Hours: Tue.–Thu. 11:30 a.m.–8 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Sat.–11:30–8, Sun. noon–6 p.m.
Every Latin cuisine has its own take on rice and beans, but few are as singular, or as delicious, as the arroz con gandules at this back-of-a-convenience-store Puerto Rican takeout counter in Oakland’s Dimond district. The rice is orange-red and studded not with black or kidney beans, but with starchy, al-dente pigeon peas. Borinquen Soul’s arroz — the base for every combo meal — is so savory and aromatic, it’s worth a trip all on its own. But fortunately it’s only one of many delicious “grandma-style” Puerto Rican dishes on offer here. Other highlights include the garlicky grilled chicken and onions, the deep-fried empanadillas, and, best of all, the Saturday-only pernil: slow-roasted pork shoulder that’s slick with concentrated meat juices. Ask for a couple extra containers of “Borinquen Soul Sauce,” the proprietors’ amped-up version of mayuketchu, or mayonnaise-ketchup — the Puerto Rican condiment of choice.
Payment Type: Cash only