The Food in Puerto Rico
A few weeks ago, Funk and I took a Spring Break trip to Puerto Rico! It’s kind of funny to say we were even on Spring Break, being 8 years (yikes!) out of college, but Funk had break from MBA school, and I was on break at the same time from the college where I work.
We planned the trip not too long ago, which is unlike us. We really just wanted somewhere to go that wasn’t here, and Puerto Rico was a) easy to get to (no passport!) and b) easy to get to (direct 4 hour flight!). Needless to say, we had absolutely nothing planned when we arrived.
When we got to our hotel, we saw flyer for a food tour in Old San Juan. I’ve been on my fair share of food tours and have loved every single one. It’s a great way to learn about a city and it’s culture through your taste buds. I thought Funk would love the experience too, so we booked the tour for the day we arrived with a company called Flavors. We headed to meet with our group and our guide, Kris, and all 5 of them turned out to be so lovely, it felt like we were touring the city with friends.
While telling us all about Old San Juan, which is very clean and colorful and right on the water, Kris brought us to our first stop: a little restaurant that served us pina coladas and a plate of fried plantains with veggies for us. I’m usually not someone who goes for frozen cocktails, but this one hit the spot. Especially on an 80-something degree day. I’ve had fried plantains before, but these were ever so lightly fried (at least they tasted that way) and were just subtly sweet.
We made a stop at an underground tunnel restaurant called Rosa di Triana where we enjoyed mofongo, which is a fried plantain dish. We didn’t love ‘em, but I did enjoy the sangria! The restaurant used to be an old underground jail in the 1800s – creepy, but interesting. I find jails, like Alcatraz, so fascinating.
Off we went to Carli’s, which is actually owned by former Beach Boy keyboardist Carli Munoz. We stopped for a side dish of shrimp risotto (Funk is still talking about it) and the. best. mojito. we have ever had. Ever. Apparently the trick is good rum (helloooo Puerto Rico), brown sugar instead of simple syrup, and lots of it, and bunches of fresh mint, all muddled together.
If I ever need to be on a liquid diet, I’d like these mojitos to be my form of hydration. We liked these mojitos so much, and the bartender who made them, we went back with another couple from our tour when it was over for another round. Or two. Carli himself actually plays piano every night at the restaurant at 8pm, and we had the opportunity to hear and meet him. This is a “must go to eat/drink” spot in Old San Juan.
We finished the tour at The Poet’s Passage, an adorable café for a guava roll and cup of coffee. We learned all about the low acid coffee of Puerto Rico, and how the good quality PR coffee is not a blend of beans, which alters their flavor. This is the coffee that turns non-coffee-drinkers into fans. It had no burnt or bitter aftertaste and was so smooth and enjoyable to drink. The rest of the trip Funk and I kept saying we wanted to bring home a bag of coffee, but we never found any and came home empty handed. I do think PR coffee is the best I’ve ever had.
Aside from this tour, Funk and I had some fantastic dinners in Old San Juan. One of our favorites was a whimsical restaurant called Verde Mesa, which serves food with only local ingredients and specializes in vegan, vegetarian and seafood dishes, which is just our cup of tea.
We were in heaven with our three course dinner and drinks, which included ceviche, a fully loaded meal-salad, and dessert. Oh yeah, the dessert. Four words: Honey Lavender Ice Cream. Three more words: Best dessert ever. My sister once bought me lavender syrup and I NEED to recreate this ice cream.
Besides the food we spent most of our days lounging on our practically empty, turquoise water beach that was just steps from our hotel. We got lots of relaxation and sun – I know because my entire torso is still peeling.
What about you? Have you ever taken a food tour as a way to explore a new city? Give details! I’ve been known to plan a vacation solely around a restaurant I want to try.
(Me with a fresh coconut on the side of the road. I drank all the fresh coconut water then the bartender hacked it open with a machete and I ate some of the coconut meat. It was so heavy!)