Say Hello to the Piña Colada Club:
Finally ... A Caribbean Diner in San Juan:
The newest member of the Oof! Restaurants family, which includes some of my favorite eateries in the city, Piña Colada Club calls itself a tropical diner. If that means mixing good old fashioned American comfort food with the flavors of the Caribbean, it's a perfect description.
The restaurant is a mix of sports bar (plenty of flat screen TVs showing a variety of sports and sports channels) and casual, colorful eatery. It's an inviting setting, made all the more diner-like by the chalkboard featuring a depiction of Homer Simpson selling the Club's signature milkshakes. It's an immediately inviting place to sit down and order something that you will need to exercise away later.
As for the menu, you'll find all your diner favorites, but many come with a Latin-Caribbean zing to them. Popcorn shrimp? Try coconut popcorn shrimp. Cobb salad? Here it's a Latin Cobb salad (that means it comes with plantain strips and avocado). Feel like a Reuben? Go for the Cuban Reuben (substitute corned beef for roast pork and baked ham). Try your hot dog with pineapple relish ... You get the idea. The concept is a fresh and welcome change to the diner you know, and yet a complete departure from traditional Puerto Rican food.
We started our meal with the island empanadillas, which proved to be rich and dense turnovers filled with ground beef and fried sweet plantains. One of us tackled the intimidating Piña Colada Burger, which came seasoned with sofrito and layered with Swiss cheese, avocado sauce and sweet plantain. I went with the day's special of succulent and crispy mahi mahi tacos.
If you've got any space left for dessert, go for the signature caramelized banana split, which differs from the split you know in that the bananas are sauteed in a caramel sauce. And of course, they do make a mean Piña Colada.
If you want a (slightly different) taste of home, or simply feel like having hearty and tasty comfort food, you'll probably like what Piña Colada Club has to offer. It's not the place to go for a taste of authentic 'Rican cooking. But I kinda wish I had a diner like it in my neighborhood.