Mojito Café is an amalgamation of several Latin cuisines, a fusion of flavors and dishes with a big emphasis on the Caribbean. The restaurant itself is unassuming and casual. It almost feels like you’ve wandered into a local Hispanic neighborhood joint where home cooking is enjoyed in a laid back atmosphere. The food and flavors all hint to the islands, but the authenticity is slightly lacking. Invariably Mojitos Café seems to be Latin cooking with a varied, yet pleasing execution.
Don’t get me wrong, the dishes are appealing but don’t go expecting Abuelita’s homegrown recipes. Here you’ll find a slight twist or creative departure from traditional Hispanic fare. And I dare to say, it ‘aint bad.
Many dishes are served with asparagus. Living many years in Miami and eating many dinners in Hispanic households, I’ve never once seen a green vegetable. Pseudo vegetables usually included those with a distinctive starchy nature – root veggies, to be precise. But, you won’t really find those here, many of Mojito Café’s entrees make use of the vivid green stalk which add a splash of color to the presentation making you feel that they are verging on gourmet.
Assuredly, Mojitos entrees offer the ubiquitous Latin staple of white rice, with small homage to Spain. The rice has been infused with sazon seasoning and the saffron yields a delicate yellow hue.
My first order of business was to make a selection from the drink menu. I chose the Caipirinha, a Brazilian favorite, a muddle of Cachaca 51, lime, brown sugar and a squirt of soda water. Not bad, but possibly an acquired taste. Next I tried the Champagne-Passion Punchtini which was more my style. This sweeter, fruitier cocktail consisted of brut champagne, passionfruit rum and a splash of juice. This really shook my maracas.
I decided to take a stab at the daily chalk-board special which offered up a pork chop, rice, black beans and plantains. An unmistakably Latin dish, I decided to go with this. The chop was a slightly thicker cut than what is typical for Latino fare. I was concerned about dryness, but let me tell you, there was no reason to worry. This chop was juicy, flavorful, and full of the intermingling of sweet and saltiness I’d expected. The rice, beans and plantains were a delicious and filling complement.
Being the curious, wide-eyed adventurer that I am, I tried my dinner companion’s Pernil de Lechon. I was skeptical at first, but after the initial forkful, I found the pork to be moist and abundant with flavor. Quite honestly, it was better than anything I’ve had in Little Havana. Popping with garlic, sweet onion and a hint of cooking wine, I was impressed by this truly amazing rendition: pulled pork – Latin style!
My other companion ordered the Fricassee Latino, attempting to maintain his vegan ways. Despite the fact that there was no meat involved, it was absolutely delicious. The robustness of the green peppers, onions, assorted vegetables melded nicely with the sweet, yet tangy zest of tomato sauce piled upon a bed of lightly chartreuse rice. Delicioso! I may have exclaimed at the very moment I convinced him to allow me a forkful.
The flavors were impressive, the wait staff helpful and the overall experience intriguing. Mojito Café is definitely worthy of a try. If you like Latin food or want to experience a semblance of the taste of the islands, I’d highly recommend a stop here. Mojitos Café is located not too far from the beach at 300 28th Street in Virginia Beach. Visit their website at www.mojitocafevab.net for more information.