Salsa Verdes Pork

House White (Casa Blanca Restaurant and Bar)

Casa Blanca Restaurant and Bar, 140 Washington Street, Trenton, NJ
Open 7 Days, 11 AM to 2 AM (Kitchen closes at midnight)
(609) 571-1976   Website    Google Maps

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Last Sunday, my wife and I descended on Casa Blanca (Spanish for “White House”) for dinner around 7, and were surprised to find the restaurant parking-lot full. We had to park half a block away. Mystery was solved when we entered and found a significant crowd watching the Eagles game on the large screen TVs lining the walls of this good-sized establishment. Yet, the cheers and conversation were virtually all in Spanish.  Makes sense that the NFL is part of the Latino experience in Trenton, but I’d never seen it before…

InteriorCasa Blanca is one of the more Anglo-friendly Spanish bars in town, and has taken over the generous quarters of what used to be John Henry’s Restaurant. The wait staff all speak excellent English. The space is newly, and fairly expensively, renovated. The restaurant is one large, open space, the bar at the far end. But the seating is cleverly designed to offer multiple options for drinking or eating whether you’re by yourself, part of a small group, or with a large party.

Exterior

Yes, the space may remind you of a Las Vegas casino more than a fine dining establishment, but it’s well done for what it wants to be. The music is non-stop, but not so loud that you can’t hold a conversation with your dinner party. The TVs are there, but you can find spaces where you don’t have to look at them. And, even with the game going on, the TV sound was turned down in favor of music.  I often have trouble listening to Latin popular music, but found myself enjoying many of the selections being played.

I’ve now sampled a fair number of different items on the menu. As far as I can tell, the cuisine is predominantly Guatemalan, with some Puerto Rican specialties (such as Mofongo and Tostones), and a few Anglo dishes (e.g., pasta) thrown in. The food is reasonably priced, nicely presented, and served up in huge portions. It’s not the best in town, but far from the worst. If you’re looking principally to enjoy a bar with food, it’s definitely worth checking out, along with establishments like Tikal and Frankye’s.  According to the Facebook page, the kitchen stays open until midnight, making Casa Blanca a good place for late-night eats.

The header image shows one of my favorites on the menu: grilled pork chops with salsa verdes. The salsa is extremely flavorful: spicy and moderately hot. Really quite outstanding. It came with two generous chops, an enormous portion of tostones, and huge scoop of potato salad. Other food on the menu hasn’t, in my experience, quite reached the levels of this one: I found the carne adobada (marinated, grilled pork) slightly bland and slightly overcooked.

That said, as you’d expect in a good bar, there’s an extensive snack/appetizer menu, including wings, nachos, and empanadas.  I’ve sampled the last item, and deem them quite good.

EmpanadaWhile the restaurant isn’t open for conventional breakfast hours, there is a “breakfast” menu served all day with specialties like this Guatemalan Breakfast platter:  two fried eggs, grilled steak, fried sweet plantains (which were caramelized in the fryer and quite delicious), black beans, a hunk of cheese, crema, and a stack of hand made tortillas.

Guatemalan BreakfastOverall, if you’re looking for a bar with food (as opposed to food) you may fall in love with Casa Blanca.  It’s become one of the favorite hangs of one our friends who loves the social ambiance of eating in a bar.  The fact that the kitchen stays open late is another major bonus.

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