2015-05-13 / Restaurant of the Week

MI CANDELA…

Authentic Puerto Rican Cuisine

Mi Candela offers a unique dining experience with the most traditional Puerto Rican cuisine outside of abuela’s house. Owner and chef, William Cordero, a real estate developer by profession, has given it all up so he could come ‘home’ to his beloved “Mi Candela”, where his passion for traditional Puerto Rican cuisine burns like a flame, for which his restaurant is named.

Mi Candela opened nearly four years ago and is easy to find, on Steinway Street between 31st Avenue and Broadway, just across from the Municipal lot. Listen for the Latin music and step in for a lively Happy Hour, served from 5pm-10pm where you’ll find $3 Margaritas, and $5 Mojitos, strawberry margaritas, and beer. From the cocktail list, The “Puerto Rican Kiss” teases with Malibu passion fruit rum and fruit juices, while the “Twisted Cosmo” incorporates orange vodka to mix this perfectly pink concoction. Fruity sangria, wines and beers are also available.

Cordero does all the cooking with pride and passion, using high quality ingredients and his mom’s recipes. I’ll say straight away that everything is made from scratch and these dishes are never greasy, heavy, or salty. The fresh flavors from the natural ingredients come through in every delicious dish and the portions are generous and great for sharing. We were brought “canoa” as a first course. This sweet plantain resembles a canoe and is filled with savory, seasoned beef in a delectable sauce ($5).

The cod fish fritters called “bacalaitos” are the best around, crunchy and golden on the outside, with sweet, flaky codfish in the middle ($4). “Chicharron de pollos” are tender morsels of fried, boneless chicken that are great for snacking during your Happy Hour. Share a plate of golden fried calamari, crab patties or chorizo sausage in red wine to start off. Soul-warming chicken soup or seafood soup is a great choice too. Enjoy a cool salad of avocado with light dressing, a mixed green salad, shrimp, codfish or seafood salad. Ceviche is a seafood cocktail marinated in citrus juices and cilantro and is the perfect tropical appetizer.

There are certain dishes that define Puerto Rican cuisine and “Mofongo” is one of them. Mashed, savory plantains are combined with ingredients such as plump shrimp, chicken, or pork with cilantro and mild spices to produce a truly unique combination of flavors and textures, beautifully served in a carved, wooden bowl. Puerto Rican cuisine is not “hot” but very flavorful. Spoon on the aromatic sauce for even more flavor. “Pernil” is another cornerstone of this cuisine; a slow-roasted pork shoulder that melts in your mouth with this super tender cut of juicy meat. If you prefer red meat, you must try the grilled skirt steak, cooked to order and served with Mi Candela’s famous rice and homemade beans. Again, these beans are stewed with fresh ingredients, and are neither heavy nor salty so pour them on your rice! Grilled or fried pork chops are popular too, as is the chicken breast grilled with simple seasoning and great taste.

Seafood and fish dishes include classic shrimp in a fragrant garlic sauce, seafood with rice, grilled salmon, or “pargo frito”, a whole fried red snapper topped with zesty salsa.

For dessert, we cooled off with cool, creamy flan in golden caramel sauce, made by William. He also makes a special bread pudding, flavored with rum and raisins and “tres leches” cake. Come for lunch, served from 12pm-3pm with great sandwiches like the “Cubano” and salads.

Upstairs at Mi Candela, you’ll find a dance hall that’s available for private functions and regularly hosts birthday, anniversary, engagement parties, and more. On other nights, it’s open for hot Latin dancing until 4am so bring your dancing shoes and your sexiest outfit. Check their website for special events.

Mi Candela is open six days and nights a week for lunch, dinner, Happy Hour, and dancing till the wee hours. (Closed Mondays). There’s street parking and in the Municipal lot just across the street. Come hungry, thirsty and ready for the delicious, unique flavors of traditional Puerto Rican cuisine thanks to William Cordero. Dance it off late nights upstairs at the sultry lounge or bring your own party. Every night is a fiesta at Mi Candela!

31-31 Steinway Street
Astoria • 917.396.4735

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