Run the Dish Episode 2: Talking the MofonGO Takeover with Chef Manolo Lopez

If you’ve never had it (in which case, you’re missing out), mofongo is Puerto Rico’s unofficial national dish. Green plantains are mashed with garlic and folded with savory ingredients like chicharron, chunks of chicken or shrimp, and vegetables, then piled into a compact mound. The hearty meal is more than a starchy, satisfying treat – it’s a reminder of Puerto Rico’s West African heritage: mofongo can be traced back to that region’s fufu dish.

At Mofon·GO NY, the brainchild of on the rise pop-up restaurateur Manolo Lopez, crowds line up early for heaping (biodegradable!) cups of the stuff, which comes topped with fresh chopped cilantro, bell peppers, and a choice of mayoketchup or Sriracha mayo. The cups may look deceptively small, but trust that a serving of these bold flavors and radiant colors will have you stuffed for hours.

Lopez’s stand is the only Puerto Rican fare among hundreds of vendors Brooklyn’s famous food market Smorgasburg. It’s his answer to the high-end U.S. comfort food trend that has dominated the NYC food scene for so long (think fancy fried chicken, truffle mac n’ cheese, and black label burgers). Why not make a Boricua comfort food classic (with a recipe inspired by mom) trendy too?