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El Coqui(Puerto Rican)-Aurora-long


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El Coqui(Puerto Rican)-Aurora-long

tony | Nov 17, 2002 10:05 AM

If you've never been to Aurora, is there a reason to go? The main draw to get out of the area folks here would be the riverboat casino. Blech! Apart from being a serious eyesore, the casino here seems to have had the same effect on Aurora as it has on Elgin, that of sucking the life out of a far west river city downtown which has some beautiful but neglected old buildings. Anyone with a passing interest in architecture could do worse than kill an hour or two walking around in downtown Aurora. There are some real finds here. On to the food...

Aurora has a large Hispanic population and a large number of Mexican restaurants, varying from taquerias to standard sit down with a tablecloth places. These have yet to be explored by myself and my wife, but I believe dickson d has been to some of these. Maybe more reports in the future after new visits.

Rather than Mexican we decided to try Puerto Rican, recommended several months ago in a post by Mugs. Thanks Mugs. I'm becoming a bit hesitant to write about a place after only one visit, seeing that a place can have good and bad days, but maybe it will be of use to someone.

We started with the Coqui Appetizer sampler to get a variety of standards. Alcapurria(stuffed with ground beef and fried plantain dough), Bacalaito(pancake like fritter stuffed with codfish) Relleno de Papa(big ol' ball of mashed pototoes colored with achiote and filled with beef and fried) and an Empanada (stuffed with ground beef). All were deep fried and slightly bordering on greasy, but not to the point of unpleasantness. They were distinct and full of flavor.

Next time we will go for entrees but for this visit we stuck with sandwiches. One Campesino(pernil, roasted pork still moist and juicy) and one Kikiriki(flavorful braised chicken in a tomato and probably sofrito sauce). The sandwiched are served on fried flattened plantains rather than bread and dressed with lettuce, tomato, cheese and mayo. Everything was brightened up a bit by a few shakes of juice from the bottle of chilis in vinegar provided. The Arroz con gandules(rice w/pidgeon peas) we ordered on the side was one of the best versions of this simple but tricky dish the wife has ever had, and she has sampled many).

So with that said, it was a nice experience for one visit, we would defintely go back and try some of the dinners which include Steak with onions, Steak in Creole Sauce, Pork Chops, Fried chicken, and Shrimp in Garlic Sauce. This place is a diner in the best sense of the word; a stainless steel backsplash with all the cabinets and fridges along with a formica counter and a dozen or so spinning stools. The service was warm and hospitable and we traded stories with the owner/cook on how no one(grandmothers/mothers) write down recipes for arroz con gandules or anything for that matter. She did.

El Coqui
7 W. Downer Place
Aurora, Il


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