by Angela Perez
Oh, my goodness – a couple of lady friends joined me tonight to try the crispy suckling pig at the newly opened restaurant – Lechon Latin BBQ Joint (here in Raleigh, NC). “Lechon” in Spanish refers to whole-roasted suckling pig. I was craving tender slabs of meat underneat crispy crackling pork skin glistening with fat juices. And the verdict?
We LOVED IT.
The owner is the man who started Tropical Picken Chicken in Wake Forest (he has since sold both the Wake Forest and Raleigh locations to new owners; the Wake Forest location is closed permanently), the Arepa Bar (in Raleigh), and Casa Cubana (in Wake Forest). We swooned over the perfectly fried hot crispy yucca fries, fried plantains, tangy elote salad, and the coleslaw (OH THE SLAW – it has cilantro in it – why did I never think of that? I’m half Southern and half Mexican – that should have been obvious to me. Also, and most importantly – the slaw is not sweet. It’s savory and any sweetness come from the crema or mayo itself. I utterly dislike sweet, sugary slaw, which is more of an odd dessert and does not work as an accompaniment to meat. Lechon does their slaw exactly right.) The restaurant has the bread for the Cuban sandwiches brought in from Tampa. The owner brought out some of the toasted bread for us to try – and I slathered that bread with the slaw and the lechon (crispy marinated pork) and made a sandwich to die for.
The gals I dined with are not easy to impress (one is Cuban and has a keen eye for traditional preparation and another is quite the fussy gourmand and wine professional) when it comes to Latin cooking – and we ate until we couldn’t breathe. He brought out some carnitas fried rice – SWEET LORD, I never even knew such a thing existed. The restaurant is big, modern, and sleek, located next to the Barnes and Noble at Triangle Town Center in north Raleigh, NC (it’s not IN the mall – it’s outside the mall). It’s a casual place, you order at the counter and sit down and wait for heaven to descend upon you. Jazzy Puerto Rican tunes set the tone. The owner is a cool tatted up fella – a self-described Nuyorcan – who loves what he’s doing. I definitely recommend it. They have a Facebook page and Instagram and website so you can check out the menu. My girlfriends and I plan to add this into our regular dining routine – which is a saying a lot given all of the choices Raleigh has these days. It’s a fun place to eat awesome food. And it always makes me happy when I find a joint I know I’ll keep going back to.