP, though it was not all that great. Had it once at El Oriental and it was horrible (dry, bland). Miami Cafe in Vlilla Victoria has, I think, the best Puerto Rican food in town, but not sure if they offer mofongo. Izzy's is decent in a pinch, but tends in general to be incredibly greasy, which I suspect would also be the case with the mofongo. The other places mentioned, which I think are all Dominican, are worth checking out. Really I think the best bet is to just have mofongo in NYC if possible. Several excellent places in various boroughs (see Mh and OBs list for details).

          1. re: elbev
            StriperGuy Mar 6, 2010 04:36 PM

            Mmmmmm you are mostly right. A Canoa de Mofongo is NOT a canoa.

            Canoa is as you described, Canoa de Mofongo is Mofongo, shaped like a canoe, then deep fried, and typically filled with shrimp or lobster.

            Oh, and Miami Cafe (Villa Victoria) is Dominican not Puerto Rican.

            Try some of the places in Lynn that I have posted about D'Leomar and I am forgetting the others if you like Dominican fair. For genuine Puerto Rican (not so different from Dominican) I have not had much luck in greater Boston.

            1. re: StriperGuy
              fredid Mar 7, 2010 04:59 AM

              I believe the Miami Cafe (in the South End/Agauadilla St off Tremont) is CLOSED - give a call!

              1. re: fredid
                MC Slim JB Mar 7, 2010 12:13 PM

                Miami Cafe in the South End closed over two years ago. I miss their oxtail stew.


                1. re: fredid
                  Alcachofa Mar 18, 2010 01:57 PM

                  Just to keep things clear (since I actually had to go back and re-read a few posts):

                  Miami Cafe, in the S.E./Villa Victoria is closed.

                  Miami Restaurant, in JP, is still open.

                  Also, apropos of nothing, Cuban food is much better than Dominican. ;-)

                  Miami Restaurant
                  381 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                2. re: StriperGuy
                  Aromatherapy Mar 7, 2010 05:14 AM

                  From the list: Lynn crawl: D'Leomar Restaurant, 228 Union St; La Fe, 189 Union; El Tipico, 29 Neptune Blvd

                  1. re: Aromatherapy
                    StriperGuy Mar 7, 2010 05:30 AM

                    To Fredid, I think you are right, it did close.

                    And thanks to Aromatherapy for the names of the excellent places in Lynn.

                  2. re: StriperGuy
                    galangatron Mar 7, 2010 04:07 PM

                    miami cafe was actually cuban

                    1. re: galangatron
                      StriperGuy Mar 7, 2010 04:49 PM

                      No it wasn't.

                      I am totally fluent in Spanish (Dominican, Puerto Rican, and several Spanish dialects) and I assure you, having spoken with the owners of Miami Cafe numerous times, they were Dominican!


                      I swear.

                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        galangatron Mar 7, 2010 05:06 PM

                        my mistake. i always thought it was a cuban restaurant

          2. MC Slim JB Mar 6, 2010 10:57 AM

            I echo the Merengue mofongo rec. I also recommend Izzy's, a little Kendall Square sub shop with very nice Puerto Rican specialties, like a lovely pernil (roast pork) plate on Fridays and Saturdays.


            2 Replies
            1. re: MC Slim JB
              pickledtink Mar 7, 2010 11:04 AM

              An enthusiastic 2nd for Izzy's!

              1. re: pickledtink
                StriperGuy Mar 7, 2010 04:49 PM

                I haven't been in about a year, but last time I went the quality had REALLY slipped. Back in the day it was pretty darned good.

            2. r
              robertlf Mar 6, 2010 11:19 AM

              El Oriental de Cuba offers mofongo but as you know is a Cuban restaurant. I have had mofongo there and in Puerto Rico. I'm not particular a big fan of mofongo (it's bland) but enjoy other Puerto Rican cuisine.

              1. m
                mwk Mar 6, 2010 01:24 PM

                It's more of a lunchtime takeout place than a restaurant, but the Cafe Latino restaurant in Government Center has a nice Mofongo plate. However, whenever I go, I usually get the Pernil plate, which is absolutely delicious and enough for two lunches.

                1. Infomaniac Mar 6, 2010 04:47 PM

                  Terra Luna Cafe in Lawrence has a shrimp mofongo dish that;s very good. The plantains are smashed with bacon with a tomato cream sauce. Excellent Creme Brulee also.

                  1. trufflehound Mar 7, 2010 07:22 AM

                    How about filling the Mofongo with Pernil and re-frying it like arancini?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: trufflehound
                      StriperGuy Mar 7, 2010 04:52 PM

                      There is something a bit in that direction. A classic Puerto Rican dish called Piononos which is coarsely ground beef, often with bits of olive, wrapped in thin slices of green plantains, and then either baked or fried. When done correctly (I've only had it at La Casita Blanca in San Juan in PR) it is truly amazing.

                    2. galangatron Mar 7, 2010 04:06 PM

                      i like izzy's in cambridge and cafe latino in government center for puerto rican food. i've never seen mofongo on the menu at la fe, d'leomar, and el tipico (all are cafeteria style) but rincon macorisano on washington street is a sit down restaurant and has several versions on the menu

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: galangatron
                        Taralli Mar 8, 2010 04:42 AM


                      2. Joanie Mar 8, 2010 05:43 AM

                        The Dominican restaurant between Forest Hills and Roslindale on Washington St. has it, don't know how it is.

                        1. itaunas Mar 17, 2010 02:35 PM

                          Although nobody actually suggested it for mofongo, some of the recommendations for Izzy's might be read as such. Although they have nice pretty pictures of mofongo on their placemats, Izzy's does not offer mofongo. I don't think Izzy's has changed all that much over the years -- Izzy and his wife run the front (the told me on one occasion their kids aren't interested) and at least part of their kitchen staff has been with them for more than 8 years. Some things are better than others, so are perhaps just inconsistent, but I don't think its changed much. The roast pork plates/sub, bistec encebollado, yellow rice, the chicarron de pollo (which hounds overlook), basic habichuelas. I am not a fan of the fried pork (shoulder) which is also served with the montanero instead of chicarron (otherwise the motanero is good), the cabrito can be a bit inconsistent both in seasoning, quality and doneness. Ditto the tostones -- from the fried stuff I might eat the relleno de papa or cod cakes, but not much. Its better than Cafe Latino which does have mofongo and crispy skin pork, but just isn't all that good quality. Izzy's is better seasoned and cooked with more care.

                          If you specifically want mofongo and Puerto Rican food, you should probably try Bella Isla Cafe in Chelsea. They have a large selection of mofongos and pretty good overall food, although some misses too and quite lousy chicarron de puerco. They don't have a large a la carte menu, mostly the mofongos, some plates in steam trays, and pernil/chicarron and a few things in a warming oven. Overall Izzy's is better.

                          The recommendation to try Dominican Restaurants is a good one, there is just a lot more selection -- from small takeout counters to full sit down restaurants. Lynn has the largest population and most options, Lawrence and Dorchester follow close behind. Some steam table and lunch counter restaurants offer mofongo a la carte. I have been (very) slowly chowing my way through Dominican restaurants in Lynn (no crawls unfortunately). Macorisano is probably the most sit down restaurant in Lynn and has more of a seafood focus (anybody know if they are from San Pedro or San Francisco de Macoris -- normally I would assume the former, but the seafood made me wonder). So far I enjoyed the mofongo at Rincon Criollo most (even though it had a bit of a margarine taste, although I thought it worked ok) which is mostly a bar (eg more men than women) but has a wide menu. I am hoping to try it at La Casa del Chimi on Chestnut near Union and also need to try it at Latino Restaurant in Chelsea -- on Broadway near Webster. Both of these are informal lunch counter places with some hits and some misses (chivo was quite good at Casa del Chimi, chicarron not so good, but better at Latino). In any case, if you go Dominican you have a lot of options...

                          Izzy's Restaurant
                          72 Spring St, New Bedford, MA 02740

                          Bella Isla Cafe
                          220 2nd St, Chelsea, MA 02150

                          Cafe Latino
                          2 Center Plz, Boston, MA 02108

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