If Humboldt Park is your only stop for good home-cooked Puerto Rican food, then you're missing out. Borincuba offers a piece of the park away from the Park, bringing Puerto Rican and Cuban cuisine to an area in need of a little flavor.
Blink and you just might miss this Irving Park restaurant, but that's the intention, sort of. "I’d rather have a small place full, than a big place empty," says owner Efrain Aguilera. You don't come to Borincuba for the setup; perhaps the only hallmarks of the Caribbean are a trophy sea turtle head and a jukebox housing a string of island hits. You come here for the food. While the name suggests both Cuban and Puerto Rican foods are served, Puerto Rican food dominates both menu selection and customer choice.
The food comes cheap for the amount you get, so come hungry. This is the case at many Puerto Rican restaurants, but few can match the quality of Borincuba. You'll find no empanadas or alcapurrias sitting for hours under a heat lamp here. The staff makes everything fresh. An exclusive meal is the jibarita, similar to the jibarito (a type of Puerto Rican sandwich) only made with sweet plantains in place of bread as opposed to green ones.
Aguilera favors the ropa vieja (shredded beef in sauce, $11.95). Area police officers and construction workers go for the masitas de puerco (fried pork, $11.95), but give the fried chicken breast a chance ($9.95). All entrees come with white rice, beans and sweet or green plantains.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez