Finding Puerto Rico’s Mofongo in Miami

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Above: Chef Jimmy Carey at work (CJ Photo)

By Alexander Britell

MIAMI — A rich mash featuring plantains and seafood, meat or vegetables, mofongo is Puerto Rico’s unofficial national dish.

And in Miami, Chef Jimmy Carey brings a taste of authentic mofongo to the city’s up-and-coming Wynwood neighbourhood at his namesake Jimmy’z Kitchen.

Carey, who grew up in San Juan, honed his craft at restaurants including Brasserie Le Coze (The onetime sister restaurant of New York’s Le Bernardin in Coconut Grove) to Ruth’s Chris and Mortons.

The first location of Jimmy’z was in Miami Beach, where Carey has lived for around 20 years.

The Wynwood location opened in the Cynergi building in 2011, filling what he said was a need for a healthy, well-priced, delivery, dine-in and takeout place — “the kind of place you feel comfortable going two and three times a week.”

“The concept is very simple,” he says. “It’s great food, well-prepared, chef-driven and well-priced.”

The menu includes everything from panini and sandwiches to steak frites and roasted Cuban-style mojo pork.

It’s the mofongo that keeps a number of locals, and particularly the Puerto Rican community in Miami, coming to this outpost at 2700 N Miami Avenue, in an area that became known as “Little San Juan” following a wave of immigration from Puerto Rico in the 1950s.

“We’re not a Puerto Rican restaurant per se, but we do feature Puerto Rican dishes,” he said. “We feature the mofongo, which is one of our big dishes, and we’re very well known in the Puerto Rican community.”

“They come here to have their mofongo,” he says.