M-Th 11 AM-3 PM; F-Su 12-9 PM
(609) 981-7700 Website Google Maps
Gravitas: Decor: Cost: Proximity:
Until now, we’ve never found a local Puerto Rican restaurant we could get excited about. Frankly, the cuisine is tough to prepare well. Unlike Mexican which depends on spiciness, PR cuisine depends on subtle textures and flavors (usually including a lot of garlic). Subtle is hard.
Take Mofongo, a classic PR dish. It’s a ball of mashed , fried plantains mixed with bit of meat (traditionally chicharrón – pork cracklings), and usually accompanied by a serving of a different meat. Buen Provecho (“BP”, translation: “Enjoy Your Meal”) offers your choice of chicken, shrimp, octopus, or skirt steak piled on top.
In the hands of lesser (admittedly less expensive) PR restaurants, I’ve experienced mofongo as a bland, dry, mess: kind of like eating mashed potatoes prepared without the butter. In Buen Provecho’s case it’s sublime. Their standard mofongo is a plantain mash bursting with hints of garlic and seasoning filled with your choice of chicken, steak, or shrimp.. They also have a special mofongo call a “Three Picacho” Trifongo which is a blend of plantain, yuca, and yellows filled with chicken, steak, octopus, or shrimp. Both are decadent and feature a savory broth to accompany the hearty texture.
The header photo illustrates another classic PR meal: pork chops with rice and beans. The pork chops had been marinated prior to grilling, so that even though they were cooked well done, the meat remained savory. The beans were utterly superb: bursting with melt-in-your-mouth flavor. Vegetarians beware, some of that flavor burst comes from pork cooked in the beans. While no doubt vegetarians could eke out a meal here, it’s not blindingly obvious what they should order.
Also illustrated, Pernil, roast pork shredded with onions and garlic, and an empanada with three-meat filling (chicken, pork, and skirt steak). Perfectly fried, crisp crust.
BP’s menu is quite extensive. Entrees range from $12.99 for Mofongo served with Chicken, to $24.99, for a whole fried red snapper stuffed with churrasco (grilled skirt steak) or shrimp. Most entrees are around $15.99. You can get excellent PR style coffee drinks, and a selection of desserts which are homemade. Given that it’s BYOB, these prices are really not bad for the quality. At a recent meal, we each had a full, mid-priced entree, split an appetizer and desert with one other person, and the bill came to $23/head before tip.
The restaurant itself is located in a converted home on Hamilton Avenue a few miles outside of Trenton in Hamilton. It’s a slightly quirky space but certainly pleasant enough. Service is friendly if not always expert or highly accomplished. Note it’s open only for lunch M-Th, and closes at 9 PM F-Su.
Highly recommended. Thanks to Edwin for recommending this place and reviewing the Mofongos (he’s of Puerto Rican ancestry).