Fusion fare delights diners in the city centre by way of Juanitos

by Rebecca Ryan

LA soul food, drawing on traditional tastes from Central America fused with Asian flavours, has come onto the food scene right in the heart of Dublin city.

Juanitos, located at no 35 Drury Street, offers a truly unique and tasty culinary experience.

Howth-born chef Johnnie Cooke opened the doors of Juanitos last December and it has been thriving ever since.

Lee Doyle, Juanitos’ head chef (formerly of The Exchequer) has a wealth of experience under his belt, having worked in Michelin star kitchens.

Lee describes the menu as: “healthy, fresh, vibrant and tasty”.

When you walk through the doors you are greeted with a warm, relaxed ambience. The staff are extremely welcoming, with great passion and recommendations on the menu.

The menu has plenty of interesting options to choose from – so much so, I wished I had two stomachs to try everything … there’s always next time!

The prices are very reasonable for a city centre location, with mains starting at €8.50.

Juanitos sure know how to do tacos very well. Bursting with flavours, you can get Mexican beer-battered shrimp tacos with salsa fresca, guacamole, shredded cabbage, lime aioli and yellow corn tortillas.

There’s also an all-day taco special served daily where you get three for €9.

For some guilty pleasure, there’s plenty of Asian cuisine to try.

The Sticky Korean Popcorn Chicken with grilled pineapple, spring onion, sesame, toasted cashews, jasmine rice is a must, along with the Korean ‘dry-fried’ crispy chicken wings with an interesting sauce of soy, honey, sesame and choice of sauce – yes, I did eat both in one sitting!

There is also the popular Rotisserie Chicken Arepas with yellow corn cakes, chicken, guacamole, salsa fresca, cotija cheese marinated and coated with the special house glaze and choice of sauce.

To try something different as a side, there are yummy avocado fries served with chilli flakes, cilantro, pesto, and sea salt. Deep-fried fruit is technically still ‘healthy’, right?

To top it off, if you still have room, there are delicious very homely house-baked pastries to choose from and Costa Rican coffee to wash it down.

Juanitos’ signature coffee from McCabes Coffee, named ‘Pura Vida’ (meaning ‘simple life’) has a backbone of mild roasted Costa Rican coffee from Hacienda Aquiares, delicately balanced with a little Brazil, Indian and Sumatran Arabica.

The city centre restaurant certainly delivers on taste. I heard their food described as a “party in your mouth” and when observing customers in the packed restaurant, there were a lot of pleasure-imbued “mmm” sounds coming from punters as they dived into their dishes.

Juanitos is perfect for a quick tasty bite from breakfast to dinner, pre-shows bites, or just as equally also perfect spending a longer time chilling out with family and friends with great food.

Tip – If you get a chance, sit by the window seats; they’re perfect for people-watching.

For further information about the restaurant, see juanitos.ie.

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