Real Food Review :: Tropicaleo


Recently, I found myself running errands downtown with my mom (Gabi) and Biscuit around lunch time. Since it was a Monday, most of the local downtown restaurants were closed. After my usual Google search for places that can meet my dining requirements (gluten-free, organic, etc.), I remembered that the Pizitz Food Hall had recently opened. We decided to give it a try! After parking in the deck located on 18th Street North and First Avenue North we took the crosswalk over to the Food Hall. What a treat to explore the incredible variety of dining options! They have Ethiopian, Japanese, and Israeli cuisine alongside traditional Southern staples such as biscuits and chicken and waffles. Located just across the street from the McWane Center, this is not only an easy place to stop for lunch with the kids but also a great educational experience for children to learn about food from other cultures!

My mom and I enjoyed exploring the Food Hall, picking up menus from all the places to take home and study later. After a while, we decided to dine at Tropicaleo, a unique restaurant serving Puerto Rican cuisine made from local Alabama ingredients.  They have gluten-free, vegan, and paleo options prepared in an allergy-free kitchen.

We both ordered the Pollo a la Criolla Mofongo, a quintessential Puerto Rican dish with a base of cilantro rice and mashed plantains topped with pulled chicken. I was afraid the plantains might be too sweet, but instead I found them quite flavorful. The pulled chicken was delicious and well-seasoned. The dish is garnished with a delicious vegan sauce drizzled on top. My mom and I really enjoyed our food, and we look forward to our next visit!

While enjoying our tasty Pollo a la Criolla Mofongo, we were also able to meet the owners, Gabe and Isbel.  I really loved talking to them. Raising a daughter with food allergies prompted them to open a restaurant that could provide a place for those with food allergies to enjoy eating out!

Here are a few of their standards and information about their kitchen…

Their kitchen is soy-, nut-, and wheat-free.
They use coconut oil in their fryer.
They use no preservatives, additives, or artificial flavors.
They use locally-sourced ingredients.
They have color coded stations and equipment to be able to offer vegan options.

After their stint at the Reveal Kitchen, they will be moving to a permanent establishment in Avondale. I cannot wait to go back. On weekends at brunch, they offer a gluten-free and dairy-free desert called maicena, which just sounds delicious!

Note: Whenever dining out, make sure to let your server know of your allergies and ask any questions you may have about the menu.