Ah, spring break, our annual chance to find a warm beach, drink too many mojitos and come home with Zika virus. But if you can’t book plane tickets or get away to Padre this March, you can do the next best thing: Drive to Irving for a Puerto Rican meal at Adobo Cafe.
Adobo, which shares a multicultural strip mall with an African market and the sushi spot Hanaki, is a warmly decorated slice of Puerto Rico. Flags, a TV showing tourist-video highlights, inviting colors and potted plants make the restaurant feel like a home. The walls are decorated with photos of regular customers, including soon-to-be Baseball Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, who comes from the island’s north coast between San Juan and Arecibo.
Adobo’s menu, displayed at the ordering counter on a TV screen, features seafood dishes and mofongo, a mound of mashed green or yellow plantains. Mofongo might be an acquired taste, but it’s worth trying to acquire. Drier and firmer than mashed potatoes, the mashed plantains are gently spiced, so it’s not a sweet food. Your platter (if you can call a Styrofoam container a “platter”) comes with a cup of hot, homemade chicken broth swimming with more spices; the staff advises dumping this over the mofongo to moisten it and add flavor.
Truth is, the result is pretty delicious. It’s also incredibly filling — with lunch at Adobo, you can show up so hungry you’re trembling, then 20 minutes later you’re uncomfortably full. Mofongo is a big reason why, but it also comes with your choice of meat or seafood. The carne frita, or fried pork, has a perfect, crisp crunch on the outside and a juicily tender interior — it doesn’t hurt that the preferred cut has ribbons of fat flowing through almost every morsel.
Adobo offers other treats, too: imported Caribbean soft drinks, octopus salad or take your pick from the case of sweet and savory pastries. True, the potholed parking lots and craggy left-turn lanes of Irving are not nearly as charming as Old San Juan, and true, a bumpy ride down Highway 183 isn’t as transporting as a bumpy ride up the hills to El Yunque. But if your spring break is a staycation — or if spring break is a thing of the past for you — you can do a lot worse than to spend a leisurely lunch enjoying DFW’s own slice of Puerto Rico.
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Adobo Puerto Rican Cafe, 3013 N. Belt Line Road, Irving, 214-783-4858