|Monfongo minus the stew|
The menu clearly says it is a take-out place, but Shiftless Husband reports they have tables, just not very many. Full disclosure: I have tried my best to be objective, because Cynthia's replaced my beloved Indian restaurant. For native Cecil Countians, it is right by Jake's Hamburgers in Elkton. Unfortunately, the layout of the strip mall means 1.) Jake's is the only restaurant that is visible from the road and 2.) the smell of hamburgers pervades the general area. I'm not bitter or anything, but that's a pretty big advantage.
Cynthia's is a family owned and run business. Based on my thorough research (I read the back of the menu), Cynthia is the owner's sister who suffered an asthma attack and now lives in a nursing home due to a subsequent Anoxic Brain Injury*. The restaurant is named after her because she loved her sister's cooking. Naturally, my first thought on reading this heart-breaking story was, "So much for a hysterically cruel review." Luckily, I didn't need to unsheathe my criticism dagger because the food was pretty good.
|Rice and Beans|
Not to say there is no room for improvement. There is a lot of opportunity for a vegetarian menu, but nothing specifically defined as such. Shiftless Husband got me the Monfongo, which is described as "Fried mashed plantains w/garlic" with meat stew. So, I didn't get the stew. Do I think the gravy was probably meat-based? I do. But I've never been that picky and apparently even plants can feel pain now, therefore we are all horrible people no matter what we eat. Pass the gravy. The fried plantains with gravy were delicious. The garlic was just enough to make the dish subtle and savory, without overpowering the plantains. Because a girl cannot live on fancy bananas alone, I also stole some of the beans and rice from the kids' platter. The beans had green olives in them. This has changed my life completely. From this day forth, I refuse to eat beans without green olives. You have all been warned. I was slightly disappointed that the rice was just plain white rice because whenever I have had Puerto Rican food in the past, the rice was seasoned in a way that I have never been able to replicate. However, with the beans the seasoning may have been lost anyway. Taken together, the rice and beans were a success.
|Chicharrones de Pollo, sweet potato fries...and BBQ sauce.|
The kids got Chicharrones de Pollo which is a way of saying "chicken nuggets" that guarantees I will need to refer to the menu for spelling at least three times. Since Shiftless Husband has a phobia about ketchup, we eat our nuggets with BBQ sauce, otherwise known as Extra-Extra fancy ketchup. We also got a side of sweet potato fries, which were fairly standard but still a big hit. Even better were the yuca fries that came with Shiftless Husband's Cuban sandwich. They may have had some cheese mixed in, but I didn't care what was on them or that they were technically not mine. I couldn't stop eating them and forgot to take a picture before they were gone. I have failed as a super-serious food review person.
|Last of the corn fritters (Sorullitos de Maiz)|
We didn't get dessert (so we will have to go back), but we did get the corn fritters, which were a sweet way to end the meal. I managed to catch myself before eating the last one and take a picture. Even if we had tried the desserts, we will still go back to Cynthia's. It seems like a business that should be supported and the food is very good. Check them out and let me know what you think. I promise that every once and a while it is safe to veer beyond the safety of Jake's.
Cynthia's "A Taste of Puerto Rico"
Bridge Street Plaza
5 Commercial Plaza
Elkton, MD 21921
Mon-Fri 11:00-7:00 (despite this, they were open on Saturday. The menu may need a bit of reworking.)
*CORRECTION: The original post listed the owner's sister as deceased. I regret the error.