While living in San Juan, Puerto Rico as an exchange student, I learned to surf, speak much better Spanish and befriend people while I was in an unfamiliar land. But the number one skill I picked up in PR (as you’ll see it abbreviated in many places), is how to find an amazing meal or snack with only a few dollars in my pocket at almost any time of day. Puerto Rico’s food, in general, is unforgettable, but I would venture to say that if you went to San Juan and you ONLY ate street food, you would come away having sampled some of the most famous and delicious offerings of the island.
If you don’t speak the language, approaching someone’s cart with an unknown menu and ordering can be really intimidating, especially if there’s a long line of people who know exactly what to order. I don’t want you to miss out on these flavors, so I’ve made you a quick list, with photos and a pronunciation guide, so you can spot the best delicacies and snap them up easily!
Listing certain locations for all of these treats isn’t possible, as street food locations are often carts or kiosks that move around. Just keep your eyes peeled and a little cash in your pocket as most spots either don’t take cards or require a minimum purchase to accept them. Fritura (fried treat) spots always pop up near bars, nightclubs and beaches to feed hungry revelers!
The Special Sauce in Puerto Rico
Before we begin, a hot tip about sauce (from a sauce addict):
If you’re new to PR, you may notice large squeezy bottles of a pinkish-orange sauce at most food stands and restaurants. So what on earth is it? It’s Mayo-Ketchup! Yes, that is just what it sounds like—a blend of mayonnaise and ketchup with garlic. Puerto Ricans love to put this on most fried things and even salad and you can buy it pre-made in the store or mix your own easily. Don’t be afraid to add a generous saucing of Mayo-Ketchup to most salty snacks you find on your Puerto Rican adventure.