Don Frito Everett (Chelsea line) initial visit
I was able to check out Don Frito a Puerto Rican trailer on Beacham St across from the New England Produce Center -- "fritos y comida criolla". While some of the outside signage is somewhat temporary, the inside is much nicer than it was as a Salvadoran taco stop (it was a middle eastern restaurant in between which I didn't get to check out). It looks like its been open all summer. They have about 6 tables, a laptop playing bachata at moderate volumes. There is a daily rotation of meat specials (4 listed per-day, but didn't seem to have that many ready) and appeared to have some substitutions. For $7.75-$8.50 you get meat, rice, beans and I believe a small salad.
Some interesting things. They offer a tripleta on the sandwich menu and also apparently have cuajito on the Wednesday menu (again, they definitely weren't to the letter for daily specials when I visited) which I would like to try. As I mentioned on the openings thread, they offer lechon assado on Saturdays.
The list of fried items is reasonably long and now having seen it, I should have asked if you can order a la carte because they only had 5 items in the case. emparrillada de carne, pollo, papa rellena, alcapurria de yuca, and one more fried emparrillada.
Overall I expected more from the food and it was greasy, but I did really like their seasonings. The emparrillada de carne was the better "frito" and they might make their own dough (or at least its not the goya masa para empanadas fritas). The alcapurria was tasty, but a bit greasier. Chicharron de cerdo was a bit overdone and they heat it to order, but the skin was crispy and not tough. Chicharron de pollo had good seasoning, but fried a bit too much and not enough skin. The cerdo wasn't quite as good as some Dominican and Columbian places, but better than Bella Isla. Izzy's de pollo was more preferable. I did enjoy a fried chicken leg, which came with quite a lot of breading. Yellow rice had habichuelas and not gandules -- decent, less greasy than Cafe Latino, but I prefer Izzys with the gandules and more onion. They had roast chicken in the warming case and I didn't see the pernil, but its offered all days and I was there on the early side. There were one or two things which might be made to order on certain days like "bistec encebollado"
Since Bella Isla involves less potholes and avoids delays turning onto 99, it'll still be my first choice. And while I can forgive some greasyness, there was a bit too much overcooking for my likes. However, there are a few things which are going to draw me back, the lechon, tripleta, cuajito, and other fried items, as well as the pernil.
gourmaniac, thanks for the good words as I also enjoy your posts. I did see the initial report on La Lechonera Cafe and your follow up. Since I have been slowly moving back to the area, I haven't made it there (or a lot of interesting places) yet but was hoping to make a weekend visit. BTW, there is also a reasonably new Haitian restaurant on 99 in Everett which had an interesting menu so its probably ahead of a return visit to Don Frito.
Thanks for this, very informative as usual. I'm not out that way as much as I used to be, but I'll check it out (or maybe Bella Isla instead). Two questions for you about places in that general area. There's a breakfast place somewhere around there, perhaps in the Produce Center. There's a sign for it when you take that pothole-y street from Beacham to 2nd, past the various fruit wholesalers. Do you know anything about it? Second, I saw that the diner that had sat empty on Rt.99 (Phyllis's) has some new life. Perhaps a Brazilian place? Just caught a glimpse as I drove by.
deglazer I want to like Don Frito and will give it a few more chances, but there were definitely some misses. Bella Isla has mofongos and more of a "sit-down" menu (although its also cafeteria style serving), while Don Frito naturally has a wider selection of fried items (assuming they will fry to order things which aren't in the warming oven) as well as the lechon. Lynn has some good Dominican options, but further, and Latino Restaurant in Chelsea is similar to Don Frito but a bit more consistent (sometimes greasy, but less overcooking).
You have a good eye regarding Tropical Cafe, its a Brazilian restaurant which started in Marlborough and (although most of their locations don't sell alcohol) specializes in what I would call "bar food" -- soups including with offal, snacks, but has other a la carte options. I haven't tried the Everett location yet and am up for a refresh on their food, but did enjoy them in Marlborough.
I do some business around the NEPC, but haven't been inside in several years. I remember there being two restaurant spaces. One is Baltic Cafe which I have been curious about and I think there is still a greasy spoon there too. Hours are something like 11pm-7am, and I wouldn't expect either open after about 10am. For Central Americans there are good bakeries and some decent breakfast options in Chelsea, some Italians around there go to private clubs in Everett and Malden (such as for an Espresso, but you can have a similar experience at Cafe Toscano in Medford), and I suspect some produce tied folks go to the Bosnia club in Everett too. So your best options for food and regular schedule are outside the area.