I ate lunch at a new restaurant today. It is called Jibarito's and serves Puerto Rican and Caribbean style food. It's located in Bedford, Texas in a nondescript shopping center at the corner of Central and Harwood. It is sandwiched (pun intended) between Big Lots and Little Caesars Pizza. For those familiar with Bedford, it is in the old La Bella restaurant location.
The interior has been completely redone. La Bella was an old style white tablecloth Italian restaurant. It was dimly lit by candlelight with paintings of Italy on the walls and a piano player next to the bar. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin or Tony Bennett recordings were playing when the piano player wasn't. Luckily La Bella didn't close until after my father died. It was one of his favorite spots.
Jibarito's is much brighter and more casual. The tabletops are wood grain formica, no tablecloths. The walls have been covered with corrugated tin siding. There are a few Puerto Rican themed posters on the walls. A Puerto Rican flag hung parallel to the ceiling is in the center of the main dining room. There is a very small private dining area at the front. The piano is gone, but the bar is in the same place at the back of the main dining area. It is a full bar. The room is pleasant enough but I have a feeling it could get pretty noisy with all the hard surfaces. There were only a few other customers when I was there but I could easily hear conversations from other sections of the room. On this particular afternoon there were at least as many employees as customers. Despite the abundance of help and the lack of customers it took an inordinate amount of time for my meal to be served. The delay was with the kitchen, not the server. That might be a problem when the place is busy. The service was friendly although not particularly polished.
On to the food. I had the signature Jibarito Sandwich which is described as A fried plantain sandwich with Puerto Rican pulled pork, tomatoes, avocados and pickled red onions with a spicy cilantro mayo sauce with rice and beans. It was delicious. The fried plantains take the place of bread in this sandwich. They are fried to a crisp and held up well. They did not get soggy and fall apart. Get an extra napkin or two. Your fingers will get greasy but the sandwich didn't taste greasy. The pork was plentiful, lean, flavorful and had some crispy edges which I like. The tomatoes, avocados and onions added good flavor and additional textures. The spicy cilantro mayo wasn't spicy but it did taste OK. Full disclosure, I like really hot spicy food so the mayo might be spicy to the average palate. The rice and beans were also very good. It was white rice with red beans, some green onions and a good dose of garlic. It was a big sandwich and large portion of rice. I couldn't quite finish it all but still waddled out of the place. I thought the $10 price tag was very fair. Another nice surprise was the Dos Equis draft for $1.75. I don't always drink beer at lunch but when I do I like a reasonably priced one.
The rest of the menu runs the gamut although it all has a Latin slant. Everybody, including the kids, should be able to find something to their liking. This is the kind of restaurant that I like to patronize. Family run and a local business. I'll go back again and if you are in the area I hope you give it a try. It's nice to see a local restaurant with a different cuisine. I love BBQ and Mexican but we have plenty of those. A little taste of the Caribbean for this Florida guy is very welcome. Find Jibarito's on the web or on Facebook.
Fried plantains in place of bread, a good idea. $1.75 Dos Equis, another good idea.