Living in the DC area, good Latin food is hard, but not impossible, to come by. But on 8th and E St, one block over from the Marine Corps Headquarters, sits one of the most colorful, vibrant Latin restaurants in the whole NorthEast. Renowned for its Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Tex-Mex cuisine, Banana Cafe is sure to draw you in from the moment you arrive.
Created by Jorge Zamorano, Banana Cafe was designed from the start to depict the fun, festive air of Latin and Central America, a job it does very well. The Cuban Pollo Encebollado and Tostones are a favorite of mine. The chicken is grilled to perfection and smothered in onions next to a plate of piping hot white rice and beans, and the Tostones are huge with an incredible garlic dipping sauce to drown them in before every bite.
But on my latest trip I was in my mood for something more in tune with my Puerto Rican roots, MOFONGO!
Mofongo, pronounced mo’fongo, is a fried plantain-based dish – the plantains are fried and then mashed together in a pilon usually containing garlic, olive oil, and plenty of pork cracklings (chicharonnes). After this the plantain mixture is topped with chicken, shrimp, or beef. It’s a great dish, but Banana Cafe took it a step beyond what even I had in mind, and served me up the largest plate of mofongo I’ve ever seen. It could easily have been a challenge on Man vs. Food.
This mogongo with chicken turned out to be a combination of my two favorite dishes. It was a massive plantain bowl filled with grilled chicken, onions, bell peppers, and peas, with a thick slab of garlic bread besides. It was so huge I couldn’t finish it, and for those of you who know me, I’ve got a very healthy appetite. So if you find yourself starving downtown, don’t just go shopping, go Latin with delicious Latin cuisine at Banana Cafe.
Check out there full menu at www.bananacafedc.com