Boca Bistro Will Make Your Mouth Happy

Saratoga Springs isn't a big city, but the restaurant choices can be dizzying. Will you have succulent, satisfyingly crunchy fried chicken at Hattie's? Maybe the freshest artichokes on a simple but devastating pizza at Forno Bistro? Or perhaps a light tuna tartare and a trendy cocktail at Max London's, or even a pungently garlicky falafel pita from a basement cafe on a side street?

If you're cruising Broadway, Saratoga's main drag, Boca Bistro is a welcoming sight, with its yellow metal piggy right outside to greet you. Inside, this Spanish-themed cafe lit with Edison bulbs makes a trendy and tasty place for lunch, though the dinner menu has a seductive array of paellas and tapas I'd like to try on a second visit.

When I read on the menu that Boca's Cuban was made with pork shoulder and serano rather than sliced pork loin and plain old boiled ham, I was sold. A typical Cuban sandwich is out of balance, for me: low on pork flavor and too sour, with the yellow mustard plus the Swiss cheese and commercial dill pickles. This one brought pork fat to the party, along with housemade garlic pickles, a Dijon-flavored mayo, and a very small amount of milder, creamier cheese. It was robust, perfectly salty, with savory, slightly sweet ham, lightly crisp pickles and gooey, melted white cheese. The menu called the bread upon which it was built ciabatta, but it was lighter in texture than any ciabatta I've ever had.

A side of patatas bravas, or fried potatoes, were heavy on the sweet paprika, showered with fresh parsley, and graced with a dollop of light, fluffy garlic aoli. Less oily and dense than store-bought mayonnaise, this condiment was so well suited to the earthy, spiced potatoes, it made me second guess ever having ingested ketchup.

On a house made, house smoked pastrami sandwich, a crunchy slaw and a tighter Spanish cheese (with pull like mozzarella, but more flavorful) accompanied more pickles and tender, juicy, peppery meat. It was really exceptional on griddled bread, with a small dish of spicy aoli served on the side to slather on, if you so chose.

We didn't sample enough of the menu to fully evaluate Boca Bistro, but I did eat enough to to tell you that this is a good spot to stop for sandwiches hovering somewhere above your typical deli selections. Our waiter was flaky, but our cocktails were legit, and we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch there.

Boca Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

This Thursday, I'm returning to judge the Broome County Legislature's Honey Throwdown. My fellow judges Kristen, Sue, and I will taste dishes made by area youth groups made with local honey and pick our favorites. It's my fourth time judging the Throwdown, which teaches kids about the importance of knowing where their food comes from. So stay tuned for next week's blog post, where I'll share photos and results of the event, plus hopefully a recipe or two. If you follow the Big Hungry Shelby group on Facebook, you can check out the dishes as I see them on Thursday afternoon! My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

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