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Meet the Rodriguezes

Pernil (roasted pork) Combo served with rice with pigeon peas and fried plantains. Pastelillos de Res y Queso (beef and cheese pockets), Alcapurrias (mashed green banana stuffed with pork) and Rellenos de Papas - potatoes mashed, rounded with beef fi lling Chicken Quesadilla served with fresh red salsa. (photo by Rose Mattrey)

Carmen’s Kitchen

1043 West Avenue

When it is too hot to cook, and you want some reasonably priced flavorful food fast, why not head to Carmen’s? This spotlessly clean, tiny kitchen has been open for about a month, and as it has only one table, curbside, so why not get takeout and enjoy your meal by the water? Alain and Carmen Rodriguez are the owners, and Carmen does most of the cooking. Specializing in Puerto Rican and Mexican foods, Carmen’s offers excellent dinner versions of the usual Mexican items such as tacos, enchiladas, and flautas. Served with rice, beans, and salad (I’d skip the salad, it’s just iceberg and tomato), the portions are immense and satisfying, and in the $8 to $9 range. For break in routine, I highly recommend the fish taco dinner—a marinated piece of tilapia on a tortilla, gently spiced.

Burritos, tacos, and quesadillas can also be purchased a la carte. For vegetarians, there is a burrito made with sautéed onions, peppers, and spinach with black beans, corn and garlic, rice, and cheese.

On the Puerto Rican side of the menu, you can’t go wrong with a pernil, traditional pork roasted until it is falling-apart tender. The Puerto Rican dinners are served with rice, beans, and plantains. Sandwiches are served on the bread made in the kitchen, pan sobao, a tradition in Puerto Rico. You might want to try some of that bread on a Cubano sandwich, stuffed with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and sauce. The appetizers include various pastelillos, stuffed pastry pockets. One that sounds particularly good is the cassava root with garlic and onions.

I’m going back to try that, as they were out of it the night we were there. That night, we picked up our food, and brought it home to eat. The phone rang, and it was Mr. Rodriguez. He’d forgotten to include one item, and what was our address, he was bringing it over. We had so much food, I told him not to bother but he did, and threw in some free portions of flan for dessert.

Try Carmen’s, it’s a good deal.

patricia watson

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