El Coqui is down Grand Avenue in New Haven and Awilda is a traditional Puerto Rican cook, complete with the affordable bill. Plantains come sweet, fried, mashed and stuffed with meat. Roasted pork is always available. Everything comes with rice and beans. Empanadas stay warm in the glass box with the hot lightbulbs, just like at the local places back on the island. When I first moved to New Haven, some Puerto Rican friends took me to El Coqui (named after the native tree frog that sings at night) and I knew that whenever I got homesick, this was a place I could go. It's plain Puerto Rican comfort food and it's delicious. Most things are fried, so be prepared to cheat on your diet, and be ready for a different experience. Cilantro and garlic are an undercurrent in most island cooking. You can sit in or take out and you won't be broke. The prices are perfect for my recently-graduated budget. It's a humble place and has the worn-in feel of a luncheonette on a street on the plaza of a number of Puerto Rican towns. You'll love it.
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