Try Our Amazing Puerto Rican Food:
There are plenty of options for food in Puerto Rico to satisfy even the fussiest eaters. If you want to stick to what you know, you will find McDonalds, KFC, Wendy’s, Burger King etc. (all around the island), as well as some non-fast food chains like Ponderosa or Cheesecake Factory.
But, when you visit Luquillo, do not miss out on the wonderful local cuisine!
Puerto Rican food is rooted in Spanish, African and native Indian traditions and has emerged as a unique blend of spices and flavors that the locals call Cocina Criolla or Créole cooking.
Root vegetables, such as Batata (sweet potatoes), Arrowroot, Taro, Yam, and Cassava are starchy staples of Puerto Rican cuisine. Green plantains, green bananas, and Breadfruit are also very common and used in many of Puerto Rico’s most popular dishes.
Coconut and coconut milk are cooking staples for desserts and much of local cooking – which is excellent news for those visitors that cannot tolerate milk or lactose. You can enjoy wonderful local ice cream without guilt or worry.
Many delicious fruits, vegetables, and spices are used in traditional cooking to create unique flavors and they vary greatly from restaurant to restaurant, depending on the chef’s tradition and creativity.
Some Puerto Rican dishes that you will find in nearly all local restaurants include:
- Mofongo – a Puerto Rican dish with roots in African tradition. Mofongo is a signature local dish that can be found in just about every local restaurant – if it is not on the menu, ask for it, it is likely still available. It is an absolute must-try for first time visitors! Essentially, Mofongo, is a mound of mashed (baked and refried) plantains, topped with meat, chicken, or seafood and choice of sauces. It can be served as a side dish or as a main course.
- Stews – stews are very common in Puerto Rico and are usually cooked over a long period of time in a heavy pot (caldero). One of the most popular ones is Puerto Rican Beef Stew (Carne Guisada) but you can find stews with just about any meat. If you are feeling adventurous, try a rabbit stew available in local establishments – you won’t be disappointed!
- Rice dishes – Puerto Ricans use lots of rice in their cooking. Rice with beans is very popular side dish and it comes in many different varieties: rice and pigeon pees, rice with pink beans, rice with black beans, etc. The beans can be in a form of a topping for the rice or mixed in with the rice, vegetables and spices. Chicken and Rice is a very popular dish, as is coconut rice with fish.
- Arepas – in Puerto Rico, Arepas are a type of a flatbread patties, usually fried (think elephant ears), and served as appetizers or stuffed (like a sandwich). They are typically made out of cornmeal or flour and are usually savory. However, coconut Arepas are lightly sweet, delicious, and unique. Try an Arepa as an appetizer or as a “sandwich” stuffed with pulled pork or octopus salad – YUM!
- Empanadilla – usually served as an appetizer, Empanadillas are fried (or baked), crescent-shaped turnovers filled with a variety of meat or seafood, like lobster, crab, shark, conch, chicken or beef. They can be found in restaurants or through street vendors.
- Tostones –green plantain slices, mashed flat and fried. These are a local, popular alternative to french fries and are available in every restaurant as a side dish. They are usually served with Mayo-Ketchup – local favorite mix of mayonnaise and ketchup blended together.
- Amarillos – aka ripe plantains, these are fried sweet plantains, Amarillos are another popular side dish in Puerto Rico. If you have never had one, you should. They are unique and delicious. When perfectly prepared they are crispy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside.
- Flan – a traditional dessert in Puerto Rico, Flan is a custard with caramel on top. It is most commonly made with coconut milk (leche de coco) and has a spongy-like consistency. It is a very common dessert on the island and available everywhere.
Popular from street vendors (kiosks):
- Pinchos – Pinchos are a Puerto Rican version of kebab, or meat on a stick. They are wildly popular on the island and sold by street vendors everywhere. They can be marinated chicken, beef, pork and sometimes shrimp and are often served with a sauce concocted by the cook, a small piece of local bread toast, or a tostone. Pinchos bought at a street vendor are cheap and provide a uniquely-delicious Puerto Rican experience.
- Coconut ice cream – don’t miss out! Try coconut-based ice creams sold by the many beach vendors! It is delicious and typically comes in pineapple, coconut, and passionfruit flavors. Each vendor, however, has its own specialty, so you can also find strawberry, chocolate, and more. This ice cream is usually hand-made and far better than anything you can find at a grocery store.
So, explore our local flavors and enjoy your stay!