Monday, Oct 22, 2018
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Plates & People

Yucca it up at Carlos' Poco Loco

Exotic Latin American treat more familiar than you think

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    Karel Gonzalez, a part-owner at Carlos Poco Loco, with their two yucca dishes.

    The Blade/Andy Morrison
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    The fried yucca with cilantro sauce in the foreground at Carlos Poco Loco, the boiled yucca with garlic, butter and pickled red onions in the back.

    The Blade/Andy Morrison
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    Carlos Poco Loco in UpTown.

    The Blade/Andy Morrison
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It’s kind of a fun word to say and to write. Yucca.

Pronounced “you • kah,” it is a tuberous root native to South America. As exotic as that may feel, the yucca is basically just a marvelous potato served either boiled (mojo) or fried. It is prominently eaten in all of Latin America but notably in tropical countries and especially Cuba.

Cuban born Karel Gonzalez knew he would feature both the fried and boiled versions of yucca as soon as he knew be opening Carlos Poco Loco with local Mexican cuisine restaurateur Carlos Mendez.

Now, before you skip right to fried yucca — which is delicious and worthy of your time with a wonderful cilantro dipping sauce — try the boiled style, Yucca Mojo.

Atmospheric with garlic and butter, topped with garish pink pickled red onions, it is an intoxicating, ambush of flavor that pairs fantastic with any of the Mexican-Cuban offerings at Poco. The popular UpTown restaurant is the only Cuban-halved member of the Cocina de Carlos family of restaurants, and the only place to serve the yucca.

“I grew up eating this,” said Gonzalez. (His favorite is the fried version.)

VIDEO: Yucca at Carlos Poco Loco an exotic, yet familiar flavor

“When I would come into the kitchen and I would see the pot boiling, I knew it was going to be a good day.”

After living in Miami after coming from Cuba, the transition to Toledo in 2011 at first left with him cold from a language, weather, and food barrier.

Today, his smile is as bright as the festive and bustling bar in Poco. Serving yucca and other Cuban fare has warmed patrons to the flare and him to the region... and he was happy to be on camera for us, his English comfortable and conversant while detailing the two traditional preparations of the yucca.

For more information, visit Carlos Poco Loco.

Contact Phillip Kaplan at, and follow on Twitter @filkap; Andy Morrison may be contacted at


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