I swear, everyday I get closer and closer to thinking Latin food really is the best food EVER. Until I remember I’m also obsessed with Thai, Italian, Vietnamese, Sushi, Spanish, French…..BAH okay I know, I’m a food whore who has no business picking favorites. But seriously, I LOVE Latin food. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with my love for pork and anything crunchy and/or spicy (or that I am in fact half Latina myself) but my recent trip to Puerto Rico this past weekend was filled with all of that and more. Needless to say it was pretty awesome (and delicious!)
Because Thursday night was filled with more drinking than eating, I’ll skip ahead, starting with breakfast on Friday…which actually turned into lunch because it was 10:30am and apparently breakfast time was ova. Per our hotels recommendation, we headed to La Bombonera in Old San Juan, an adorable neighborhood diner-style place filled with locals. Like everyone else, we grabbed a seat at the bar.
Although Lonely Planet assured me that Puerto Rico is becoming more and more vegetarian friendly, I wasn’t that shocked when my boyfriend discovered he’d be eating Mofongo for breakfast (the only non-meat dish on the menu… and no this would not be the first and only time). It’s essentially a mountain of fried plantains, as you can see pictured above on top of a salad.
I’m so glad I’m not a vegetarian because I got to order the chicken milanese. Which was pretty much a breaded and fried chicken cutlet, that was then drenched in melted cheese.
It was pretty heavy, and I’ll admit I didn’t finish it, but it was so good!
Later we hit up Fort San Cristobal for some sight seeing/history…
Followed by the beach….
followed by dinner at Cafe La Princessa in Old San Juan. It was located on Paseo la Princessa, a romantic, lantern lit walkway right by the water. The night we went, the street was filled with Christmas Markets of local artists selling their work for gifts. The restaurant itself was removed from the busy street, hidden in a garden terrace.
This time there were a few vegetarian options, so we decided to split an appetizer while looking over all the delicious entrees.
The appetizer we got had an assortment of “pinchos,” which included a bunch of deep-fried small bites. They were mostly potato, cheese, and some veggies and came with sauces for dipping. The darker sauce was more of a sweet & sour type, the pink one was definitely ketchup and mayo, the national sauce of Puerto Rico. It isn’t really, but it should be, everyone there is obsessed with it.
For dinner Dol went with the vegetable fettuccine.
I went for the steak with rioja wine sauce and veggies. It was cooked perfectly!
Although I’m sure you can find Mofongo and fried chicken anywhere, the Cafe La Princessa is definitely worth checking out. Especially if you’re looking for a romantic dinner or just looking to impress some friends with some really good food!
Later on during the trip we decided to travel out to Vieques, an Island off the Eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Vieques itself is about 21 miles long and 4 miles wide, and is home to some of the Caribbean’s best beaches. It also used to be a military base, along with neighboring Island Culebra, where you can still find some of the old tanks scattered throughout the water and along some of the beaches. It’s ALSO home to one of the worlds best Bio Bays.
Having been to Puerto Rico a handful of times when I was younger, this was the first time I ever visited one of these Bioluminescent Bays, and it was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen in my life. Never heard of a Bio Bay? Well it’s essentially a body of water that has just the right environmental qualities to house this unique micro-organism that gives off light when it is touched. There are only a few bays in the world that are known to have these micro-organisms, and Puerto Rico has THREE of them!
We went on a night time kayaking tour to one of these bays, and the water basically begins to glow all around you whenever you move it, whether it’s with your boat, oar, or body. Unfortunately the lighting in a mangrove lagoon is terrible at night for trying to get great photo’s of this crazy phenomenon, but you can find ton’s of images of what it looks like here. Sorry for the random tangent but it was literally the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I advise everyone to go see one of these ASAP!
But anyways, back to food! While on Vieques we decided to rent bikes as we thought it might be easier to get around the Island and check out some of its more isolated beaches. The woman at the bike rental recommended we stop at Sol Food for lunch seeing as we’d be passing it on our way to the shore anyways. We decided to go with her word, and thank God we did because after biking up what seemed like tons of never-ending hills we finally made it and we were starving.
As soon as I saw slow cooked pulled pork with psychedelic purple cole slaw, I was sold.
Easily the best thing I ate the whole trip. The pork was cooked perfectly, the cole slaw amazing. The sandwich had a zing to it, and the bread had just a bit of sweetness. I loved it!
Dol had a tougher time deciding what to order, seeing as he was floored when he saw how many vegetarian options they had. Who would have thought a random food truck in the middle of a tiny island has the best vegetarian and vegan options in all of Puerto Rico? Eventually he went for the Kung Fu Tofu which had a combination of veggies and tofu marinated in a sesame vinaigrette and wrapped in a spinach tortilla.
We were floored by how good everything was, but apparently we weren’t the only ones. As we sat enjoying our food, at least three other groups of people stopped by the food truck, making it obvious they had been there before. All were talking about how it was the best food they had had their entire vacation, and that they couldn’t resist coming back. I also happened to try one of the homemade granola bars and lemonades which were both ridiculously good.
Before the end of our trip we made a detour to the rainforest, climbing up to Mt. Bitton Tower, one of the highest points in El Yunque…
Which might I add had one eatery on the premises, where you could get some small bites and snacks, and they also had a phenomenal vegetarian menu, which included one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had! Yuquiyú Delights FTW!!
Overall the trip was unreal. I don’t think I can could come up with any blog post to do it justice. From biking in Vieques, hiking through El Yunque, strolling down Paseo La Princessa, snorkeling through coral reefs, kayaking in bio bays, and stuffing face with lots of pork (too much to recap all of it), this was the perfect mini vacay to pull me out of my cold reality that is winter in New England. And it was SO cheap. I’m not even going to start posting all my travel tricks because it’ll be a week before I get this done but please feel free to get in touch if you are debating a vacation this winter and are tight on cash and time, I have TONS to tell you 🙂