Excited about an upcoming vacation in a couple of weeks, the boyfriend and I decided to seek out an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant this weekend to get acquainted with flavors of the Caribbean. While there are many Caribbean restaurants in town specializing in Cuban, Jamaican, even Haitian cooking, there weren’t many Puerto Rican spots to choose from. Luckily, I had become e-friends with a recent transplant who pointed me in the direction of Mofongos Comida Caribena in North Hollywood’s Arts District.
I’ve been planning this vacation like a crazy person for a few months now so I knew which dishes in particular I was in search of. No trip to PR would be complete without a taste of authentic mofongo as well as a hearty dish of pork goodness. When we saw the menu for Mofongos (which looked a lot like many of the authentic menus we have perused online of places in San Juan,) we knew we needed to give it a try. We hopped on the Metro Red Line by our place in Hollywood and within 10 minutes we were in North Hollywood. It was only a couple of blocks away from the station, which was very convenient.
The exterior alone made me smile. Simple, but decked out in a bright yellow color that is reminiscent of the brightly colored buildings in Old San Juan. The interior was going through some renovations so only part of the dining room was available, providing a cozy local feel. There was one guy running the show; an incredibly personable young dude who was very friendly and informative to boot. It was comforting to see that the place was packed in the middle of a Friday afternoon and that the folks working there were actually from Puerto Rico (aforementioned guy is from Ponce, PR).
We opted for the following dishes, all of which were very inexpensive and came in generous portions: lechon asado with white rice and red beans, chicharron de pollo (fried chicken) mofongo with salad and sweet maduros, and an appetizer of rellenos de papa. My lechon had good flavor, although a bit dry. It didn’t have much fat in it which probably caused some of the dryness. Boyfriend’s mofongo was rich and very flavorful. The seasoning on the chunks of chicken were very vibrant and the meat was tender and juicy.
My two favorite parts of the meal however, were the amazing rellenos de papa and the queso flan. The rellenos were deep fried balls of mashed potatoes stuffed with seasoned meat. OH. MY. I think all bars should have this on their menus…total guilty pleasure snack right here. The flan was firm and perfect; more akin to the Filipino style leche flan rather than the silkier Mexican custard version that jiggles.
We left the place so stuffed we could barely get up. I’m looking forward to my next visit after we return from the island of enchantment so we can compare how this local joint holds up next to the real deal.
Mofongos Comida Caribena is located at 5757 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.