Owned by a husband and wife team, this small but bright restaurant oozes good energy from the moment you walk inside. Thanks to blue and yellow walls and a small amount of Island-themed art, the space feels fresh despite its location inside a tired-looking strip mall.
If you're lucky, owner Ivy (pronounced "Evie"), will be your server and guide to the menu. A native of Puerto Rico, she can provide suggestions and explain dishes that may be unfamiliar to new diners. That being said, the menu also provides helpful descriptions of the food should you not recognize the Spanish names.
In the antojitos, or appetizers, section of the menu you'll find both chicken and beef empanadas under their Puerto Rican name pastelillo. The biggest difference between these versions and other empanadas will be the dough; the pastelillo dough is slightly less thick and more flaky. Between the carne and pollo pastelillos we preferred the beef, which offered tender and flavorful meat inside the crisp outer shell.
On Ivy's suggestion we also tried the alcapurria, a fried fritter made with green plantains, banana, and taro root that's also stuffed with ground meat. That's a lot going on flavor-wise, though we could still pick up the distinctive flavor of unripe plantains.
The tamest way to start your meal would be with an order of tostones, or deep fried green plantains. These simple, salty snacks taste great when dipped in mayoketchup, a bottle of which sits on every table in the restaurant. This popular Puerto Rican condiment combines mayonnaise and ketchup (obviously) with garlic and other spices. The result is an addicting combo of fat, salt, and spice that tastes good on pretty much anything.