Considering Miami’s demographics, Caribbean cuisine is normally a pretty good bet, and on my most recent trip to the city, one of my favorite meals was at El Bajareque, a Puerto Rican lunch counter in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. Mariano Palenzuela, a Puerto Rico native, runs the restaurant with wife Melissa Chavez, and his mom Amarilis Fernandez steers the kitchen. Regardless of the day, they showcase comforting entrees like lechon asado, chicharrones de pollo, and bistec empanizado. Those all looked tempting when leaving the kitchen, but it was impossible to resist Friday’s special, Rabo Encendido ($8.25).
Stewed oxtails arrive in a tangy tomato based-broth with bright acidity that also includes green olives, onions and peppers. The tender meat pulls easily from the tail’s chambers. Each entree comes with a choice of two sides. I selected yucca con mojo, tender slabs of yucca root bathed in tangy vinegar based mojo onions. I also enjoyed arroz con gandules, yellow rice studded with earthy pigeon peas, which the chef punctuated with nubs of salted pork.