Scouting for restaurants we haven't written up, we came across this one south on Grandville Avenue. As we got close, we started to recall being here before some years ago and when we walked in, we were sure of it. At that time we took a look around, no one was there, employees or customers, the buffet looked closed, and we walked out. Today we stayed and were glad we did.
The small space holds about 8 tables for 4, and again, there were no customers there but we were eating a very late lunch. Three employees were on hand, however, and we were immediately greeted by a server to take our beverage orders (it's bottled water or cans of soda). Music was blaring so loud when we walked in we knew we had to say something. But before we could, our server turned it down.
That server was replaced with another who brought us our menus and was incredibly friendly and informative. He let us take our time and had helpful suggestions. The buffet was available but we tend to avoid buffets. Ordering off the menu, we started with a recommendation, Tostones Rellenos, stuffed fried plantains with miscellaneous vegetables, spices, & chicken. Wow ~ we could eat these everyday.
Contrary to our usual ordering practices, we ordered our main dishes before our appetizer arrived and that turned out to be a smart move. This chef is making everything from scratch and we were there one hour before our entrees arrived. While we were waiting, several customers came in for take-out orders and another couple entered to dine in. Everyone knew everyone else, except us :-) Then a gentleman entered who greeted the seated couple, walked into the kitchen where he greeted the staff, and walked back out holding what looked like a potato. He joined the seated couple. After a few minutes, he walked over to our table and told us there was one Alcapurria left and in 5 minutes if we didn't order it, he would. How could we resist? He said it was more addictive than Lay's potato chips ~ you can't eat just one.
So we said yes, we wanted it, and he promptly went into the kitchen and got it for us. We sliced it up to share it. And this item, mashed up plaintain crust, briefly deep fried, and stuffed with pork & spices, was incredibly tasty. This friendly man soon left, saying he had to meet a client. Then our main dishes arrived ~ Bistec ala criollo ~ sauteed skirt steak with veggies, Puerto Rican rice (server recommended), and salad with a lovely oil & vinegar dressing.
The other was a dish offered for two, Bohio Criollo ~ skirt steak, chicken & shrimp sauteed with green peppers, red onion, and mushrooms. It was a work of art, and massive! Matt & Rachael shared it and took huge take-home boxes. They also split an accompanying salad.
We all added hot sauce (provided on the table) to our dishes. The food is loaded with flavor but not with heat so we adjusted accordingly. A little while after our dishes arrived, the chef came to our table to ask if we liked the food. That was wonderful, personal service. The fairly large menu is in Spanish with English translations and contains entrees, sandwiches, appetizers & sides. Just ask your server (or restaurant customers) for help navigating the menu. Highly recommended for the authentic food and great sense of community. We were asked if we'd be back and we promised we would.