There are not a lot of options when it comes to Puerto Rican cuisine in the Hudson Valley. It’s a sad truth that’s particularly unfortunate for those who are already familiar with the temptations of said cuisine, which embraces simple ingredients and a balance of sweet and savory. After all, once you’ve had stuffed sweet plantains and pastelillos, it’s really, really hard to erase the flavors from your taste buds.
Izla gets it. For nearly ten years, the family-owned Jefferson Valley restaurant has developed quite the reputation for itself as one of the only authentic Puerto Rican establishments in the Hudson Valley. This spring, it prepares to extend its food-filled success to Dutchess County.
“We searched just about all of Dutchess County and did not find anyone doing this type of menu,” Izla’s management explains of its decision to settle in the area. To remedy the mid-Hudson Valley’s culinary void, it will open a second shop on Route 9 in Fishkill, in the former home of Five Guys. As of press time, the new restaurant aims for a soft opening sometime in mid-April.
Once open, the Fishkill spot will serve up the same menu that its followers in Jefferson Valley already know and love. Izla operates as a fast-casual restaurant and catering concept, with all dishes cooked in a true Puerto Rican fashion with traditional herbs and spices.
When it finally comes time to place your order, you can’t go wrong with the pernil, or roast pork, which is available in 6 or 9 oz. portions. For a more traditional twist, get it with mofongo, or mashed plantain, which offers a starchy sweetness to complement the rich meat. If you’re new to the cuisine, play it safe with the arroz con pollo, a favorite with almost everyone that Izla often recommends to first-time visitors.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, on the other hand, go for Puerto Rican classics like pastelon, a medley of sweet plantain, beef, greens, and cheese, or rellenos, the heavenly beef-filled deep-fried potato balls that you won’t be able to stop eating (we’re not joking about this). For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the creamy, dreamy flan or the sinful tres leches cake.
Will you visit Izla when it opens location number two? Have you been to the original? Let us know in the comments!