Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Welcome Back, Mofongos: The Grand Reopening of LA's Only Puerto Rican Restaurant

Imagine the delight of finally eating at a Puerto Rican restaurant in Los Angeles County.

But imagine the disappointment of finding out that the first time may have been the last, at least for a long while.

When Mofongos closed about three months ago, I thought for sure that Los Angeles just wasn't meant to have a Puerto Rican restaurant. Ever. Fortunately, Chef/Owner AC knew that his customers weren't going to take no for an answer and kept us updated via a Facebook fan page. "Mofongos will be back..." he wrote, asking his 600+ fans for prayers over the span of the last couple of months as he hunted down a new location for his restaurant. Then one day in October I read the following post: "Wild change of fate! We'll be back at the old cafe but this time it's gonna say Mofongos en frente!" Wow, who would've thought...Facebook can be useful!

AC's mami greeted us with a loud and warm "¡Bienvenidos!" as we walked into the former La Espiga Cafe space which had since been revamped into a space that's much more characteristic of Boricua pride. The walls had been repainted a vibrant peach color that's reminiscent of the bright sherbety pastels literally seen all over La Isla Del Encanto itself. More specifically, she described it as the color of quenepas, a lychee-like fruit with peach-colored flesh that's common in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican mementos such as a pilón de madera, the wooden mortar and pestle traditionally used to make mofongo, and an old box of dominoes bearing the Puerto Rican flag are proudly showcased in a glass case in the corner. A menuboard carrying, chefs whites wearing ceramic pig sits atop the counter and is perhaps a bit cliché but its message "Mi Casa Es Su Casa" says everything about the homey, friendly vibe of this newly reopened restaurant.

The food, more importantly, was just as delicious as before. Mofongo con carne guisada satisfied my craving for garlicky, chicharrony (is that even a word?) goodness.

Pollo guisado was a hearty stew of chicken and sofrito was good by itself, but was even better with a side of arroz con habichuelas (rice with stewed pink beans) and tostones (fried green plantains) that I personally used to sop up extra sauce on my plate.

But the star of our meal was the restaurant's pernil, roasted pork shoulder, whose low-and-slow-cooked fork tender meat and perfectly browned garlicky crust were gobbled up before anyone could say "más."

A good sized hunk of budin (Puerto Rican bread pudding), subtley sweetened with evaporated milk and cinnamon and dotted with raisins, ended our meal.

Continuous streams of customers came through Mofongos during our lunch on the restaurant's grand reopening day. It was a sign that all things Puerto Rican--whether it be the food, the smiles, the music, the atmosphere, or anything else one may have at one point experienced on La Isla Del Encanto--were missed in LA, even if only for three months. Welcome back, Mofongos!


5757 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 754-1051
Now open from 10am-10pm daily!

Mofongos on Urbanspoon

**Please be sure to read my first post about Mofongos when it was still operating out of La Espiga Cafe!**


weezermonkey said...

My friend Glam is going to be even more excited than I am about this!

Banana Wonder said...

This is fantastic! I've been itching to try mofongo. Thanks for your post =)

Diana said...

Ahh and I don't even have to drive 20+ miles to eat there! Even better! :) Thanks so much for sharing your new find!

glutster said...

How awesome!

What does your hubby have to say about this place though?

..and do you know if they have Mangu?!

SinoSoul said...

more importantly, do they have the bootilicious PR women in tight white pants so ubiquious in San Juan? The Pernil looks right up my alley.

BeckyO said...

you have made my year! I miss my grandmother's puertorican cooking, and I cannot WAIT to check this place out!!! Do you know if they also serve Mondongo (a rich hearty soup) or lechon (whole roasted pig, typically cooked in the ground) or Arroz con Gandules? I'll just have to go and find out myself!!! Thank you!!!

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

I am so glad you brought to my attention that Mofongos was open! I went this week and fell in love. I loved the Mofongo with Carne Guisado, the broth the meat everything was perfect! I wish there were more Puerto Rican places in LA i am dying for some Pan de Mallorca!

Stylin' Threads said...

I live right around the corner & let me tell you. the food is fresh & delicious. The salads are made with the best greens & not the cheap iceberg lettuce. I particularly love the chicken strips. Get a combo meal as they include rice & beans to your entree for the best value. I will have to try more things as it all looks great. Their nice people & I wish them future success.
It's a small place & you might be waiting but the food is so worth it. I'm Italian & I have fallen in love with Puerto Rican cooking. Try it!!!

Unknown said...

This is like a dream come true. I am Puerto Rican from Chicago, and there were always PR restaurants there, but when I moved to LA, I only found one PR restaurant, and it was in Cypress, too far to drive to, so when I heard about Mofongos, I was soooo very excited, then I went and was even more excited because it was really good!!!

Viagra Online Without Prescription said...

I love Puerto Rico restaurants, their food I found it so attractive to my appetite, I am so happy when I go there, I am always requesting something really hot that anyone could desire.

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