For many people, Borinquen is synonymous with the jibarito sandwich — and rightfully so. Tender, chewy bits of steak are layered with tomato, lettuce, thick mayonnaise and mashed garlic between plantains that have been smashed, formed into bread-like pieces and then fried. The result is unlike any other sandwich out there—an intoxicating mix of crunchy veggies, savory meat and sweet plantain. Hungry foodies from across the city come to this casual Puerto Riccan restaurant to feast on its owner's creation, which has since spread to other eateries across the city and is now offered in chicken, pork, and vegetarian options. But don't let the proliferation of the jibarito distract you; head here for a taste of the real thing.
Beyond the famous sandwich, look for Puerto Rican staples like fried meat pies, roasted chicken and smoky pork chops (sandwiches run $5-8, while meals can cost up to $23). Borinquen's interior is as relaxed as its famous sandwich is wild. A small dining room, complete with oversize fish tank and old newspaper clippings hanging from the walls, is a great spot to enjoy a leisurely meal. Meanwhile, the open kitchen flanked by bar stools provides a more lively lunch perch (though the slow pace of the meal is pretty much fixed by the relaxed yet friendly waitstaff).
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Rockwood