La Placita: Puerto Rican food and Dominoes with Chef Jose Mendin
It was Tuesday, and La Placita in MiMo was hosting their Domino Tournament, a weekly event that is held in the outdoor patio seating area from 7 -10 pm. Chef/Owner of Pubbelly and La Placita, Jose Mendin, was there to defend his title, but so were a dozen or more fellow food industry professionals along with some regular passionate players, so the event took on a competitive, yet very festive turn.
We were there for dinner, but it was hard not to stroll outside to see what was happening and to cheer on the players.
La Placita, opened just this year to much fanfare and even more controversy. The building was painted with a huge Puerto Rican flag mural, to celebrate the heritage and resiliency of the Puerto Rican people. The city claims it was painted without all the necessary permits from the Historical and Environment Preservation Board and as recently as March the Placita owners lost the first round in the courts. An online petition to keep the mural has garnered over 100,000 signatures.
The restaurant has had some mixed reviews in terms of food, but on the evening we were there, both the food and ambiance felt authentic and was very good. Large extended families were celebrating birthdays, and in addition to us, there were groups of two and four obviously enjoying themselves in the colorful surroundings filled with Puerto Rican mementos and décor.
Our server was very helpful in explaining and suggesting what to order and we settled on three starters. Alcapurrias with Escabeche de pulpo were tender marinated octopus with 4 large tostones and were very good. The Croquetas de Fricassee Chicken, were hot and full of spicy chicken and came with a creamy dipping sauce. The Sorulittos de Maiz, corn fritters came with a cheese foam to dip.
For main dishes we decided on the traditional Pastelon de Asado, which is a sort of Puerto Rican “lasagne” with layers of sweet plantain, short rib and béchamel sauce. It was not too sweet and chock full of tender short rib with bubbling cheesy béchamel on top.
We also ordered the Lechon Asado de la Casa, which came as a dense square of roasted pork with mojo and chicharron and a side of rice and red beans.
A Spanish Seafood Stew was chock full of fish, shrimp and included a lobster tail in a tomato base over rice, corn and vegetables. And the Chillo Entero, was a crispy whole fried snapper with a light garlic sauce.
All the dishes were flavorful and well prepared and presented. And felt very much like real homestyle cooking, although some of the prices seemed a bit high for traditional comfort food.
We did not try this visit the Puerto Rican classic, Mofongo, of which there are seven proteins to choose from to top the platano green plantain or platano, yuca and sweet plantain base.
Desserts were sweet and also traditional featuring Tres Leches, Bread Pudding, Arroz Con Dulce, Flan and Tambelque, which was a lime and rum custard topped with toasted coconut and pineapple.
If you go, expect a relatively high noise level, a fun, party- like atmosphere, and some good food inspired by our fellow US citizens to the South.
And on Tuesdays, a very spirited night of dominoes.
6789 Biscayne Blvd.
305 400 8173
Valet parking on site for $7