I longo for my mofongo. 😀
Hey! Guy Fierri said it first…on one show of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” (fried episode). He was remembering a dish he ate at a Puerto Rican restaurant on one of his “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” show episodes. I remember seeing that original episode and thinking: “wow, that must be awesome”. Then I remember seeing that same show rerun and wondering if I would ever get to eat something like that. I mean, Puerto Rico is pretty far away, specially when you spend all the time/money to travel back home to Croatia, as much as you can. And it isn’t like Salt Lake is full of Caribbean joints. Or for that matter, it’s not like it’s full of good dives and good small local restaurants either. There is some, but I long for a “foodie’ tour on the East Coast. Or in the Bay area. Now, I may totally be wrong here, so if you are a foodie and know of great places in SLC, please, please, please say so in a comment. I would love to check them out!
But. Not everything is lost. We do have some good places. Like Red Iguana, a Mexican restaurant. I can’t wait to go there again and take some photos to show you. And this one, one I recently discovered. It is called Adobos Caribbean Grill and it is a little gem. We went there a couple of weeks ago with some friends of ours and we really loved the food. That first time that we came in, I was still staring at the menu when server showed up to ask us about our drink orders, so I just blurted: “a diet coke”. And then I saw their drink menu with pina coladas, coco loco (pina colada with mangos), fruit punch and sangria. All freshly made. Then I ordered the fruit punch and shared it with my son, we both liked it. You can taste it is fresh and not the store bought stuff.
This time I ordered sangria and I loved it. It was perfectly cold and fruity. I am not a big fan of wines, but I am always for a sangria. This was a good one. I forgot I was supposed to take pictures and drank half of it (plus I ate the pretty orange decoration) so it was not very attractive looking when I finally remembered to take photos. And the photos. Well. I know they are not the best, but there was a lot of people in the restaurant when we went in for our lunch and we couldn’t get a table anywhere near the windows, so the pictures are what they are. Sorry.
Last time we were there we had three different appetizers. We had the Pan con ajo,Beef picadillo empanadas and Yuca alcapurrias.Pan con ajo is a pressed Cuban bread brushed w/ Fresh garlic, Olive oil & salt. It had a very nice flavor. Of course it did, olive oil and garlic, one of the best flavors there is. But the bread is very thinly sliced and it was just a little bit on a dry side. All in all, nice bread, but not something I would want to order again, considering other stuff they offer. The other two appetizers we ordered again this time, they were so good we didn’t even want to experiment with anything else. Maybe someday when we get enough of them first!
Beef picadillo empanadas are empanadas filled with Cuban beef picadillo with cheese and surrounded by a flaky crust. Oh. My. God. Where have you been all my life???? This is the most delicious little bundle I have had in a long while. Just so you know – I am an empanada virgin. Never had those before. And I think I might have had an orgasm in my mouth from that first bite. They bring them on the table steaming hot, served on a plate with little drizzle of island and cilantro mojo. Mojo is a sauce based on garlic and olive oil, some kind of citrus juice and spices. Cilantro mojo obviously has – cilantro in it, and it is a beautiful, fresh and slightly sweet sauce. I would kill to know what they put in the Island mojo. I want bucket-fulls of that. Empanadillas and mojos. The things that they do for each other are just amazing. The mojo lifts this dish from awesome to amazing!!!
These fried goodies are filled with little bit of ground beef mixed with cheese, and that cheese isn’t too noticeable, but what it does do is make for a very creamy and interesting texture. The dough is flaky, beautifully salty and melts like butter in your mouth. Seriously. You take a bite of this empanadilla, and within seconds in your mouth the dough is melted with the beef and cheese into a beautiful goodness that you just want to last forever. They give you two. I want eight. I like them so much that one time I will go there just to order several of these and that will be the only thing that I will eat. Even my husband can’t stop talking about them, and he isn’t one to talk much about the food once that it isn’t in front of him.
The otker appetizer we had was Yuca alcapurrias, which in lack of better description, look like giant fried mozzarela sticks. But boy was I in for a surprise. It is ground yuca seasoned with traditional Caribbean spices & Annatto, stuffed with Cuban picadillo. I did a little research and they don’t always shape them like that, sometimes they come in patties, but I love these sticks.
They are heavy! That was my first surprise when I picked on up. They are very crunchy on the outside and when you bite into it you get to the beef picadillo inside, which makes a great contrast to the outside with its softness, and I feel like it’s almost getting to a reward. Not that it’s any kind of effort to bite into a great crunchy fried yuca. If you have any problems doing it, call me any time. I will do it for you. 🙂
As with the empanadas, the filling is similar and very flavorful. It isn’t quite as creamy, because they don’t put cheese in this mixture. But it is still delicious with all the spices they put inside. It doesn’t come with a dipping sauce or any mojo drizzled on it, so if you go there and want to try this, ask for a little mojo on the side. Beautiful stuff.
And, finally, we get to the main dish. Last time my husband had a fried steak with rice and beans. The steak was very, very tender. It had a little bit of citrus rind on it as well as drizzle of cilantro mojo which made it so much better than any fried steak I ever had growing up. And I had some good cooking from my mommy!
He wanted to try something else today, but he didn’t want mofongo. I think he is not crazy about the idea of mashed plantains. He has texture issues. He decided on El Cubano, a roasted pork shoulder sandwich with sweet ham, swiss cheese, pickles, Mayo & mustard, all on a pressed Cuban bread. I always wanted to try this sandwich too, so I was happy he ordered it. But. I think the problem was that it had cubed pork shoulder in it, instead of shredded pork. Which would make it more juicy. While just the cubed pork left it somewhat dry. Very flavorful, but a little bit dry.
Since I loved the flavors in this sandwich, I think I will try making a version of it at home, but with shredded pork. One plus this sandwich had, as opposed to the one with shredded pork, was the crackling skin on some pieces of cubed pork. That is delicious. Maybe I should make a side of that too… 🙂
And last but not least, for sure.My main dsish – Mofongo. Do you know what a mofongo is? Because for most of my life I had no clue! It is a dish made by smashing together some fried plantains, garlic, pork cracklings and olive oil. Since looking it up on the internet I’ve learned it can be served in many ways, as a side to sea stews or a ‘bowl’ base for variety of sea food, chicken, pork or beef. The meat usually comes fried on top. Not battered though. This is the way I tried it so far.
In the past, at Adobos, I had Carne Frita Mofongo, which is boneless pork sirloin fried until crispy and served with onions, cilantro mojo and little bit of a tomato based sauce. This was my first mofongo, and I wanted to sing. It was just Succulent. Where have you been all my life mofongo? So simple, so delicious?! Then I tried it with fried fish. The Filete de Mero a la criolla. This mofongo is made with filet of grouper seasoned with Caribbean adobo, sautéed with island mojo. It was very different than carne frita. Milder because of the flaky white fish, but it had more of that delicious sauce on and it was even juicier, soI told myself, I will always get this one. Until this time. This time I had what my friend originally recommended, but then I really wanted to try the fired pork. This time I had Chicharrones de pollo! Crispy marinated chicken chunks topped with island mojo on top of that wonderful mofongo and all topped with that delicious sauce. I don’t really know how to describe that sauce. It’s exotic! I mean, I know it is red and it is tomato based. But it is sweeter than a regular tomato sauce and more garlicy. And it has some wonderful spices that I will have to put some research into. Because oh yeah, I am making this baby at home. I am ordering the wooden mortar (or what they call pilon in Puerto Rico) and this will happen! I am going to have to wait to come back from my vacation though. But mofongo and me, we have a date.
This chicken mofongo? The one on the photos? It makes my top 10 best ever dishes. It just does. It has the spice I like, plenty of garlic, the sweetness from the plantain and the sauces. Chicken was incredibly juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. I am not kidding you, it was like the most flavorful chips you have ever had. The only problem with it was that I wanted to keep eating it but after all the appetizers, there was just not enough room left in me. But, oh boy, did I enjoy me some leftovers the next day!
I have read some reviews about this restaurant where the reviewers didn’t think much of the service in this place. I get it why,but I don’t agree. It isn’t your typical restaurant, so please know that when you are going. It is a laid back atmosphere. People actually enjoy their meals there and there is no rush to get in and out, and servers take a little bit more time than in your usual chain restaurant setting. But this is part of why I love this place so much, it reminds me of home. You go out and eat, and you enjoy everything, from start to finish. Including that little rest after your meal and a cup of nice coffee. They let you be there without any stress and rushing, they are not around you seven times in ten minutes like something is wrong because you are not up and gone yet. So, do go and try, and relax. Enjoy the atmosphere and amazing food!