It was a beautiful weekend in Northeast Florida so my buddy, Tom, and I decided to find a place to eat outside at. He felt like taking a quick trip to down to Saint Augustine for this dinner, coincidentally his vehicle just so happened to be in the shop. Nevertheless, we peruse some menus and I drive us to a place called Mango Mango's.
A cozy little family restaurant located a block from Saint Augustine Beach that gives that feel good, relaxing weekend vibe, Mango Mango's brings the Caribbean to the shores of north Florida offering a variety of sandwiches, burgers, salads and island favorites.
The first step in relaxing is finding the right drink to fit the weekend. At Mango Mango's they have a nice variety of everything from soda to flavored teas. But being a tropically themed place they also offer "Island Oasis" drinks, a frozen concoction with various tropical fruit flavors that can be made for a kid or an adult. They also have a nice variety of wine by the glass, half bottle and bottle. Unfortunately, they do not carry San Sebastian Winery wines which are made within ten miles of the restaurant. However, they do have A Street Amber Ale, a beer brewed specially for them by Florida Beer Company, a beer light enough to have a couple while enjoying some fun in the sun and yet full bodied enough to satisfy a dark beer drinker. The kicker, $3.25 a pint.
|A Street Amber Ale, so named for the cross street Mango Mango's resides on|
Coconut Crunchy Shrimp, mango colada sauce, $10.
Tom got this just because he likes shrimp that have been coated with something, even better if that something has a sweet flavor and is plunged into scorching hot fat. Little did he know he was going to be getting six huge butterflied shrimp, dredged in a coconut batter, fried to GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious) perfection and served with an awesome mango and coconut cream sauce. So awesome, he saved it in hopes of it being good on anything he decided to dunk in it later.
Mango Mango's Famous Corn Cakes, avocado, salsa verde, Santa Fe sauce, $9.
I did not really now what to expect when ordering this, corn cakes can be prepared in so many variations just between Florida and the Caribbean alone. I was truly drawn to this by the description more than the main component. Mango Mango's preparation happened to be two huge Johnny Cake style fritters loaded with fresh pico de gallo, sour cream, Monterrey Jack cheese, a very unique and well made salsa verde, fresh avocado and a spicy Santa Fe sauce. The Santa Fe sauce, when mixed with the sour cream, is what brings this whole dish together, bringing the spicy and creamy together with the sweetness from the corn cake made for a wonderful starter. My only complaint, it was not very hot when brought to the table.
Hawaiian Chicken Sandwich, Hawaiian bread, provolone cheese, honey ham, grilled pineapple, $10.
A simple yet exotic sandwich. The chicken is grilled and basted with pineapple, papaya, and mango juices, then it is all assembled and pressed. For what is basically a Caribbean style chicken cordon bleu panini, it misses the mark with poor execution. Though the flavors of the sandwich were very nice and worked well together, the bottom of the it was soggy which can only mean one of two things happened: 1) they prepared it to early and let it sit in the window long enough to let the pineapple and chicken seep juices onto the plate only to get soaked up by the bread or 2) they used canned pineapple which is notorious for never really drying out. Almost every entree on the menu is served with your choice of side item from fries to side salad. Tom ordered the fried plantains, a simple side dish that is hard to mess up, luckily they were golden and piping hot. This is also where Tom found a something else that goes great with the aforementioned mango colada sauce.
The Ultimate Island Burger!, brown sugar Caribbean rub, apricot honey mustard, beer battered onion ring, seasoned bacon, pepper Jack cheese, $9.
As you can see from the description, this burger obviously has some other influences on it. Apricots are not a Caribbean crop. Beer battered onion rings, bacon, even mustard really give no reference to the islands. Until you realize there was heavy colonization of the islands by many different nationalities, and colonization can easily leave its mark on the cuisine of a region. This burger was a representation of just that. It was moist, the onion ring and bacon crisp, the mustard sweet and spicy, and all perfectly seasoned. When all the these ingredients were brought together, I am pretty sure I heard the bread sing with joy for being able to house such a palate pleaser. My side dish was Mango's slaw, a fresh coleslaw with oranges, pineapple and papaya, not a bad dish. The set back was it was tossed in a mayonnaise based dressing, which when mixed with all the fruits, became a wet bowl of coleslaw.
So the next time you go for a day out at the beach, instead of going through the pains of lugging coolers and grills, eating sandy food, and worrying about disposing of all your trash properly, look into the local places that are in the are. Not only are the decisions of who should bring this and who forgot that gone; You just might find your own Mango Mango's.