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Maná Escondido Café - South End Puerto Rican

Happened upon these guys after a brunch at Gaslight and decided to poke my nose in to see how they're doing on day 3 or 4 of business.

Steam table up front hadn't quite hit its stride for the day yet but a Sunday constitutional mondongo was of course present. I grabbed a pint to-go and sat down to slurp a second brunch. A homey bowl of chopped tripe and trotters, the gravy is rich with marrow and a whisper of squash/pumpkin lending mostly spoon-coating texture, it's sabroso-sticky.

They didn't have a spare take-out menu, nor did they have much of the menu available yet, but they expect to get the website updated and have everything on offer in short order.

Nice folks.

68 Aguadilla Street
Boston, MA 02118

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    1. Popped back in to grab a take-out menu and noticed a pile of pollo fried up nice on the steam-table.

      More importantly, the one menu offering that grabs the attention is the jibarito - a Chicago invention, it's a roast pork, ham & steak (I'm thinking choice of said meat) sandwiched between two fried plantains schmeared with garlicky aioli, and likely lettuce and tomateos. I've only enjoyed this in Chicago and, while I'm not the biggest fan of this sandwich, it's certainly an interesting foodstory and a tasty one that has now made its way to the east coast.


      I shall return.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Nab

        Interesting, there are a couple of options for a tripleta (Don Frito, La Lechonera) but I haven't noticed a jibarito before. Those are green plantains, right, so although the shape might be different its basically a sandwich between tostones.

      2. The street name is perfect! Did they wait for an open storefront just so they could grab that name? I enjoyed my time in and around Aguadilla a lot. Will need to venture to the South End soon.

        1 Reply
        1. re: smtucker

          The restaurant is located in Villa Victoria the heart of the Puerto Rican community activism in the 60s-70s. By settling in that neighborhood they had a better than 50% chance of getting a street address that refers to Puerto Rico. :-) And yes, they may have had to wait for an open storefront but its where Miami Cafe used to be and that has been closed for a while.

        2. Eater threw up Slim's Improper review today. I'd missed the news that this place had even opened. There's been less fanfare than I'd have expected given the rarity of the cuisine within Boston proper.

          Any other reports...? I've been hurting since Cafe Latino shut down and I plan on heading over ASAP.

          1 Reply
          1. re: FinnFPM

            I am eating the Parneil right now, it's VERY tasty, skin not as crisp as Cafe Latino's, but it might be that they are still working out the kinks (it's flavorful as heck, but chewey too).

          2. I went over for lunch today. That's a fun place: there's a real sense of community there, which is a good thing (I hope) for a tiny little place like that in an otherwise residential block of buildings.

            Finally I can have yucca for lunch again!

            1 Reply
            1. re: FinnFPM

              I got crushed by a side of yucca at lunch there a couple of weeks ago. Not a tiny portion!


            2. Went here last night. My take on it:

              - Pernil: better, moister and more flavorful than Cafe Latino's, but I too would like to see that awesome crunch in the skin. Latino has that, but the pork itself is on the dry and bland side, and really needs some lime juice and hot sauce to zip it up.

              - Rice: decent but not as good as Cafe Latino's or Yely's.

              - People: super nice.

              They've got something really good going on here. I hope they get the popularity they deserve!

              3 Replies
              1. re: LilBrownBat

                Couldn't agree more, the pork meat itself was moist and flavorful, herbaceous even, but the rice was lite on pigeon peas, and the beans seemed to need more time in the pot (not underdone mind you, just underdeveloped in flavor and thickness)

                1. re: devilham

                  I assumed the moore "toothsome" bean style was intentional, but that's was just a guess. I frequently give the benefit of the doubt in that situation.

                  1. re: FinnFPM

                    Yeah, that just might be the texture they were looking for, and that's fine. Just spoiled by the now defunct Cafe Latino's great beans, and La Lechonare's even greater beans!!! Must adjust expectations!