Puerto Rico has a strong, mixed culture that transcends historical and cultural sights and permeates into the daily life, including one of its most important aspects – the culinary scene.
Since there’s such a rich mixture of African, Indigenous and Spanish flavors in Puerto Rican cuisine, the ultimate dining experience in Puerto Rico cannot be described with just one or two restaurants. What follows is a curated list of some of the best eateries on the island, tapping on a variety of flavors and styles.
This is the "king" of cult food trucks in Puerto Rico. At the moment, it has five locations, but its most famous one is the one located in Isla Verde. The menu is basic: Sandwiches and wraps. But, this is no ordinary sandwich, this is a Tripleta. You can order it with chicken, beef, or mixta (mixed) in a soft, sweet French-styled bread, topped with mayonnaise, ketchup, and fried chips. This is the most delicious Tripleta in Puerto Rico!
Located in Cayey, about 45 minutes to an hour away from San Juan, El Cuñao is considered one of the best places on the island to eat the traditional lechón, or roast pork, with its crispy skin and moist meat. Also worth trying there is the morcilla, or blood sausage, which is often paired with the lechón. And if good food wasn’t enough, El Cuñao offers some excellent views of the mountainous scenery of the island.
This is the place where you truly experience Puerto Rico like a local. Located in Guavate –the go-to place for the best lechón on the island, fondly named "Pork Highway"– El Rancho Original offers a complete menu of traditional Puerto Rican food, with a rustic mountainous scene to complement the local-feel environment. It is also located about 45 minutes away from San Juan, but trust me, the drive is worth it. El Rancho has also been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods.
This European-style bakery is probably the place where you’ll taste the best French baguettes in Puerto Rico. Beyond that, its owner and chef, Jesus Fernández, makes some of the most delicious artisanal pastries, coffee, and pizza.
Unlike the previous recommendations, Piñones is not a restaurant, but a region. Like Guavate, Piñones has a series of local eateries full of traditional foods, but unlike Guavate, the main dishes here are fritters and the delicious mofongo – a plantain dish filled with chicken, beef, shrimp and other mouth-watering stuffings. Choose any spot that looks good to you as most of them are excellent, but wherever you go, don’t miss eating the mofongo, as well as some alcapurrias, bacalaitos, and pastelillos, among many other dishes.
Located in what used to be a run-down handy store, Santaella brought life to the original architecture of the small building with a sort-of industrial look, including an indoor tropical garden that makes the space feel more welcoming. Santaella’s menu is based on locally sourced, organic ingredients from the local marketplace, and blended into astonishing dished by the hands of Chef José Santaella. With no doubt, Santaella offers some of the best tapas on the island, including baby octopus casserole with chorizo and chickpeas, and the fried Nutella dessert. Don’t miss their house drink –Sandia Mojito– a cocktail made with watermelon, rum, mint and fresh lime juice.
Winner of Trip Advisor’s 2013 Traveller’s Choice Award and mentioned in some of the most respected culinary publications, Pikayo is an elegant choice to experience the gourmet side of Puerto Rican food. The restaurant triumphs in mixing sweet with salty dishes, which is one of the aspects that makes Puerto Rican cuisine so delicious. Dishes like coconut milk polenta, corned beef brisket stew, Foie gras-topped plantains, and petit pork belly hamburgers with Gouda cheese, are some of the things offered to create a balance of sweet and salty tastes in this fine-dining experience.
There are many more restaurants showing more of what Puerto Rico has to offer, but these seven options will give you an excellent overview of the flavors and blends that make Puerto Rican food so special.
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
Your bag when backpacking is heavy enough. Here's how travel insurance can help take some weight off your shoulders.
Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
Travel smarter with travel insurance from RoamRight. Get your free, no-obligation quote online today.
View all Blog Authors
View Countries with Blogs
Sign up for RoamRight's FREE monthly email newsletter to get travel tips, tricks, news, ideas, and inspiration!
The RoamRight mark is used by Arch Insurance Company and owned by its parent company, Arch Capital Group (U.S.). All insurance products are offered and underwritten by Arch Insurance Company. The term "Partner", as used on this website refers to any unaffiliated third party entity that may offer or disseminate Arch RoamRight travel insurance. The term has no legal meaning whatsoever and Arch RoamRight hereby disclaims any such legal meaning that may be ascribed to it. Click here for privacy notice.
Copyright© 2021 Arch Insurance Company. All rights reserved.