Puerto Rican restaurant guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on April 24, 2010 at 12:02 p.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
For decades, Pueblo Supermarket, 2029 N. Holton St., provided Milwaukee with Puerto Rican food staples. At the end of 2009, the grocers added a restaurant, called Nina's Bar and Restaurant, that's attached to the south of the bodega.
Nina's is spacious and simple, with a dozen or so tables and booths, a small bar and numerous murals of Puerto Rico on the walls. (Interestingly, every person depicted in the paintings is wearing machete.)
On a recent visit, we found the service prompt and friendly. Warm chips and moderately spicy salsa arrived at our table almost immediately, and our drink orders taken soon after. Unfortunately, the rest of our experience did not unfurl as flawlessly.
My dinner companion and I ordered margaritas, which were part of a Friday special and only $3, however they tasted extremely lemony -- which was good -- but low in alcohol content.
Prices are extremely affordable, ranging from $5.99 to $12.99, and the portions are very large. The menu is divided into sections: breakfast, appetizers, sandwiches, Mexican, Puerto Rican and kids'.
Notable breakfast items include huevos rancheros ($5.99) and chilaquiles ($4.99.)
The Mexican food section includes all the usual fare from tacos to burritos to chimichangas that range in price from $7.99 to $10.99.
We ordered from the Puerto Rican menu. All of the entrees are served with plantains and salad, although we reminded our server to bring the plantains. However, the plantains were worth the wait: thinly sliced, perfectly fried and smothered in a light caramelized glaze.
I tried to order the pollo gisado con arroz blanco, but they were out of it, so I settled on chuletas (pork chops) for $9.99. My pork chops were moist and tasty, but fatty. The sliced sauteed peppers on top of the chops were very well done, but the heaping mound of rice featuring chunks of pork and pigeon peas was sticky and dry.
My dinner companion ordered the verdura con bacalao for $8.99, which was cod fish with green bananas, sweet potatoes and casava. This dish had a super fishy smell and taste, and it even included a few fish scales in the food. It came with a salad that consisted of shredded lettuce and a few tomato chunks.
Burgers are available, too. In case it's not already obvious, Nina's is not vegetarian friendly.
Overall, we were not impressed with our meals at Nina's, but will consider going back to try the Mexican food or the breakfast items.
Other Puerto Rican restaurants in MIlwaukee:
Cafe El Sol
1028 S. 9th St., (414) 384-3100
Half of the menu is Mexican; half Puerto Rican. Thursday is a Puerto Rican pork special: roast pork with rice and pigeon peas.
1401 W. Washington Ave., (414) 647-1899
Try the combination plate ($9.95) to get acquainted with Puerto Rican food. It consists of roast pork, fried pork (chicharrones), fried plantains, fried chicken (some of the best in the city), arroz con gandules and beans.
Quimera Cocina Boricua
631 W. National Ave., (414) 645-8202
Quimera features food of the Latin Caribbean and a comfortable bar area.
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