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A taste of Puerto Rico
Carne guisada con papas at the new Puerto Rico restaurant on Montgomery Cross Road

Stews loom large in the typical Puerto Rican’s diet, and that works out great for me. I was in the mood for something rib–sticking and warming — carne guisada con papas (beef stew with potatoes) was sure to hit the spot.

The setting was familiar. Puerto Rico Restaurant is housed in the former location of Golden Breakfast on Montgomery Cross Road. There has been some remodeling, which seemed to add more seats.

I was late for lunch hour, but several diners, including several military personnel, were just leaving. It was quiet now and wonderful smells coming from the tiny kitchen telegraphed the treat I was about to sample.

The dish is authentic Puerto Rican. The chunks of beef are stewed fork–tender with potatoes that have absorbed the rich and savory flavor of the stewing broth.

I chose yellow rice with chick peas, which was nicely seasoned and filling. White rice and a side of beans is the other option. A small salad of crisp lettuce and tomato slices got a kick start from pickled jalapeno sauce my server dropped off.

The dish reminds me of other ethnic dishes I’ve had — simple, unadorned and unpretentious. Here, the emphasis is on authenticity, not “Americanizing” a dish to attract the masses. With barely 20 seats the masses need not apply!

I’ll be going back to sample the fried pork chop and fried chicken. A dish I’ve had as street food — albondigas en salsa criolla (meatballs in Creole sauce) — is on the menu and promises a bit more spice than the other menu items.

The simple menu offers a few treats, including breakfast options, corn meals stick and a Cubano sandwich filled with ham, roasted pork, cheese, pickles and mustard.

Bring your sweet tooth. Three flavors of flan — vanilla, coconut and cheese, await.

310 E. Montgomery Cross Road, Suite 1/224–4017/8 a.m.–8 p.m.

Where the cooks eat on Christmas

Very few restaurants are open Christmas Day. It is a time when the hard–working men and women of the foodservice industry gather with families or one another to cook their favorite dishes. It is a season of camaraderie, revelry and gratitude.

I’m sure they will be raising a toast to you, their favorite customers — and we should raise one to them for a year of hard work and making our dining experiences the very best. Merry Christmas!