Ready to explore the Caribbean? After all that 2020 has brought our way, who isn’t?!? While your passport may be collecting dust, your taste buds can be on island time thanks to Mi Roti, a new San Antonio hot spot delivering the flavors of the West Indies and the Caribbean.
Mi Roti is the latest restaurant to join the Bottling Department, the Pearl’s popular food hall that offers delicious options for Pearl visitors by creating spaces for local chefs to grow their offerings. Mi Roti is the second restaurant from Chef Nicola Blaque, the force behind The Jerk Shack. And that means your taste buds are definitely in for a treat.
The Jerk Shack was featured by Eater.com as one of the Top 16 New Restaurants in America, confirming what devoted San Antonio foodies already knew. GQ Magazine also named it as one of its top new restaurants earlier this year. That sets a high bar for Mi Roti, but one dive into a Mi Roti bowl and there’s no doubt that you’re eating award-worthy fare.
If you’re not familiar with it, roti is a round flatbread found throughout the Caribbean, as well as a popular street food where the roti is folded around a savory filling to form a wrap. At Mi Roti, it’s also available as a side for the restaurant’s bowls. But be warned: like all good, tasty, comforting carbs, roti are addictive.
Mi Roti’s menu is designed so you can customize your flavors, choosing between a roti wrap or a bowl (with optional roti on the side). Then the fun begins as you “build your own” to include a choice of a protein, rice, and an array of toppings. Of course, that’s also where the challenge begins because narrowing down your options is not easy when you see the array that’s offered.
On the protein front, current options include jerk chicken, butter chicken, grilled chicken, pepper shrimp, grilled steak and stewed chicken. The proteins will update and rotate, so don’t be surprised to see goat, lamb, tikka masala or the latest addition, pineapple glazed pork belly, when you visit. Vegetarian options include curry chickpeas with potatoes or spicy, creamy, coconut spinach – which is probably the best description I’ve ever heard for a spinach option.
The challenge continues when it comes to choosing your rice: coconut, cilantro lime or brown. A tasty challenge to tackle? Imagining how the different combinations will create entirely new flavors for you to enjoy. Imagine the pork belly with coconut rice, or the jerk chicken with cilantro lime. And that’s before you get to the toppings.
Back to the building option, it basically means that each aspect of the menu adds layers of flavor. The toppings aren’t typical: roasted Brussels sprouts, crispy shallots, pickled red onion, shredded carrots, jalapeno slices and more. Each bowl or wrap includes five toppings, making the combinations endless. And each is freshly cooked or sliced – and when they’re piled on your bowl or wrap, the color array makes them instantly Instagrammable.
Now, the sauces – and don’t be a Meg Ryan and order your sauce on the side. First, it’s not an option and second, why would you want to miss out on this goodness? Mango chutney for a bit of sweet, hot pepper needs no description, or chimichurri, garlic and avocado cream. You can opt for two sauces, once again expanding the flavor range you can enjoy.
What goes with the perfect bowl or wrap? Whether you choose masala fries or red beans, you can’t go wrong. The beans offer a nice, well spiced bite. And the fries? Once you taste them, you’ll want to hoard them. They’re addictive and thankfully also offered as an extras item so you can consider sharing. Though really? We’re in a pandemic. No one will wonder why you’re hoarding the fries, #2020, and hoard without shame.
Mi Roti offers dessert options that share flavors of the Caribbean as well, with a coconut cornbread pudding and a Caribbean cream caramel that both offer sweet endings to your meal. You’ll also find kids meals, making it simple to turn a visit into a family affair.
While a visit to Mi Roti offers a flavor getaway, the reality of our current pandemic situation does mean a few changes to your Bottling Hall experience. The Pearl has instituted safety protocols that include removing the indoor seating from the Bottling Hall and requiring everyone to wear masks inside the building. Outdoor seating is socially distanced as well and, of course, everything is available to go. So, get out and get away and support local. And when Mi Roti starts getting national attention, you’ll be able to say you discovered it first.
Cover photo courtesy Mi Roti
An award-winning writer and communications expert who runs Tale to Tell Communications, Dawn Robinette loves to tell stories about her adopted hometown of San Antonio. Read more of her work at Alamo City Moms, San Antonio Woman and Rio Magazine.