Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mi Casita Restaurant in Isla Verde


If you ask locals in Isla Verde where to go for authentic Puerto Rican food, they will most likely mention Mi Casita in the Isla Verde plazoleta. Mi Casita’s location, menu, and bilingual waitstaff certainly make it accessible to tourists, and their selection of Puerto Rican food is pretty authentic. Overall, it is a good and relatively inexpensive introduction to Puerto Rican cuisine, but it definitely has some MAJOR flaws, namely regarding service and billing. Specifically, I have been to Mi Casita 3 times and each time have left incredibly full but also incredibly frustrated. And my bill has never been correct.


My friend Beezers recommends the asopao de camarones and sangria

ATMOSPHERE

The atmosphere of Mi Casita is almost without exception extremely hectic. As soon as you enter the small restaurant, you will notice waitstaff rushing around, patrons shouting over their tables to be heard, and the kitchen pouring plates of mofongo and asopao out of its doors. The thermostat is set to arctic chill, which helps Mi Casita turn over customers faster than you can say papas fritas. The décor is simple and homey (if your home usually also includes 100 other people), with paintings from local artists hung on the walls. But no one goes to Mi Casita for the atmosphere, they go for the food.

SERVICE
Mi Casita wins my award for “Most Consistently Horrendous Service Ever.” I mean, it’s really, really bad. It’s funny; lots of locals will recommend this place, but try asking them how often they go! I will give a rundown of a typical dinner experience. So first of all, you might get bread when you are seated, but you probably won’t. Try asking for it though! Then your waiter will disappear for a very long time and no one will welcome you, explain the menu, or ask if you have questions. Your best bet during this time would be to try and find a menu and decide everything you are going to order (drinks, appetizers, entrees, desserts) because trying to get a waiter to order your meal in sections will not be fun or feasible. When someone finally notices you (after you’ve asked 3 times for someone to take your order), you give your complete order. Within the next few minutes you will probably receive an appetizer that you didn’t order or a flat sprite disguised as water, but be sure to send it back or you will pay for it. Your food will actually come out pretty fast, but be sure to ask for your check ¾ of the way through your meal, or you will wait forever in the freezing cold for it. I asked for dessert once (because it was on the menu) but they looked at me like I was crazy and said they didn’t have any. Now the fun part. My check was wrong ALL THREE times that I visited Mi Casita. The first time I was presented with the entirely wrong check. The second time I was charged for mozzarella sticks that I didn’t order. The third time I was charged for FOUR items that I never ordered. If you pay with credit card, expect to wait even longer for them to run it through their tiny machine, and then check your statement, because the time I used my card, they charged me twice for the dinner. Apparently that happens “all the time.” Some people say this aggravation is all part of the charm, and perhaps it is, but if you are in town for a relaxing vacation or if you are easily frustrated, Mi Casita should not be on your Puerto Rico “to-do” list.


My dinky camarones enchilados

FOOD

I will give this to Mi Casita, their food is both authentic and reasonably priced. And it tastes good. The bread, which I only received once (see above) was toasted, buttered, and “garlicked” (yum). Drinks are standard, with a few frozen options and red sangria by the pitcher or half pitcher. For appetizers, I would go with one of their many “cocktail” appetizers, which include shrimp, conch, and other seafood. Skip the Italian section (trust me, it’s gross). For entrees, you can choose between meats, birds, fish/seafood, and mofongo menu options. I would say that all of the dishes in these sections are very authentic, especially if your order them with a side of rice and beans or tostones. But I believe Mi Casita shines most with their mofongo. I ordered the shrimp mofongo and it was fabulous, and other varieties looked just as good. The mofongos also come with a much prettier presentation than some of the other options, for all you show-offs out there. The meat section includes options like churrasco , carne encebollada, and pork chops, served with a choice of several sides, including rice and beans, salad, tostones, and French fries. The bird section includes several variations on chicken, but also a Cornish hen dish, which I haven’t seen on too many other Puerto Rican menus. The fish section has Puerto Rican takes on a few fish dishes, although I don’t recommend the camarones enchilados, it only came with 5 shrimp on a huge plate! I was hungry! If you are going to go the fish route, I definitely recommend asking if they have whole fried red snapper. It wasn’t on the menu, but we asked for it and it was fantastic.

SHOULD YOU GO?

Well, I won’t be going back, but then again, I did go three times. Mainly because people visiting me heard that Mi Casita was “authentic” and really wanted to go. I would say that if you are going to believe the hype, at least follow these recommendations:

  1. Bring a sweater. Mi Casita is always uncomfortably cold, even in the balmy Isla Verde humidity.
  2. Don’t order the Camarones Enchilados (unless you want to starve) or the Spaghetti and Meatballs (unless you want to gag). Stick with the mofongo, fried red snapper, or other Puerto Rican dish.
  3. Arm yourself with patience. The waiters are perfectly friendly, but will most likely ignore you for at least 20 minutes and will avoid your eye or raised finger like the plague. You may need to get on your knees and beg for the check.
  4. Go during an “off” time of the day, like between 2-4 p.m. I got the best service (although still pretty bad) at this time.
  5. CHECK YOUR BILL! Make sure that you receive an itemized check and verify that you ordered each and every item. And unfortunately, if you use your credit card, you may need to also check your statement online. My card was charged twice after one visit, and when I called Mi Casita, they told me that people called about this issue “all the time.” So I guess it might be better to just bring cash.
Mi Casita Restaurant
Plazoleta Isla Verde (main strip)
(787) 791-1777
7 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

4 comments:

Speaking Boricua said...

Hahahaha... suuuuuuucks!

Barbara said...

Went last night....fish dry and maye even old, service terrible, black beans ok, service bad

Nighthawkpr7 said...

This is the Worst and Most Expensive Mofongo I ever ate. The Mofongo was HARD and tasted bad along with the Seafood. Final price for 2 Mofongos was $57.67 and 1 Ice tea and a Fruit punch. The place really Suuuuuuuuuuuuuccckkssssssss!!!!

Nighthawkpr7 said...

This is the Worst and Most Expensive Mofongo I ever ate. The Mofongo was Over cooked and it tasted bad. Final price for 2 Mofongos, 1 Ice tea and 1 Fruit punch was $57.67. Service really Suuuuuuuuuuuuucks.