The food scene in Jackson County isn’t all po-boys and blue-plate specials. We do have great po-boy places and there is nothing wrong with red beans and rice on Monday, but, if you are a serious foodie, diversity is the name of the game, right? We’ve got good Vietnamese places, sushi, pizza, Italian, even a good gyro place, but now we have something really special.
There have been a few restaurants on the Coast that had Caribbean flavor, but Le Lechonera El Flamboyan is one of the first restaurants to have a Puerto Rican menu. If this cuisine is new to you, and you like hearty and spicy food, you are going to love this place.
Puerto Rican cuisine is a hearty mixture of Spanish, African and Tainos (the original inhabitants of the island) that combines comfort food, often with a garlic base, rice, plantains, beans, pork, chicken and seafood, with a huge emphasis on freshness and a balance of spices. Classic Puerto Rican dishes almost always include mofongo and tostones, both made with green plantains. Roasted pork, fatty and rich, seafood salads, and roasted fish, with lots of chicken are also mainstays in their foodways.
La Lechonera el Flamboyan is small, and only has outside seating, so if the weather is inclement, plan on getting carry out. It is brightly colored in red, white and blue colors shared by both the Puerto Rican and American flags. Look for the Kiko frogs, almost a national symbol, and at nighttime, when this tiny tree frog comes out, you will be serenaded by its song.
The ambiance is all Puerto Rican, very Caribbean, and friendly, and the food is near perfection. Everything we tried was exactly as it should have been: rich, hearty, garlicky and delicious. We enjoyed the diced pork with mofongo and plantains (try them both, even if you have never eaten a plantain, you will love these side dishes), garlic chicken and garlic shrimp, delightfully served in bowls made of mofongo. All were served with sauces: the chicken and shrimp with a just perfect cream sauce and the pork with a wonderful green sauce made with cilantro, parsley, oil, red onion and black pepper that went well with everything on the plate.
La Lechonera el Flamboyan has only been open two weeks and the grand opening is going to be June 1 at noon. If you want to have a good time, enjoy great food, and listen to classic merengue and salsa dance music, don’t miss this party. If you think you can dance my friend, you better wear your dancing shoes, because the good people of Puerto Rice know how to have a good time, and you are invited.