We had not been to MIO in it's 6+ year existence, which is a shame. Last night we discovered a truly warm, friendly, Latin establishment that we will return to for sure.
MIO (http://www.miorestaurant.com) is right on Vermont & L downtown (street parking) and was jammed last night as Restaurant Week is on and the prices are $35.13 for three courses (albeit from a very limited menu). The choices here are wide and the food is indeed VERY filling.
We were warmly greeted by owner Manuel Iguina at the entry, who keeps a hawk's eye on every going on. He checked with us and always was cheery. We did tell him that we thought the very loud woman in the corner (which we called the "cackle corner") was having high-pitched piercing cackling orgasms; he laughed alot. Yes, the din this week is a bit too loud for us, but perhaps when it's less busy, the place is calmer.
I had thought MIO was Italian - stupid moi - and promised Samuel pasta, but he would have none of the Latin dishes, not even the Puerto Rican Lasagna! Uh-oh! Well, he loves steak and garlic and was thrilled with a main course of CHURRASCO skirt steak with chunky ajili mojili (Puerto Rican garlic sauce). Our wonderful server, Daniela (who was 7 months pregnant!!!) even offered to replace the rice and tostones with superb cheese, cilantro, garlic fries.
Will started with a Spicy Machu Pisco with Aji Amarillo, Passion Fruit and Lime Sour which was a bit too sweet. My Mio Margarita was divine with Tequila, Cointreau and Blood Orange. Samuel discovered the Virgin LimeAid Mojito! We moved on to a superb smooth bottle of Tierra Crianza Tempranillo 2009 from Rioja that Daniela suggested and was spot on with. Oddly the front of the bottle said 2009, but the back said 2008?!
Manuel's wife Karla is in the kitchen, and she loves the food she creates; it is clear. Will and I both started with the Pastelrelleno, a Puerto Rican Pastel (enchilada in banana leaf) stuffed with chicken in pimento sauce. It was quite filling, but do watch out for small chicken bones as Karla leaves them in for extra flavor.
Samuel tired the Tostones starter with beans, escabeche and cured salmon, but would only eat the crunchy tostone on the bottom. Will and I polished off the tasty bean and flavorful salmon!
For the main course, Will and I both had Chuleta de Cerdo, a tasty boneless pork chop with a yummy rum sauce, stir fired kale and a divine Yuca Mofongo. I haven't a decent mofongo in ages and this was a good one with the escabeche-like kale spread over it.
I forgot to mention the bread which is superb, crusty and warm and comes with the most divine cilantro-garlic butter than even the no-butter Samuel adored.
Dessert was a success with CHOCOLATE CUATRO LECHES and COCONUT CARIBBEAN TIRAMISU (more of a gelled custard cake than tiramusu) being medium-size portions that had us beyond full!
It was a great restaurant week start-off, even with my Mio mistake!