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Monday, February 24, 2020

Best Places to Eat in Puerto Rico!

Oh my, Mallorca. 

Thinking about all the delicious food I ate while in Puerto Rico makes me want to hop on a plane to go back for seconds. 

I had a fantastically tasteful, solo trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico! Breaking from the New York City doom and gloom of the winter months by taking a tropical vacation to the Caribbean was just what my sun deprived skin, needed. I booked the trip on Christmas Day (ho ho ho) and jetted off in mid-February.

I decided to stay central in the charming city of Viejo, San Juan (old San Juan) to be able to walk outside and be right in the pulse of the city. Old San Juan has lots of restaurants and eclectic shops, is buzzing with block parties, and is a perfect place to stay if you want to travel around to different neighborhoods of Puerto Rico like upscale Condado, residential Santurce or to be transported to one of the beautiful surrounding islands like Culebra or Icacos. 

I was ready for nice weather and sparkeling clear, blue ocean waters, but was pleasantly surprised to fall in love with the Puerto Rican cuisine! Beef, chicken and crab empanadas, Mallorcas with ham and cheese, avocado stuffed with tender, well-seasoned beef, and soft breads – Mm! 

Iguana panini anyone? Hunting Iguanas is legal because there are so many of them in Puerto Rico and because they eat fruits and veggies in crops. During my tour of El Yunque rainforest, the guide said this meat gets sold in PR and also on the US mainland. The next time you order at a restaurant, make sure your beef or chicken is actually that! 

I’ll pass on any sort of Iguana sandwich, but not on any of the below. 

Make sure you head to these spots if you’re ever in Viejo, Puerto Rico!

La Bombonera 
If you like bread, meat and cheese – this is the place for you. Try a Mallorca. A Puerto Rican sweet-bread sprinkled with powdered sugar and often pressed into a warm, comforting sandwich. I had one with ham and swiss cheese and I’m still seeing it in my dreams. It tastes like, a croissant, brioche bread and potato bread mixed into one. The service was warm and friendly just like the vibe of the colorful city. 

El Jibarito
At this colorful spot, you’ll find tourists and locals enjoying all the Puerto Rican classics. One order of empanadas comes with five pieces and if you order the beans and rice you’re sure to be pleasantly stuffed. Pro tip: leftover empanadas make for an excellent breakfast the next day. I am still sad to this day that I didn’t get the tres leches cake but I heard it is fantastic. 

La Ó
If your scene is more trendy and conceptual, head to this chic spot for a cocktail and sip it in the outdoor garden. This place also has gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options. I went for a light pasta with olive oil and scallops (I’m not a big seafood person but wanted to try something out-of-the-box since I was on vacation). The meal wasn’t my favorite, but wanted to add it to this list to illustrate that OSJ offers a wide variety of food options. 

This place is rustic and cute but touristy. After all the fried dough and cheese, if you need a dang salad you can find one here if you manage not to order a pizza. I had a solid mixed green salad at this place along with a glass of crisp white wine. 

La Casita Blanca
This place, hands down, is my number one recommendation for Puertorican food on this list. 

La Casita Blanca is off the beaten path but is so worth the trip to Santurce (a more residential neighborhood in San Juan). You will be pleasantly greeted and walked to your table. Then very shortly after you will be presented with a big chalkboard with Spanish writing which has the menu of the day written on it. It’s all in Spanish with no English translation (so you know it’s real). 

Pro tip: use their Instagram to show what you want or google up a storm to make your decision. 

I speak poor Spanish that I remember from high school but the server was pleasant and patient and helped me toward my choice: Avocado stuffed with beef and red beans and rice. 

It was per-fec-tion. 

Before the main dish came out, they brought out a soup and a fried dish called Bacalaitos as an appetizer (at no charge) and once your finished with your meal, you get a shot of Chichaito (licorice flavored rum) to send you on your happy way. 

Lunch on a catamaran 
Because you’re on vacation and it will be great. Go to Culebra and thank me later. 


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