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Palmas de Caribbean: Mofongo comes to Durham!

Posted by YAR 4 Jun 2009 24 Comments


Palmas de Caribbean (821 N. Miami Blvd) is where Doctor’s Cove Caribbean used to be, but despite having the Caribbean in common the two restaurants are very different.  For one thing, there’s been a major makeover inside:


If you ever went to Doctor’s Cove you’ll appreciate the difference.

The menu at Palmas de Caribbean is Dominican and offers some options that I haven’t seen on a menu in Durham before.  I was especially excited to try mofongo (a mashed plantain dish).  I will eat and love any form of plantains imaginable.


You can choose from a few different kinds of meat and/or cheese to be mixed in with your mofongo; I chose pernil (roast pork) and cheese.  The dish was awesome.  I loved the pork’s flavor, though I might not get it next time because it was a bit dry.  I would love to hear how this compares to other mofongo from someone who’s had mofongo before (TSQ, I’m looking at you!) but all I know is that I couldn’t stop eating this or thinking about it later.


Our second entree was the bistec salteado (sauteed steak), which was good, but not much more exciting than an above average fajita.  The more exciting part of the meal was the two sides that came with it. We of course chose maduros (fried sweet plantain), which was amazing–you can’t really go wrong with this, the best dish on earth, but these had an especially good balance of mushy and crispy and were nice and rich.  


We also got yucca; this one was a surprise because it wasn’t fried, as it so often is, but was the best yucca we could remember having in the area.  It was just boiled, but the saltiness and texture were ideal.


Our waitress (one of the owners) suggested a couple of times that we come back for their breakfast (they open daily at 6am).  We’ll definitely be back at various times of day, I’m sure, because there are so many delicious-sounding options on the menu.  The actual menu is much more extensive than the one on their website, but they don’t necessarily have everything every day–at least the sides and possibly the entrees vary by day.  I know I’d eat anything they made for me.

The restaurant is new and it was quite empty–please check them out, I’d have to have my mofongo source dry up!


  • christinatremill said:

    Mmm, maduros. I haven’t found a good source of them since we moved from Florida, the home of Cuban food. Will definitely check this out.


  • stacienagy said:

    The last time I had mofongo locally was at Xiloa (R.I.P.). Boy, do I ache over that loss! It was a Nicaraguan/Central American place that sat where Chubby’s Tacos sits, and the chef/owner made a killer mofongo, for like $7. Also, I’ll be SO happy to check out this yuca, since I haven’t seen boiled yuca since that place either.

    And I still yearn for their “refrescos” (really, just aguas, but they had an awesome variety.


  • yum said:

    Mami Nora’s has some pretty good maduros…comparable to some of Miami’s Cuban restaurants. Definitely satisfying.



    RPP replies on June 15th, 2009 at 12:45 am:

    I have come to believe that Mami Nora’s is one of the best restaurants in Durham, hands down.


    JohnforAmerica replies on August 19th, 2009 at 8:41 am:

    I have to disagree. We’ve been to Mami Nora’s twice, and I found it unspectacular and overpriced both times. We moved here from Miami, and I know I can’t expect Miami style pricing with a much smaller population up here, but it’s quite expensive for what you actually get.


  • christinatremill said:

    Thanks for the heads up. I’ve been meaning to check it out.


  • TSQ75 said:

    HOLY CRAP! this is 100x more exciting than the stupid Cuban bar opening at ATC! Woo!

    *will report back when i can drag Sean out there with me* : )


  • TSQ75 said:

    stacienagy: Those juices at Xiloa were so much more than aguas. she may have been a bit of a tyrant, but that woman’s juice-craft was amazing. I’ll never forget her coming to the table with sample cups of that day’s juices and telling me how many differnt types of mango went into the mango juice, and how it tasted like the sunrise…she did the same kind of thing for the others too…she loved making juices, and good food.. and it showed in the product, if not the overall service


  • TSQ75 said:

    Ok, went in for lunch today-Sunday. Overall, i’d give it a B+

    Completely empty when we went in around 1130am. Woman who greeted us was warm and hospitable, like an aunt welcoming you home, as Dominicans generally are. As soon as we sat down and asked what we’d like to drink I asked for a Cafe con leche, to which she perked up and assured me she’d get me a nice strong cup of Bustelo with hot milk and sugar…the way she seemed to know i’d like it. (she came back once to assure me that it was coming, but they had to brew a new pot because all they had ready was American coffee) I was already feeling at home.

    problem 1..they took forever to get us water or even take the order, but i wasnt in a hurry, so it was fine.

    I quickly realized the tastiest and quickest way out of there was going to be to focus on the Specials, which is great. It was nice to see the traditional sunday Sancocho on the specials. I got the Rabos Guisados (Stewed oxtails, a favorite of mine) simply with white rice and red beans. I also got the Mofongo with chicharron (fried pork bits). My husband got the Bistec encebollado (steak covered with fried onions—manna if its done right)

    my oxtails were tender and flavorful, albeit on the small side. Beans were def more flavorful than your average place around here, but still needed something. But I havent met a bean I didnt like. :)

    My husband’s steak was also what it needed to be.

    and the Mofongo. I’m heartbroken to say, I will not be getting again. Incredibly dry and salty. I good mofongo has nice fat pieces of soft fresh fried green plantains smashed up. sometimes with the meat, sometimes not. sometimes the meat is on the side along with the broth.

    But I will be back because there are things i am eager to try, such as the shakes, and a few other things. Also the people were just as warm and welcoming as can be. I wish them the best of luck


  • greg said:

    I went today, the Mofongo was dry until I got some soup to dip it in , then I was in business. I also go something call canoa. It was great, fried plantations , chicken and cheese wow. My wife got a steak and rice dish that was very good. I would go back again!!


  • gazebo said:

    stacienagy & TSQ: I still mourn the loss of Xiloa, too! My favorite refrescos were the lulo (she told me it was an orange that grew in the rain forest), muscadine grape, and watermelon. I also had a corn drink once that totally reminded me of the “pot liquor” from boiling corn (a wonderful childhood summer memory…)

    I wish the owner could have found a more dedicated and/or competent staff. Her food really deserved better service – if that makes any sense…


  • anon said:

    two quick questions:

    - any good lookin veggie options?

    - what’s their breakfast like?


  • TSQ75 said:

    you can easily get the mofongo vegetarian with cheese…and of course plantains..various beans n rice type options. not tons…but some. and there’s fish if you’re that type of vegetarian ; )

    breakfast is my next aim


  • anon said:

    thanks for the heads up. let us know when you try breakfast :)


  • mofongo….La cocina a fuego lento…. Que Pasa: Latin Club helps…. | Latest Information said:

    [...] The menu at Palmas de Caribbean is Dominican and offers some options that I haven’Read more at http://carpedurham.com/2009/06/04/palmas-de-caribbean-mofongo-comes-to-durham/ [...]

  • mofongo ….Mad for Mofongo – Gapers…. La cocina a fuego lento…. | Latest Information said:

    [...] The menu at Palmas de Caribbean is Dominican and offers some options that I haven’Read more at http://carpedurham.com/2009/06/04/palmas-de-caribbean-mofongo-comes-to-durham/ [...]

  • kristie said:

    breakfast is at 6am everyday? i went there yesterday at about 9:30am and it was very closed. maybe breakfast is just on the weekend? does anyone know.


    La sombra replies on October 21st, 2009 at 11:41 pm:

    The new time is 11am-8pm weekdays
    11am-10pm weekends


  • Warren said:

    Went there just 10 days ago. food was good, not great. Service was awful. There were four of us. I got my meal pretty quickly but it was almost a half hour before the other 3 people in my party saw their food, by which time I was almost done.

    I can pretty much get everything they have here at El Cuscatleco (except monfongo) at a comparable price with FAR better service.


    La sombra replies on October 21st, 2009 at 11:38 pm:

    I beg to differ. You cannot get white rice pollo guisado, tostones beans or anything you get at Palmas in El Cuscatleco.
    you cannot compare the awesome Dominican food variety to tortillas and the simplicity of central american food.
    Palmas has taste and quality. The service is improved i give it an A.


    TSQ75 replies on February 3rd, 2010 at 10:54 am:

    I have to disagree with your narrow statement Warren…if you appreciate Latin American food, one would expect you know there are vast differences between central american cuisines and Caribbean styles of food…and even more nuanced differences amongst the individual countries.

    Both las Palmas, and el Cuscatleco are individually doing a great honor to their own cultural foods and both are independent of eachother…


  • rs said:

    Went there last night, part of a group of 6. I’d never had mofongo before so I can’t really compare it to anything, but the Puerto Rican native at our table loved her’s. She and I got the pernil (roast pork) mofongo, which is dry until you add the gravy or soup in a small bowl that comes with it. I loved it, and have enough for a lunch today. Others at the table got chicken soup, a roast pork plate, and then a pork chop dinner. Everybody was extremely happy with the food — all of it clearly made from scratch. There were side orders of platanos that were very fresh and not super sweet but very tasty.

    The service is quite deliberate so as long you are in for a leisurely 1.5 – 2 hour dinner you’ll be fine. There were a few other customers than us, but not many. It looks like a 2 person (women) operation — 1 to take orders, 1 to cook. When my wife and I visited the DR a few years ago we ate almost exclusively at comedores (sp?), very casual eating places that seemed like you were in someone’s living room, with very hearty, simple but high quality food. This place is reminiscent of those. I’d love for this place to make it.


  • eve said:

    Finally we have a spanish carribean rest. in durham. the place is decent, not in the best location. The mofongo with pernil was great not dry as i was told it would be, perhaps they made some adjustments. One of my friends ordered the mofongo with shrimp and could not stop eating it was so good. :) The service was a little slow but worth it. I will go back again soon. The price I thought was a little high, I think that if they lowered the price maybe have a lunch menu with lunch prices it would do more business. I really hope they do well and can be here in durham long term. Highly recommend this rest.


  • AJ said:

    It’s closed. :(


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