Monday Meals: Puerto Rican

RF and I have been running around like crazy chickens lately.  I have several big deadlines looming over the next couple of weeks, and he has been working on several big projects too.  Suffice it to say, we haven’t been cooking a lot.  However, we did take time out for dinner with friends this weekend and landed on a great new restaurant: La Isla.

LaIsla

OK, not new…but new to us.  I am also not certain that I’ve ever been to a dedicated Puerto Rican restaurant.  How is that possible?!  I know that I’ve had Puerto Rican dishes at festivals and street fairs but, sadly, a dedicated restaurant hasn’t made the regular list.  I do mean sadly, because the food was incredibly delicious and they have lots of amazing gluten-free options.

La Isla actually began at the Fremont Sunday Market, a popular food, craft, flea market here in Seattle.  Within a couple of years they expanded to a storefront in Ballard, and have since opened a second location on Seattle’s Eastside in Redmond.  One bite and it was easy understand the popularity!

To start, I had the alcapurrias. Green banana is ground to a fine masa, filled with either ground beef or veggies (I ordered beef), then deep fried and served with a spicy house made pique sauce.  They have an unusual appearance, and I would have sworn that they were deep-fried in traditional batter had I not read otherwise.  The exterior didn’t taste of bananas at all – it had an unexpectedly toasty flavor with a cornbread-like consistency.  The ground beef inside was moist with a flavor similar to that of an empanada, which is what our dining partners chose.  My only regret was that the alcapurria didn’t have cheese.

alcapurrias

For my entree, I had a difficult time choosing between the mofongo, pionono or pastelón.  All are plantain-based dishes with various methods of layering different combinations of pork, chicken, prawns, chicharrón, cheese, spices, etc.  Described as a Puerto Rican style lasagna, I couldn’t resist the pastelón.  Sweet plantains are fried and layered with spicy pulled pork and salty mozzarella cheese.  As a huge fan of sweet/savory combos, it was a perfect pick, especially when served with salad, rice and beans, fried plantains, and a side of creamy garlic sauce.

pastelon

With a hearty box of leftovers in hand, I still left completely stuffed.  Not even a tiny bit of room for flan!  If you live in Seattle, or if there’s a Puerto Rican restaurant in your town that you’ve been meaning to try, don’t delay!  We will definitely be heading back to La Isla again very soon.

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