Indulge your dreams of plantains, pigeon peas and roast pork at the Puerto Rican restaurant La Borincana.
The door is propped open and the late-day, late-summer sun brightens La Borincana. Teenagers squeezed into a booth stare at their cell phones. And a patron peers into the glass case that holds many of the specialties for which a Puerto Rican restaurant is known. Whole roast pork, links of morcilla (blood sausage), empanadas, boiled root vegetables, cheese dogs (like corn dogs), and fritters made with cornmeal, potato or root vegetables. Some are filled with cheese, others with ground beef.
Owner Carlos Ramos rings up the customer’s order. Back in the kitchen, Ramos’ wife, Santa Fret, keeps everyone fed. The restaurant offers “Plato Del Dia” – specials like Thursday’s codfish with salad and root vegetables.
You don’t have to wait for a special day to order a plato exquisito – which translates to “mouth-watering dish.” Pernil, or roast pork ($9.50), is one of them. Generous hunks of mellow-flavored meat come with rice cooked with pigeon peas (and infused with the smoky flavor of pork), fried plantains, and salad topped with the ubiquitous condiment blend of mayo and ketchup. Also, don’t walk out the door without a mofongo, a fried ball of mashed plantains that sings of garlic. Order it plain or with shrimp in a scampi-like sauce or with fried pork ($6.50-$15.95). As plantains are so prevalent in Puerto Rican cuisine, it seems only logical that a sandwich (made with pork or beef) could use pieces of plantain in place of bread. That’s called jibarito ($8), and it’s wonderful, again liberally condimented with pink ketch-mayo. Your plato exquisito awaits.
La Borincana 1820 S. 13th St., 414-672-0200. Hours: Lunch and dinner, daily. Prices: Entrées $8.50-$15.95. Service: Friendly, no-nonsense. Reservations: Needed only for large parties.