The South End is one of Boston’s best dining destinations. Among the lesser-known restaurants is Vejigantes, an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant.. Vejigantes is located just off of Tremont Street, on W Dedham St., in Villa Victoria, an affordable housing development, which is perhaps why so many people haven’t heard of if. But I encourage you to make a visit; I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Vejigantes, with over 20 years of experience in the culinary industry, brings the best of the traditional Puerto Rican food. Located in the heart of Villa Victoria, Vejigantes is representative and a testament to the struggle of the Puerto Rican community in Boston. Vejigante is a clown-like character that plays an important (and mildly terrifying) role in many Puerto Rican festivals and carnivals.
Vejigantes is unique in its kind; there is nothing else like it in the city of Boston. Vejigantes is designed with an island ambiance and feel. The bright colors and traditional music make you feel welcome, and make you feel like you have actually stepped out of Boston and onto the Island of Puerto Rico.
The wine list, although rather small, features mostly New World wines (I learned this term at the Boston Wine School last month!). Glasses range from $6-$9, while bottles are priced at $27-$35, with a few more expensive bottles rounding out the list. It’s nice to see bottles in the $20-$30 range, it doesn’t happen that often these days. They also have a number of bottled beers and after dinner shots. But the cocktail menu is the highlight. Mojitos ($10), margaritas ($9), frozen daiquiris ($8) in flavors like passion fruit, banana, guava, and mango, made by adding rum to the tall fruit smoothies that are called batidos ($8), and available without alcohol.
But the real reason you should come to Vejiantes is the food. With authentic flavors, colorful and vibrant dishes that are beautifully prepared and presented, Vejiantes serves up some of the most delicious food in the city.
We started with an order of plantain chips served with fresh guacamole and home made salsa ($5). Please note, the plantains are fried in the same fryer as gluten.
The Group Ceviche ($8) was served with two green plantain “patties,” also gluten free.
I ordered the Grilled Red Snapper in a light garlic sauce ($19). The snapper was very fresh, the meat was firm, and the skin was nice and crispy. It was served with vegetables and outstanding yellow rice seasoned with a complex sofrito (garlic, onion, paprika, peppers and tomatoes cooked in oil) and dotted with pigeon peas, and pork.
Jeremy ordered the Churrasco con Salsa Chimichurri ($19), a grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce. We were impressed the portion size and the freshness of the sauce; one of the best chimichurri sauces Jeremy said he has ever had.
We also tried the Shrimp in Vejigante Creole Sauce ($18). This dish was also delicious. We loved the sauce and there were a good 9-10 shrimp in the dish!
One of the more emblematic traditional Puerto Rican dishes on the menu is the mofongo ($8), a flat-topped cone of mashed and fried green plantains stuffed with meat and served with chicken broth. This hearty dish, has a mild, lightly crisped outside, and is one of the best values on the menu. You also have the option of ordering it with chicken or pork. There are also several paellas for single servings or to share. This dish is naturally gluten free but it is fried in the same fryer as gluten containing items.
If you are looking for great food off the beaten track I recommend heading over to Vejigantes. Now that the weather is getting warmer, Vejigantes offers outdoor seating.
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