2.5 stars for Puerto Rican with a global twist at Homestead’s Chefs on the Run

Miamians have long trekked to Homestead for Mexican food, BYOB coolers in tow. Now there’s a new reason to pack up the cooler, but instead of mole and menudo, it’s for mofongo, deep-fried alcapurria fritters and possibly the largest pork chop you’ve ever seen on one plate. Yes, Homestead has gone Puerto Rican.

Chefs on the Run has been drawing a steady stream of locals since it opened almost two years ago in a cranny once occupied by Los Nopalitos. Chef-owner Jodrick Ujaque has raised the bar for the humble, seven-table space by offering an eclectic menu that reflects his Puerto Rican roots and fascination with Asian and Middle Eastern food. Jodrick Ujaque cooked at Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita and Café Tu Tu Tango, and his menu is reminiscent of their globally tinged, mass-appeal approach.

Ambience: Like El Toro Taco, its popular neighbor down the street, Chefs on the Run encourages diners to bring their own beer and wine, with no corkage fee. The chef’s vivacious young wife, Jessica Ujaque, doubles as hostess-server. Born and raised in Homestead, she eagerly chats up visitors with background on food, family and the local artwork on the walls.

What Worked

  • Arroz con gandules (pigeon peas and rice)
  • Mango chutney
  • Mac and cheese with truffle oil
  • Honey-miso salmon
  • Gingered pork loin
  • Fattoush (bread and vegetable salad) with garlic nan
  • Meat-free mofongo
  • Jerk chicken pasta that slaps eaters silly on the first bite, then immediately mellows into layers of scrumptious flavor, cooled by a cilantro cream sauce
  • Standout moist and flaky plantain-crusted grouper with chorizo milled mashed potatoes
  • Fried plantain mash

    A side scoop of double-fried mofongo
  • Tembleque (coconut pudding)
  • A moist rum cake with pineapple-coconut topping

What Didn’t Work

  • Puerto Rican purists may object to the liberties that Ujaque, who was born in Mayagüez, takes with Boricua classics
  • An appetizer of surullitos (fried corn sticks) that arrives with a cilantro-lemon criolla sauce instead of Mayoketchup
  • Dry mofongo — churrasco, chicken, pork or shrimp — that comes with the garlic broth on the side
  • An enormous Kan Kan Pork Chop special – a a rib, chop and rind combination that can be extremely dry and an acquired taste