From Our Editors
Though Benny Ojeda's kitchen is packed with a mélange of frying pans, butcher knives, pots, and spatulas, his most treasured tool might be his giant wooden mortar and pestle. It's this massive contraption that the skilled chef uses to make his renowned mofongo dish, a deliciously chewy concoction that was lauded by reporters from Miami New Times and featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives as well as The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Benny fills the tall mortar with fried plantains, garlic, olive oil, and housemade pork rinds, and then pounds the mixture into a fluffy pulp. He scoops his mofongos into wooden bowls, sending them out of the kitchen plain or topped with buttery lobster, crispy chicken, and juicy steak.
Diners eagerly await mofongos out in the colorful dining room, where water trickles down from an elegant stone fountain and walls are painted to resemble a rustic Puerto Rican village or a convincingly disguised space ship. Some sip on imported beers and fresh fruit juices, and others sample traditional dishes from Benny's native Cabo Rojo—dishes such as stewed pork belly, rice with pigeon peas, and seafood ceviche. Before meals are through, waiters offer guests a tiny cup of complimentary coquito, a creamy blend of coconut, rum, and cinnamon.