Owing to a large Puerto Rican population in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland actually has some pretty great Puerto Rican food spots. We have tried quite a few, and one of our our favorites is Cleveland Mofongo (11621 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH). We have written about mofongo before, and this emblematic dish consists of garlicky, fried mashed plantains (traditionally pounded in a wooden mortar and pestle, called a pilón) with savory fillings. As the name would suggest, the key thing to order when you go is mofongo. I mean, sure, you can order a salad or empanadilla (preferably guava and cheese), but only as accompaniments to the mofongo.
At Cleveland Mofongo, you can get a variety of mofongo fillings including: vegetarian, pork, chicken, shrimp, salmon, steak, bacalao (dried cod), or even surf and turf (prices range from $10-15.50). The mofongo comes with a simple side salad, or you can also substitute rice and beans, or make the whole dish into a rice bowl. So what’s the verdict on the mofongo? We love mofongo, and can be pretty picky about it, and Cleveland Mofongo lives up to the hype. This mofongo is not too dry, or greasy, two common failings, and the fillings are ample. The roast pork is our go-to-and it is flavorful and tender. Cleveland Mofongo has even gotten the stamp of approval from a Boricua who knows a thing or two about mofongo.
But, truth be told, they really do have a pretty large menu in addition to the mofongo: salads, tacos, quesadillas, sweet empanadillas for dessert, and adobo chicken wings are on offer. Plus, if you are into that sort of thing, they also have brunch featuring American staples like french toast and omelettes. Everything we have ordered so far beyond the mofongo, including the appetizer platter with empanadillas (little fried empanadas), tostones (fried, smashed plantain rounds), and yuca are delicious accompaniments, too (pick 4 for $13.50)! There is a new dining room at Cleveland Mofongo, which is usually full, but we have opted for takeout during the pandemic. You have to call in your orders, and sometimes they are so busy that it takes a while to get through. One time, actually, we were not able to get through at all over the course of an hour, so you may have to be a little persistent, or lucky! We are glad they are doing so well, and if you can, give Cleveland Mofongo a try for a little taste of Puerto Rico.