West Palm Beach is not exactly a hotbed of Puerto Rican food. For the most part, those who love mofongo, tostones, and sorullitos
in the city have been grabbing their favorite dishes de la Isla de Encanto
from small cafés and food trucks. That's why chef Brian Domínguez, owner of Casa Borinquen in Hollywood
, is opening a an outpost.
"We want to take Puerto Rican fare to a new culinary level in West Palm Beach," Domínguez says. "There were many Latinos
traveling to Hollywood to taste our food, and when we found this location [on North Haverhill Road], only a short distance from the Rapids Water Park and the Fitteam Ball Park, we saw great potential in feeding their employees, patrons, and all the locals interested in trying new flavors."
Domínguez, a Puerto Rico native whose father ran restaurants on the island, opened Casa Borinquen in 2002, and its combination of bueno
, bonito y barato
quickly made the spot a must-visit.
The restaurant's West Palm Beach location will occupy 4,000 square feet and offer seating for 150 guests, along with a full bar and an area for live music. A mural of photographs of Puerto Rican personalities such as Roberto Clemente, Benicio del Toro, and Hector Lavoe, will be the restaurant's centerpiece, complementing its casual and colorful decor.
The menu comprises family recipes that are a complex mix of French, African, and Spanish flavors brought together with strong seasoning. Domínguez himself runs the kitchen, where the pernil (
pork shoulder) is cooked for five hours, the conch is left to marinate for a whole day, and everything else is made from scratch, including appetizers such as eight versions of tostones ($6.95), deep-fried pork chunks ($7.95), sweet corn fritters ($5.95), and alcapurrias
, made here with fresh yuca, taro roots, and plantain and stuffed with meat, crab, or veggies ($3).
Casa Borinquen West Palm Beach.
Entrée highlights are the chuleta can-can, made with cuts of pork rib, loin, and belly ($18.95); conch salad vinaigrette cooked in creole sauce and served with an aranita basket that includes crisp shredded plantains ($17.95); and mar y tierra, a family-style plate with skirt steak, shrimp, octopus, conch, fried pork chunks, fried chicken chunks, tostones, and mofongo ($99.95).
Casa Borinquen's list of offerings also includes sandwiches such as the jibarito burger, swapping a regular bun for flattened fried green plantains ($11.95); Puerto Rico's version of gumbo — asopao —
made with peas ($13.95), chicken ($11.95) or shrimp ($14.95); and the classic mofongo relleno
, a mash of green plantain with pork skin, garlic, oil and seasoning topped with options such as deep-fried chicken ($9.95), pork ($11.95), or fish chunks ($15.95). As for beverages, guests will be able to sip on Puerto Rican soft drinks such as Malta Indía, Coco Rico, and Piña Buena for $2.25 each.
Domínguez, who runs operations with his wife Marianne, says he's scouring cities such as Coral Springs, Coconut Creek, West Miramar, and Miami Lakes for future locations. "Over the next two years, we want to offer our food as far as Orlando."
Casa Borinquen. 3897 N. Haverhill Rd., West Palm Beach; 561-223-3955; casaborinquen.com. Lunch and dinner Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.