Tonight I Dined: Tropicaleo

I've got to be honest, Birmingham does not have a lot of vegan food options. But after scouring Happycow, Yelp, and Google I found the elusive vegan option. And wouldn't you know it, it's Puerto Rican food (which I've never had veganized) made with local Alabama ingredients! It's a bit tricky to find, so here are the details...located in downtown Birmingham is Pizitz Food Hall, and in it there is a stall called Reveal Kitchen that features a rotation of pop up restaurants. Tropicaleo is currently the tenant of Reveal, and if a gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan friendly kitchen interests you, swing by sooner than later before they peace out.

Tropicaleo's menu is filled with classic Puerto Rican dishes and offers two labelled vegan options. One is a sandwich with hummus, grilled eggplant, spinach, and tomato on your choice of sweet bread or large tostones. I had the mofongo, a dish that has been on my to-eat list for years, and this is the first time I've seen one labelled vegan! Mofongo is a dome of unsweetened plantains often topped with meat. In Tropicaleo's version there was grilled eggplant in the dome and served over top. The mofongo was served atop a bed of cilantro rice with a creamy aioli made of vegan mayo. 

The verdict: I love plantains, and you must also love plantains if you are going to enjoy this dish. The dish was delicious, but somewhat under-seasoned...given how starchy and one-note plantains are, I would have loved to taste more garlic, salt and herbs. The aioli sauce imparted most of the flavor in the dish and it was creamy with a hint of spice. It was incredible and I could have used even more!

Also, I must note that the price point of $15, plus tax, plus tip made this the most expensive entree I've bought in the past year. I'm really glad I checked mofongo off my bucket list, and I would definitely eat it again, but probably the next time I eat it will be with my own recipe in my kitchen (so stay tuned for that!).