Before embarking on a Puerto Rico vacation getaway, why not take a crash course in some of the culinary delights that await you at your destination. Chances are, if you live somewhere with a lack of authentic Puerto Rican restaurants, you won’t be too familiar with the staples of Puerto Rican cuisine (and, given the fact that many restaurants in Puerto Rican tourist zones cater to western palates, you could easily go your whole trip without encountering the real deal). Don’t miss the opportunity to try some new things (and ideally wash them down with a more familiar Puerto Rican staple, the Piña Colada). Here are some menu items to look out for on your trip.
At its most basic, Mofongo is mashed, fried plantains flavored with pork skin. As a meal, however, the dish is often amplified with a wide array of filling options like steak, vegetables, or seafood. Just as plantains are a staple ingredient in the Puerto Rican diet, Mofongo is a signature dish on the island.
Arroz con Gandules
Flavorfully seasoned rice and peas, usually served as a side with a heaping pile of slow cooked meat (like lechon, listed below).
A thick chicken and rice soup with recipes that will vary depending on the chef (or Puerto Rican grandmother) making it for you. One constant: sofrito, a seasoned tomato sauce used in many Puerto Rican dishes, including Arroz con Gandules.
A whole fried fish! While some may be turned off by the sight of the entire fish looking at them from the plate (not to mention picking around the bones), let us join your hypothetical server in telling you the flavor makes the labor (and the staredown) totally worth it.
A ceremonious dish of slow-roasted suckling pig, cooked till fall-off the-bone tender and usually served with a side of fried plantains and the aforementioned Arroz con Gandules.
A refreshing way to end a meal, order this light, cinnamon-topped coconut custard if you see it on the menu.