If you happen to find yourself around the food of Puerto Rico and the unmistakable smell of garlic has made your nose twitch with curiosity, you are most likely about to encounter mofongo.
Satisfyingly flavorful and fill-you-up-fast, the classic dish from made from fried green plantains mashed together in a pilón (a wooden mortar and pestle), with broth, garlic, and olive oil, can be had solo or served alongside vegetables and proteins such as beef, pork, chicken, and seafood.
Did I mention the garlic?
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I like to order up my mofongo at El New Yorican (pronounced yor-EE-can), the casual, family-owned restaurant serving Puerto Rican food on Phoenix's west side. It arrives at the table as a moist, softball-size clump of sticky, starchy goodness topped with strips of onion and enough garlic for your guests to insist conversation be had at a safe distance throughout the remainder of the evening.
To cut the amount of starch and garlic, I prefer bites of mofongo at El New Yorican with shrimp ($10.99), but it can be also had with pork chops or fried chicken for 10 bucks.
Pair it with the molasses-like soft drink called Malta, which is black as night, heavy, and sweet enough to make your knees quiver like a newborn fawn's, and you'll be dancing to the salsa beats of Puerto Rico (like this one about mofongo) in no time.