Thursday, July 29, 2010

Caribbean Cravings


************THIS RESTAURANT IS NO LONGER IN BUSINESS*************************


Who knew there was a Puerto Rican restaurant in our midst? A friend whose taste I trust a lot told me about this place quite awhile ago and I put it on the list then, but for some reason had a hard time motivating myself to go. This is another place on the East side of town, where I am starting to notice there is quite a nice little cluster of good ethnic restaurants, much like the West side of town.

This is a little hole in the wall kind of place for sure. The dining area is nothing to look at, metal folding chairs and tables, but it is clean, and as you walk up to the front with its steam table of the items for sale, you can see this food is being made from scratch. In fact if you peek around the corner, you can see the cook cooking up lots of things in what appears to be a teeny tiny kitchen. They have different specials each day. We were there on a Wednesday when one of the specials is “Pollo en fricase” or chicken stew which is what I got. But what they call “stew” is actually whole legs or thighs in a nice reddish brown sauce with soft potatoes cooked alongside. You also get rice (either white or Spanish rice with peas), beans, and fried green plantains. I didn’t know until after we left you can get fried ripe plantains or fried green plantains or else I would have tried the green ones. I like the sound of that—described on the menu as “crunchy” instead of “sweet.”
Anyway, I got two chicken legs in my portion of “stew.” They were wonderfully tender and juicy and flavored throughout with the sauce they were cooked in. I would guess the sauce had onions, cumin, oregano and maybe some seasoned salt and garlic as well. This was one that had flavors that were hard for me to pick out I guess because this is not a type of food I am overly familiar with. The sliced potatoes were slow cooked along with the chicken and were nice a soft and had soaked up lots of the sauce as well. But I just couldn’t get over how tender the chicken was. The skin was still on, but because it was slow cooked, it was not crispy at all and actually sort of slid right off the chicken as you ate it. But you didn’t need it at all for flavoring as you ate (although I am sure it gave the stew a very nice flavor as it cooked). Since the texture of the skin was sort of gooey, I just pulled it off and skipped it. Didn’t miss it at all.

Hubby had beef ribs that were also slow roasted cooked in a similar, but more meaty flavored sauce. The meat just sort of fell off the bone which was nice, although I have to say, I liked my chicken better (even hubby agreed with that I would say). He got the Spanish rice which he really liked. I had a bite and it had a nice taste, but with a sauced based dish like this, I sort of like getting white rice with mine to really get the flavor of the sauce, and not the rice. Although honestly, you barely need the rice with those yummy potatoes I had.

The plantains were just ok. They were cooked fresh and were smoking hot (in temperature) when we got them, but they just seemed kind of dull next to all the flavors of the other dishes. Like I said, I would certainly be interested to try the green plantains next time. That really intrigues me. And looking over the menu, there will certainly be a next time because on Thursdays they have “bistec encebollado” (or beefsteak with sautéed onions) which is something I have had at Peruvian places and really enjoyed. They also have items on the menu like “Camarones al ajillo” (shrimp in garlic sauce) which I can only assume is cooked to order since I didn’t see it and it is not listed as a particular day’s special. The other regular offering on the day we were there was “Pechuga de pollo ajillo” which is chicken breast strips with garlic butter which also looked quite intriguing. According to the menu they also do Jamaican patties and Puerto Rican fritters known as Alcapurrias… oh so many things to try….

Caribbean Cravings
4632 N. Post
Indy 46226
317/897-4241

9 comments:

  1. I love this place, good stuff. The owner, Carlos, is a piece of work. He's about 30yrs old, and it's completely a one man show here.

    I'm amazed at how consistently good the food is here. I've eaten there a dozen times at least and he's nailed it every time. Maybe he should give some lessons to the more refined establishments in town.

    Couple other items to try are my favorite, the chuletas - very thin pork chops seasoned and fried, addictive. Every Saturday he cooks up lechon - roast pork. And he'll also mash up some mofungo for you - plantains mashed up with pork cracklings.

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  2. very glad to find out about this place - I had close Puerto Rican friends when I was growing up in S Fla... in fact, my best buddy's name was actually Carlos :) (the age is right, but can't imagine it is Carlos Lugo)

    Anyway, lots of these items are sounding good. isnt too far from home, either!

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  3. Just curious when the last time you went to this restaurant? My inlaws are Puerto Rican and we had heard about this place. When we went last Saturday it was closed, although on another online site it stated they were closed on Sunday and Monday's. No problem, we figured we could come back again sometime during the week. Well my husband's two uncles went up during this pasts week and there was no sign on the door with the posted hours and no one answered the phone when they called. We were really excited to try this place!

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  4. uh oh. Jen, I was there about 2 weeks ago. They did have hours posted when I was there because I specifically checked them out. But I will try and look into it and see what I can find out.. I hope they are still around! Hopefully maybe just a vacation??

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  5. I was just there a week ago for lunch on Friday.

    It's a one-man operation and he's not a stickler for his posted hours, so if he's got other more pressing issues he doesn't bother opening. I've gone for lunch on a weekday and find the doors locked and no sign up. Hey, it's the authentic Latin American experience!

    Probably best to call first if you're making a special trip down there 897-4241. Just a heads up, he's a bit of an eccentric - he usually doesn't answer the phone before noon. And he doesn't always answer the phone when he's open either.

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  6. uh oh again, I just called (1:00 pm) and the number has been "temporarily disconnected." If anyone gets current info they are still open, please let me know.

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  7. Wow, that's too bad - the man could cook, that was some of the tastiest food I've had in Indy.

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  8. Drove past and saw the "Open" sign flashing again, they're back in business woohoo

    It's still called "Caribbean Cravings", but the new owners are Dominican. I'd already eaten lunch but he gave they gave me a sample. What I had was very tasty - rice and beans, stewed chicken and stewed beef. Everything made from scratch as before.

    Same set up with the steam tables at the front counter.

    They're closed on Mondays
    New phone # is 362-0134
    email: caribbean_cravings@hotmail.com

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  9. thanks ChicagoPete! and that is good news! I am anxious to go back.

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Thanks, Erin