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Apr. 4, 2012
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Cafe El Sol
1028 S. Ninth St.

Located deep inside the United Community Center, El Sol's visibility is relatively low, even though it has its own plainly marked entrance. But anyone who loves Mexican and Puerto Rican food shouldn't overlook it. El Sol is especially notable for its daily Puerto Rican specials, but also serves up a fine selection of Mexican favorites. Try a breakfast of huevos rancheros or good old Yankee eggs, toast and bacon. The Friday fish fry buffet features live Hispanic music. Open Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and Friday 5-8:30 p.m. (D.L.) $. CC. FF. 384-3100 ext. 275

El Farol Restaurant & Grocery
1401 W. Washington St.

A modest establishment in a residential neighborhood, El Farol combines a small supermarket with a restaurant. The market has items like roast pork, empanadas and papas rellenos. The illustrated menu is small with steak with onions, roast chicken, fried fish and daily specials tending toward stews. Do order the Puerto Rican rice. Prices are reasonable and the flavors ring true. (J.B.) $. CC. 647-1899.

La Isla II

3500 W. National Ave.

La Isla II offers homey Puerto Rican fare in a casual setting. The specialty is mofongo, mashed plantains with garlic in the shape of a ball and served with a choice of meat. The mofongo is also stuffed with shrimp in a garlicky Creole sauce. Pork and fried chicken are also prominent in this menu. Daily specials tend to be slow-cooked stews varying from chicken and beef to pork tripe with green bananas. This is honest Puerto Rican fare. Most items include rice and beans or a simple salad. (J.B.) $-$$. CC. NA. 882-7003

Nina's Restaurant
2031 N. Holton St.

Mofongo, flautas and cheeseburgers are all found here, but the main reason to visit Nina's is for the Puerto Rican options. The inexpensive tostones, slices of plantain fried and seasoned with a bit of garlic, are a must. Pasteles are a bit like tamales, but made with a combination of mashed plantains and green bananas. If you enjoy garlic, try the mofongo, a dish of plantains blended with bits of roast pork and an abundance of garlic, served in the shape of a ball. (J.B.) CC. 372-7172


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