Posted by: Sienna Howarde in: Restaurant Quotes
Preliminary visit not yet rated
People often ask me what I think is the best restaurant in a given category in town (e.g.: the best French, the best Mexican, the best Chinese, etc.).
To be honest, Im usually a bit stumped most restaurants are best for certain things (best progressive French: Baru 66; best classic French: Montage ). However, I will need no such hedging if someone asks me for the best Ecuadorean restaurant in the Des Moines area.
Hands down, its Mi Patria.
Never mind that its the only Ecuadorean restaurant in town; the restaurant offers some great culinary exploration for the price.
Who/what: Husband-and-wife team Cesar Miranda and Dalila Alonzo opened Mi Patria in mid-March. Those who have visited the World Food Festivals may have sampled Mirandas fare he has prepared his Ecuadorean specialties there for the past four years.
Décor: Traditional Ecuadorean costumes and historic sepia-toned photographs of Ecuador decorate the maize-colored stucco walls; the long, slender room is divided by arched partitions, adding a snug feel to an otherwise simple strip-mall spot.
Menu: With a vast coastline, Ecuadorean cooking brings plenty of seafood; find ceviche, along with shrimp, mixed seafood and tilapia dishes. Beef, pork and chicken meats found in the countrys inland regions are featured in uncomplicated preparations such as Arroz con Pollo (chicken and rice), Seco de Pollo (stewed chicken), roast pork shoulder and grilled steaks. Most dishes come with generous helpings of rice or potatoes (or both), staples of Ecuadors cuisine.
Tastes first impressions: Llapingachos, a specialty of the countrys mountainous regions, brought an appetizer of fried mashed potato patties stuffed with cheese and served with a warm peanut sauce. I found them to be satisfying, in a straightforward and rustic way.
Beautifully pan-fried tilapia crisp and lightly golden on the outside, while glisteningly moist on the inside arrived with a pair of fried plantains, a side of lentil-studded rice and a simple lettuce salad topped with avocado and paper-thin slices of vinaigrette-dressed red onions, tomatoes and peppers.
Pork lovers should order anything with hornado, a typical Ecuadorean specialty of roasted pig. Our plate arrived with succulent shards of marinated, roasted pulled pork shoulder, along with salad, rice, mote (white hominy) and llapingachos.
Be sure to ask for some aji a spicy house-made condiment made with chiles, peas, tomatoes and tree tomatoes, which the server said the owners grow themselves.
Bottom line: Great for culinary explorers and anyone who enjoys hearty, value-priced fare.