It's funny how things happen -- like if my roommate had never moved out and taken with her the best and hottest habanero sauce in the world, I never would have found We Like It Hot!, an awesome little Caribbean place that serves great food and, above all, the yummiest sweet plantains.
I had been searching for a place called Some Like It Hot -- a store that specializes in salsas and hot sauces -- so that I could replace the missing hot sauce. Problem was (and still is), I was having the damnedest time tracking down the store's location. So I began casually mentioning my plight to friends and co-workers, in hopes that the whereabouts of said specialty store would be revealed. I have yet to find the store, but I've learned about all sorts of places whose names contain the word "hot."
The other day when I mentioned my quest to yet another friend, he swore the store was out on South Academy, in the same strip mall as the Sand Creek Library. I thought for sure I was finally onto something.
There was indeed a place next to the library called We Like It Hot! Close ... but the Puerto Rican flags in the window told me this was probably not the store I was looking for. Hoping for the best, though, I forged ahead.
Upon entering, my hot-sauce hankering immediately dissolved and plain old hunger took over. Turns out, We Like It Hot! specializes in Caribbean cuisine. Wooed by the intoxicating aromas of sweet onions, peppers and what I later discovered was a pot of pinto beans simmering on the stove, I took a few more steps inside.
An incredibly sweet woman standing behind the counter greeted me, invited me to have a seat and handed me a menu. I needed only to see the word plantains and, there I was, settling into a window booth.
The menu is broken down by day (Monday through Saturday), and each day offers choices in four categories -- meats, rice, soup and beans, side orders. You choose one dish from each category, creating what they like to call "your own Hungry Man--style platter." The choices within each change daily.
Thursday's options were intriguing. I could choose pickled fried fish, brisket or roasted pork. I chose Pescado frito en escabeche -- the pickled fish. Initially, I was hesitant, but the friendly woman, who is also an owner and cook, insisted that if I liked fish, I had to try this specialty. Wise advice in the end.
Four pieces of lightly breaded, lightly fried, tenderly cooked fish came on a huge mound of white rice (my choice), with pinto beans (also my choice -- and so good!) and sweet plantains (delectable banana chips done up like French fries, only sweet and tasty, not too greasy).
The amount of food piled on the plate was insane. It turned out to be two days' worth of food, and, in my budgeted life, this is important; $8.95 is pretty steep for lunch. But you will not leave We Like It Hot! hungry. I left stuffed, with my box of leftovers in one hand, and an order of fried plantains (crispier than the sweet plantains, more like potato chips) in the other.
It's funny how events unfold, how one circumstance leads to another completely unexpected and unrelated experience. I still have no hot sauce. My quest continues. But now, so does my hankering for plantains.
-- Suzanne Becker