There’s a piece of the Caribbean right in the middle of the Gate City…wanna go? Jíbaro Latin Café, located at 401 Tate Street on the corner of Walker Avenue and Tate is a small, cozy place where one can find peace, lively music and, of course, wonderful food. The restaurant is owned and managed by Puerto Rican, Armando Soto, who has been in Greensboro for 27 years. The restaurant will celebrate its one-year of being open on March 26. Jíbaro provides an array of Caribbean foods varying from Cuban, Colombian, Venezuelan but mostly Puerto Rican. Upon entering the restaurant, you are welcomed with salsa and merengue music with slow and mellow songs mixed in between. Pictures of Latin beaches, apartments and culture border the sand and water colored walls. Plants hang above the tables and the place where the food is prepared resembles a hut with straw along the cover. It is not very large in size, but is set just right to provide a relaxing moment or two from the busy life of the Greensboro streets. The name, Jíbaro, is the name given in Puerto Rico to a countryman who worked the land and tended to or worked on a farm. The Jíbaro, in Soto’s eyes, made Puerto Rico what it is today. The name of the restaurant comes from a Puerto-Rican sandwich introduced in Chicago, but instead uses plantains to hold the sandwich together. Never been before or only once? You’re in luck! Soto is dedicated to educating his customers about the types of foods he serves and is passionate about his restaurant. Because of this, he is willing to let you sample a bit of the food he and his wife have prepared to give you a better feel of what the food is like. A small, plastic cup serves as your ticket to a mouthful of the robust, flavorful taste of Puerto Rico. As he lets you taste different foods, he explains what each entails and takes you along the menu to make your choice a little easier. The menu begins with their specialty sandwich, “El Jíbaro.” The Jíbaro is a sandwich made with a whole fried plantain used as the “bread” and encompasses either steak-the most popular-chicken or roast pork along with lettuce, tomatoes and mayo. For those who don’t want meat, it can be made with portabella mushrooms instead. All choices remain the same price of $5.49. Another option is the pastelillos. Pastelillos are like stuffed empanadas and are basically turnovers filled with beef, chicken, roast pork or, the newest addition, pizza. Since they come three to an order, you can get three different kinds all for the same price of $4.49 and they are also available as a single side order to an entrée. A Venezuelan dish, the Arepas are baked white corn pockets of bread and are stuffed with roast pork and topped with shredded lettuce and tomato. Or if it is stuffed with the beef, it’s topped with the grilled veggies. The last option is the Reina Pepiada from Venezuela. “It’s basically like a chicken and avocado base. Kind of like a cold chicken sandwich and it’s topped with shredded lettuce and tomatoes,” said Soto. If you’d like a whole meal, daily entrées are available as well. The Daily Entrées include dishes such as “Pollo Guisado,” which is a chicken stew with rice, “Arroz con Pollo,” rice with chicken served with your choice of white, red or black beans and “Arroz con Gandules,” rice with pigeon peas that comes with a pork chop cooked in Spanish sauce and onions. Each day provides a different Puerto Rican dish, all less than $8, and comes with your choice of the popular fried Tostones (salted) or the Amarillos (sweet) plantains, Yuca or pastelillos and a salad. A kid’s menu is available as well. The food isn’t the only thing varying in flavor and choice; the array of drinks and desserts provides you with just the right taste to go with your meal. Among the options for dessert are “Tres Leches” and “Budin” (bread pudding). Drinks provided are Hispanic beverages such as Cola Champagne and various Nectors as well as fountain drinks and tea. Also, is the Frappe, which is a tropical smoothie available in the flavors of passion fruit, mango or raspberry. Jíbaro is open six days a week: Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. The restaurant’s website is currently under construction, but they can be reached by phone at (336) 273-9788. Think all Hispanic food tastes the same? Give Jíbaro a try and taste the difference!
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