Finally, and due to a lack of parking at our original destination, we stopped at Bongos Caribbean Café, a little oasis of deliciousness across Aurora Avenue from Green Lake. It can be a quick “I don’t want to cook” dinner on any night of the week (except Monday), or a relaxing lunch hangout when the weather is fine.
It’s very casual – think paper plates and plastic forks. You order from an overhead menu board at the counter. Before I had even decided what to get I knew that I would be back, because there were too many items that I wanted to try.
The Spicy Shrimp Plate made me feel more virtuous than any of the sandwiches, which all sounded fabulous. Then my husband ruined my virtue with a side of yucca fries and maduros (fried plantains). “Plates” come loaded with your entrée of choice, rice and beans (not refried), and a hefty mound of taste-bud balancing mango slaw. Mike’s Picadillo plate (Cuban hash of ground turkey, chorizo, green olives and golden raisins) disappeared before I could ask him how it was. I guess that was answer enough.
Yucca fries were perfectly cooked and well complimented by the cilantro aioli. A word about the fried plantains – I don’t usually care for these, as I’ve found them greasy and bland in the past. But Bongos serves them up hot and thickly cut, delivering fresh flavor through the frying process. Just sweet enough to serve as dessert, you can order a small dishful as a side or enjoy the one bite that comes with “plate” orders. Although we were too full to finish the really lovely yucca fries, I managed to tuck away more than half of the extra plantains we got.
We can’t wait ‘til summer so we can sit out on the patio – not to pretend we’ve escaped to the Caribbean, but to enjoy the best of both worlds: Caribbean cuisine on a clear, almost-cool Seattle summer day or evening.
Note: Although I’m embarrassed to admit that we drove the half mile in the rain, you can walk from the inn along Phinney Avenue to 65th or 66th, turn right and run right into Bongos at the bottom of a very steep hill. If you’re enjoying Green Lake first, use the crosswalk (don’t jaywalk) at 68th to traverse Aurora Avenue.