New Puerto Rican Restaurant Opens in South End

Angel Carrasquillo, owner of Mana Escondido Cafe in the South End.

15 years after he closed his Spanish restaurant business, chef and restaurant owner Angel Carrasquillo is right back where he started.

A few weeks ago, Carrasquillo opened Mana Escondido Cafe at 68 Aguadilla St. in the South End, in the exact space that used to house his former restaurant, Pioneer, in the ’90s. 

Carrasquillo ran Pioneer for five years before deciding to sell it and start a 15-year career in the property management business in Boston. But three years ago when he was laid off from that position, his mind returned to owning his own restaurant again. 

“The owner of the building gave me a call to see if I wanted to come back to the restaurant business, and I guess it was a perfect timing because that same week I was laid off from my job,” he said. “So I jumped into the opportunity to come back. It’s like déjà vu.”

Carrasquillo said that restaurants have been in his family for generations, and still are. His grandmother owned three restaurants in Puerto Rico, and now he, his wife, their parents and their two children are all working at the new restaurant. 

The menu features a mix of Spanish breakfast, lunch and dinner food with 90 percent or so Puerto Rican, and a few signature items from the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Carrasquillo said the current top seller is Alcapurria, a snack food that’s yam, green banana and crab or beef. 

Carrasquillo said that 15 years after his last restaurant, he’s made a lot of changes, but still knows customer base. 

“My clientele know pretty much what they want,” he said, noting that he’s still altering the menu to fit the need of the neighborhood. 

Despite the restaurant being tucked away on a small side street of Tremont Street, Carrasquillo said that since the restaurant’s opening business has been good, and he even has plans to expand to outdoor seating and a Spanish buffet. 

“The neighbors have supporting the restaurant and and so far so good,” he said. 

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