Bachelor party weekend. That’s what was happening the first time I tried Vejigantes. About a dozen of my closest friends took me out for lunch at Vejigantes on the second day of my weekend-long bachelor party bash in Boston (say, “Bachelor party bash in boston” three times fast). I’m not exactly sure why they picked this Puetro Rican restaurant as our stop off for lunch. Perhaps it was simply close to where we got professional hot shaves or perhaps it was just an excuse for us to eat copious amounts of salty, fried, chicharron to start our day. Regardless of the reason, we enjoyed ourselves as we tried a few of the staple menu items.
57 West Dedham Street
Service and Atmosphere
The interior of Vejigantes is equal parts modern and traditional Hispanic restaurant. The big windows let in a good amount of light and the decor of cultural masks keep the walls interesting. The service is friendly and accomodating, especially when dealing with 12 immature men making a lot of noise.
Practically everything my friends and I tried at Vejigantes delivered on great Puetro Rican and pan-Hispanic flavors. We thoroughly enjoyed the various presentations of plantains, meats, and seafood.
Michelada – What do you drink at a Puerto Rican restaurant for lunch when you’re out for a bachelor party or simply looking to start the day off with a buzz? Apparently, you drink Mexican beverages called Micheladas according to my friends. A few of us enjoyed Vejigantes’ take on the drink, which is like a beer and Bloody Mary stuffed into one glass. The spiciness was just right to accompany the meal and provided a built-in way to pace ourselves.
Plantain Chips, Salsa, and Guacamole – As you can see in the picture, the plantain chips, salsa, and guacamole went pretty quickly. I barely had a chance to take the picture before my horde of hungry friends descended upon the unsuspecting dish. The plantain were perfectly crispy and the pico de gallo salsa was a big hit. The guacamole was also pretty good, but the pico seemed like it was everyone’s favorite.
Alcapurrias – I’d never had alcapurrias before. These are “fritters” made from ground plantains stuffed with ground beef and fried. The end result of the dish is a super dense brick of greasy starch and protein. My friend ordered this to accompany his lunch because, well, he’s that friend that never gets full and needs a little extra with each meal. Nonetheless, even he had trouble eating these. While these weren’t necessarily my favorite food from Vejigantes, I was glad to try them.
Paella – Surprisingly, we found paella on the menu, but I’m not sure it is a regular menu item. One of my friends opted to give it a try. The paella came out in a small dish full of seafood and rice. The seafood tasted alright, but the rice was a bit gummy. Overall, this wasn’t the best dish and I think my friend was disappointed with it when he saw what the rest of us were eating. It wasn’t bad, but there are better paellas out there.
Chicharrón and Maduros (Sweet Plantain) or Tostones (Salty Green Plantain) – The star of the show came in the form of bite-sized pieces of chicharron (fried pork skin with meat). Often, chicharron comes as one large, long strip of scored pork rind. It tastes like crispy, unsmoked, bacon on steroids and it is divine. At Vejigantes, they serve this perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside version already cut up into small pieces. It’s like the most hardcore form of nuggets. I gave a piece to my friend who had never tried them before and was apprehensive because of the description. He immediately become a believer. You can order the chicharron with a side of plantains that are either sweet or savory. I chose the maduros (sweet plantains) to offset the saltiness of the chicharron.
A couple of my other friends chose the tostones, which are flattened, double-fried, salted, green plantains. These are also excellent. Ultimately, no mater which plantains you choose, they are sure to function as a heavy yet delicious accompaniment.
It’s not always easy to find places with great plantains and chicharron even though they are arguably some of the more basic Hispanic food items to prepare. We had a great time at Vejigantes and if I’m in Boston with a hankering for delicious Puetro Rican food, I would definitely stop by again. I personally cannot wait to go back and try some of the other items on the menu as well.