5757 Lankershim Blvd · North Hollywood, CA 91601 · Neighborhood: North Hollywood
One of the best kept secrets in LA, one that really shouldn’t be a secret at all, is Mofongos in North Hollywood. Serving up traditional Puerto Rican food, a cuisine that is already super hard to find in Los Angeles, they are located deep in North Hollywood on a semi-shady street just a bit away from the main downtown theater district.
I particularly like going there, when I’m missing my grandma or my mom’s home cooking. This place does a good job of representing the flavors of the island, staples like arroz con gandules, yucca frita, pollo guisado and of course a sizable variety of mofongo, the plantain based signature dish of Puerto Rico — imagine a mound of mashed plantains served up with a hearty portion of stewed seafood, pork, chicken or vegetables on top and sweet plantains (maduro) on the side. Sí, por favor!
I also especially love that you can get pasteles here (pictured above). These savory meat-filled “pies” are encased in a masa of platano and then wrapped in a banana leaf. Think of them as the Puerto Rican version of a tamale, only actually they are nothing like a tamale expect for the way they are prepared which is somewhat similar. Visually it doesn’t look like much, but if you want a true taste of a common Puerto Rican dish, especially around the holidays, then you must try it. Instead of corn as the masa, we use plantains, and instead of it being sweet, it’s savory and has a glossy sheen to it since the last step when cooking is to boil them.
Anybody from Puerto Rico knows what I’m talking about! It’s not for everyone, but it’s the sort of thing you you grew up eating on the island, or the Bronx, or in my case in my mom’s kitchen in Chicago! Since it’s a time consuming specialty dish, one doesn’t often make it for themselves. Done right, it’s the best!
When my blogger friend, Shauna, aka The Minty mentioned that she wanted to check Mofongos out, I offered to introduce her to some the classic Puerto Rican dishes that I love. So, off we went to Mofongos.
We ordered: Pollo guisado (stewed chicken), papa relleno (lightly fried potatoes stuffed with meat), bacalaitos (fried salted cod fritters), platano maduro (fried yellow plantain), tostones (twice fried green plantain), and mofongo de lechón (mashed plantain with pork belly and shredded pork shoulder). Everything was spot on, especially, the mofongos.
I would have liked to try their flán but we simply ran out of room in our bellies. It’s easy to get carried away with the menu here. The waiter was kind enough to tell me when to stop ordering. I would have kept going and gotten everything off the menu!
I took a pastele de pollo home and a doggie bag of leftovers in hand. There is always leftovers from this place. Mmmm.
I like the cozy, comfortable atmosphere in here. Sure, its a tad divey, but it’s clean, spacious and they play salsa music over the speakers at a comfortable level. You can’t help but wiggle a little in your seat while you’re eating.
I always tend to chat it up with the servers here – it’s the Puerto Rican way after all. Shout out to Jasmine and Barnaby (a Puerto Rican and Dominican, respectively… that’s a good sign!). They tell me people drive up as far as San Diego to eat here. I guess I can’t complain about my 15 minute drive from WeHo.
A sampling of beverages (pictured below) which I asked for because I couldn’t remember which one I liked best. The server kindly obliged me. (below L to R) Horchata made of sesame seeds, Parcha (passion fruit) and Tamarindo, a Tamarind drink.
This place is authentic. It’s indeed legit. And as one of the very few restaurants repping Puerto Rican food in LA – and doing it right. We need to give them some love and support this local joint!
Never had it before? Think of Puerto Rican food as being like Cuban food – but a bit naughtier. Nice, but sexy. Not spicy, just down right, good home cooking from the islands.
A lot of my friends tell me, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been meaning to try that place but I didn’t know if it was good or not!” Well, I’m telling you now. It’s good. Go. And don’t forget to say “Gracias.”