It's time for mofongo: Puerto Rican restaurant opens in Ashtabula

Emelinda Cruz and her husband Jose Cruz pose in front of El Turpial Fine Flavors restaurant on Main Avenue in Ashtabula. The family restaurant recently opened and features a variety of Puerto Rican food.

ASHTABULA — It’s the newest addition to Main Avenue... and it will give you a “taste” of Puerto Rico.

Now open El Turpial True Flavors is at 4914 Main Ave. They say they are serving the only authentic Puerto Rican food in Ashtabula. That includes mashed plantains with chicken or pork, as well as traditional Puerto Rican styles of rice and beans.

The restaurant, where seating is spread out due to COVID-19 restrictions, specializes in the many beloved menu items in Puerto Rico: monfongo, roast pork, seafood, empanadilla and more.

Owner Emelinda Garcia, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, has 19 years of catering and wedding cake experience behind her. The family moved here three years ago after visiting a nephew, who lives in Ashtabula.

“We came here four years ago for my 28th wedding anniversary,” Garcia said. “My nephew took us to see the lift bridge go up and down and I saw something — I said to my husband, “I think this is going to be our next place to live. I feel God wants this place to be next.”

Her husband didn’t believe it, but a year later — and just a week before Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017 — the Garcias moved to Ashtabula. In addition to feeling God called them to Ashtabula, they found better medical care was available nearby.  

Garcia said it’s always been her dream to open her own restaurant with her family.

“This is a family restaurant; we all work together,” Garcia said. “Family is very important to us.”

El Turpial is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. They are closed on Tuesday. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and takeout service is also available. The highest priced item on the menu, mofongo, cost $18.

For more information or order takeout, call 440-536-0712.

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