La Cocina Puertorriqueña: Puerto Rican Cuisine With a Dash of Dominican Flair | Clean Plate Charlie | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Restaurant Reviews

La Cocina Puertorriqueña: Puerto Rican Cuisine With a Dash of Dominican Flair

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Plato boricua is another favorite at the restaurant. It's a large plate filled with baked, shredded pork topped with strips of lightly sautéed onion, rice, pigeon peas, and a pastel -- stewed shredded pork encased in adobo-and-cumin-seasoned plantain dough cooked in a banana leaf.

Although the dish is offered here every day of the year, it's customarily served only around Christmas and on special occasions.

"It's a traditional dish," De Jesus says. "We normally eat it from November through January and on birthdays. I eat it almost every day. People love it."

Somewhat similar to the pastel is the alcapurria. It's another classic dish of plantain dough stuffed with meat, but fried rather than boiled or steamed. The sweet, crisp exterior envelops juicy seasoned meat. Here, it's available with ground beef (alcapurria de res) or crabmeat (alcapurria de jueyes).

Be sure to request the hot sauce -- but only if you can handle spice. Neither De Jesus nor Sanchez will divulge the secret chili used, but the fruity flavor and slow-growing, fiery kick indicate most likely Scotch bonnets. It's a phenomenal accent to the alcapurria and the plato boricua's roast pork.

In addition to typical home-cooked fare, the restaurant offers guests a taste of Puerto Rican tunes. Sanchez is enthralled by the island's culture and music.

"It's my passion," Sanchez says as he proudly points to a wall with framed photos of performers and famous Puerto Rican artists who have visited the restaurant.

Every Friday night, customers fill the dance floor as they move to the sounds of a live salsa band, and once a month, Sanchez brings in Los Barrileros de Cangrejo, a local group specializing in bomba y plena, an Afro-Puerto Rican style that combines Spanish narratives with African rhythms and drums.

Even though the restaurant and entertainment are all about the culture and cuisine of the Isle of Enchantment, both Sanchez and De Jesus love to expose new customers to the fare and traditions.

"We get some tourists like Canadians looking to learn. And we get a lot of mixed Dominican and Puerto Rican couples and families like us," Sanchez says with a laugh. "If we can, we'll throw together a Dominican dish to make sure both of them are happy."

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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Sara Ventiera

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