The Ybor dining scene is nothing short of a trip around the world. From Cuban to Italian, Greek, Irish and more, the cuisine in Ybor City is a mirror reflection of all the cultures that have made this legendary Tampa district what it is today.
But really, Greek, Irish, Cuban, and Italian cuisine aren't too uncommon in any big city like ours. What threw me for a curveball was the buzz about a small Argentinean restuarant, El Puerto, in Ybor. Spanish and Cuban restaurants, sure. But, Argentinean? Definitely not something you find dotting the city streets.
The main focus at El Puerto is Argentinean cuisine, but the menu is more of a mix with Peruvian, Spanish, and Cuban influences as well.
For lunch, they offer a small menu of their classic dishes priced extremely well for all you get. Churrasco skirt steak, grilled pork chops, and a mini version of their Paradilla (mixed grill of Argentinean sausage, skirt steak, chicken breast, and pork chops) all find their place on the lunch menu.
For $9, two pork chops and a side of black beans and rice was a steal, and insanely good at that. Each decently sized pork chop came with a fried egg on top making for an interesting flavor combination. It feels like you're waging knife-y war cutting into these things, but with the taste of one piece, all is forgiven. Flavor just permeates the pork chops inside and out. Throw in a little of that creamy egg yolk, a dab of their special Aji sauce, and it's pure bliss.
And about that Aji sauce; it's like a creamy, almost mustard-like blend of red pepper and surely a ton of other spices. It's got kick, but also a little substance to it. After one taste, it's hard not to get hooked if you're a fan of the spicy stuff.
For a lunch portion, this whole meal was huge. And, for $9, it's hard to complain. El Puerto, from my experience is a hit and definitely worth the repeat visits.