San Juan Dining

San Juan Dining is my favorite section of this guide for obvious reasons. It’s the section that talks about food… and I’m all about food!

Let me start by giving you an overview of the local food in San Juan.

A Taste of San Juan

When I travel to a country (or city) for the first time, I make an effort to try the local food and to avoid going to chain restaurants that I can find back at home. In my opinion, this is what makes travelling so much interesting. It’s also another way of experiencing and getting to know the local culture.

Having said that, and in case you are like me, let’s take a look at the typical and traditional Puerto Rican food.

Typical Puerto Rican food is a blend of Spanish/European, African, Taíno (Amerindians), and American influences known as comida criolla. Main dishes are elaborated with grains, plantains, meats and poultry, seafood, vegetables, root vegetables, etc.

Common Puerto Rican dishes are:

  • the traditional arroz con habichuelas (rice and beans) with a meat (chicken, pork, turkey, beef, fish, etc.) and a side item like tostones (fried plantains) or salad
  • blend of arroz con pollo (rice and chicken) with a side item or two
  • arroz con gandules (yellow rice and pigeon peas) – traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dish with either turkey or roasted pork
  • biftec encebollado (steak smothered with onions)
  • sancocho (chicken or beef soup with tubers)
  • asopao (rice and chicken or rice and seafood stew/gumbo)
  • bacalaítos (codfish fritter)
  • pasteles – traditional Christmas dish similar to a Mexican tamale, but with plantain dough instead of corn, and chopped meat inside along with peppers, potatoes, olives, etc. This plantain “cake” is wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled. – It is delicious!
  • mofongo – fried plantain that is later mashed and seasoned with garlic and other spices. It is usually stuffed with beef, chicken or seafood and topped with a stewed sauce. – I must say this is my favorite!
  • alcapurrias – fried dough made out of tubers with ground beef , chicken or seafood inside.
  • arroz con dulce – rice pudding with variations in the ingredients of the recipe, like cinnamon, coconut milk, coconut cream, raisins soaked in rum, etc. Unique flavor!

Common Puerto Rican drinks are:

  • coquito – traditional Christmas coconut drink similar to eggnog but with different ingredients and a touch of rum. Mmmm!
  • piña colada – well, you know what that is. But in case you don’t, it is a popular cocktail drink that consists of pineapple juice, cream of coconut and a touch of rum. Many people don’t know this, but the piña colada drink originated in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

And speaking of rum, here is a list of popular Puerto Rican Rums to complement the famous coquito and piña colada:

  • Bacardí
  • Don Q
  • Palo Viejo
  • Ron Llave
  • Ron del Barrilito
  • Ron de Castillo
  • Ron Rico

These are some examples of the local food you could find in many San Juan restaurants that could make your San Juan dining experience unforgettable. (I’m one of those that remembers the great food!)

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