El Boricuazo is well known to Puerto Ricans (who call themselves Boricua) as the stage name of a radio and TV personality who knows everything about their history and culture. El Borikuazo, spelled with a K, is the name of an inconspicuous storefront restaurant devoted to the presentation of Puerto Rican food. With images of the island’s stripes-and-triangle flag and folk art on the walls and a staff that is more comfortable speaking Spanish than English, it is a wonderful taste of the unique “cocina criolla” that combines influences from Spain, Africa, Latin America, and the native Tainos.
Probably the best-known signature dish on a Puerto Rican table is mofongo — a dense mash of fried green plantains, garlic, olive oil, and spice that is formed into a tight round to be eaten on the side or as a main course. In the former role, its ability to sop up gravy is a treasured quality. As an entree, it frequently pairs with something savory — smoked pork, roast chicken, skirt steak, or shrimp; and at El Borikuazo it can be had with one of several interesting sauces: Creole, chimichurri, garlic, butter, guava. Another must-eat dish from the isle of enchantment is Arroz mamposteao, a triumph at El Borikuazo. It’s a rich, flavorful mélange of rice, beans, peppers, plantains, and bacon.
Sauce plays a big part in many of this kitchen’s meals. Grilled chicken breast “El Boricuazo,” which includes a trio of bacon-wrapped shrimp, comes lolling in buttery, gentle-tempered alfredo mojo sauce. There’s more than enough sauce, so it’s good to ask for a side order of mofongo on the same plate to help gather up all the marvelous flavors. One day’s special mofongo — with both shrimp and a broad slab of steak — is glazed with vivid chimichurri sauce. A thick round of grilled pork tenderloin veritably glows red-orange in its Creole sauce.
Nothing on the menu is stark. Skirt steak is served with pineapple and cranberry chimichurri. Pork tenderloin medallions come in fruit sauce. Penne pasta is laced with bacon and sweet plantains, dressed with a sauce of white wine, mojo cream, and Parmesan cheese. While it is possible to get a regular hamburger, it’s hard to resist the “El Borizuazo” burger, which is made up of grilled chicken and beef and served with fried onions and a full complement of condiments.
Drinks are intriguing. Among non-alcoholic options are fruit juices (mango, passion fruit, guanabana, etc.), a non-alcoholic pina colada, and malt soda. Adult beverages include Cuba libre, house sangria, multiple mojito flavors, and several clever short shots. Among the shots are ones called Birthday Cake, B-52, Melon Ball, and Blow Job. That last one is layers of amaretto and Bailey’s topped with a swirl of whipped cream.