The short-lived history of El New Yorican, the satisfying, wallet-friendly restaurant of Puerto Rican fare on the city's west side, looks to have been as fleeting as its restless owner, Alberto Rivera.
His first restaurant, El New Yorican (pronounced yor-ee-can) was opened in 2011 by Rivera, who named it after his own background, which describes a Puerto Rican born in New York. It was an instant hit with the neighborhood as well as the Valley's Puerto Rican community. Although Rivera had lived in Phoenix for three years before opening El New Yorican, in my review of his restaurant in October 2011, he likened his lifestyle to that of a Gypsy's -- citing life experiences in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Puerto Rico, among others.
Staying true to his nomadic ways, a month and a half ago, Rivera sold his restaurant and moved back to New York. But new owner Wesley Andujar says El New Yorican, now called Puerto Rico Latin Grill, is just as good as ever -- and he's making it better.
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Andujar tells me that, although much of the menu will remain the same -- think offerings like fried chicken rubbed with adobo, the classic Puerto Rican pork roast pernil, and the garlic-heavy mofongo -- he's hoping to add more traditional Puerto Rican dishes. In addition, he says he'd like to keep the new Puerto Rico Latin Grill open seven days a week.
The Puerto Rican-born Andujar, who has lived in the Valley for 33 years, says he knew Rivera personally and that Rivera's sister still works at the restaurant.
Have you been to Andujar's Puerto Rico Latin Grill yet? What did you think?