I had read a number of positive reviews of Mini Mal, so we had high hopes. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. For drinks, I had my usual cerveza con michelada and Alex went for the maracuya (passion fruit) and tequila cocktail that I had also been eyeing, because he’s a doll like that.
After scanning the menu, we realized that even with the best Google translate and my moderate Spanish, we were hard pressed to really understand what the items on the menu were. So, we asked our server for his favorite entrada (appetizer) and platos fuertes (entrees).
Alex was hesitant, pointing out that most servers in the U.S. would just point to the most expensive items on the menu. After asking our server for his recommendations, he pointed out a very local appetizer and two amazing sounding entrees, that also ended up being the least expensive on the menu. Ah yes, South America, you are lovely.
The first appetizer that came out was the one that we added to our server recommendations, which was called Pica Pica. We saw the words “frito” and “queso” next to each other and had to try it out. I’d give it a 3/5 as much as I’d like to say the fried cheese was the best thing we had all night.
The next appetizer that came out was our server recommendation. It was a plate called Tumaco, which was fried plantain balls stuffed with fresh crab, with some amazing sauces that I couldn’t tell you what they were. This was possibly the most rich and memorable plates I’ve had in awhile. So, so good. 5/5 without a doubt.
Next came the entrees. We really didn’t know what to expect since they were our server recommendations. The two plates arrived, both looking more like art than food. The Selva Adentro was a plate of braised steak with bugs on top of it and a side of plantain fries. The other, Vamos a la Playa, looked like the bottom half of a fish, baked, topped with sauteed onions and then mango chutney of some sort.
Overwhelmingly, the Selva Adentro was the winner between the two. There was no beating how soft and flavorful the meat was, without any sort of sauces. 5/5 without a doubt. The bugs were also a nice addition. Vamos a la Playa was also pretty delicious, but without the toppings, the fish itself would have been a bit bland. 3/5 on my scale, I’d say.
All in all, you must go to Mini Mal. Run, not walk, it’s that delicious. And be sure to ask for their recommendations, they know what they’re talking about.
I feel as though I’d be remiss not to mention the amazing cocktail we had before dinner at INSTINTO. The tequila cocktail with tamarind I had was the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. Highly recommend!