Waffle-era Tea Room, old San Juan – Breakfast
Before we headed out for our Puerto Rico trip we did a little bit research on reviews of Puerto Rican food. Most of the travel journal written by Chinese mentioned that the food there was delightful in a way appealing to Asian stomach. I couldn’t picture what taste or flavor in my head. Then the first breakfast place pleasantly surprised us with its toothsome waffle dishes, not the traditional American syrup with berries type, but unusual combinations such as pesto chicken waffle topped with cherry tomatoes, or so called Pollo Al Pesto.
Above picture is their appetizer, Salmon Laced Pepper, hand-torched sweet peppers stuffed with goat cheese wrapped with smoke salmon. It is also probably the most top review breakfast place in old San Juan, Puerto Rico on Yelp and TripAdvisor. (Yelp 3.9, TripAdvisor 4.5.)
La Cueva del Mar, old San Juan – Dinner
Fried Mahi Mahi Bites and La Cueva – seafood rice with plantains are two dishes we ordered officially marked the start of our exotic food excursion. The crispy Mahi Mahi bites were with the most tender and juicy inside awoke our taste buds within just a few seconds. La Cueva is a seafood rice dish looks very like Paella, with shrimp, mussels, clams, calamari accompanied with fried plantains. We never had plantains before, was confused a little bit why these banana didn’t have any flavor besides the starchy taste and later we realized it is one kind of cooking banana.
Octopus Salad – this place also has the best in town octopus salad, mixed with jalapeno pepper, parsley and cured with vinegar, was simple but refreshing with a pleasantly chewy texture.
Mofongo, the most ubiquitous dish in Puerto Rico, Culera Island – Lunch
I finally ordered Mofongo after I survived from the snorkeling tour on Culebra Island. Mashed fried plantain stuffed with garlic shrimp. There are also Mofongo stuffed with chicken or steak. The one on Culebra was certainly not the best. El Jibarito in San Juan was highly recommended for authentic mofongo.
Krusty Krab, Culebra Island – Dinner
Tiny food truck restaurant with a spot on top of mountain and a view of astonishing sunset. Food was 3.5 on a scale of 1-5 honestly but who says the excitement of food experience was only the food itself?
Conch Salad, a mixture of finely diced conch, tomatoes and onions. Simple ingredients to bring you the flavor of the sea.
Bananas, Vieques Island – Dinner
Deep Fried Whole Red Snapper. Here comes another one of my favorite fish dish in Puerto Rico. Served with side of the Puerto Rican rice and beans, this main dish was comforting to relieve the 18 months homesickness not being able to go back China for whole fish. Although deep frying was certainly not a popular cooking method for fish in my hometown, sharing a whole fish with friends was absolutely a nostalgic way of celebrating the coming of the new year in a wish of good fortune, as fish represents abundance and surplus in Chinese pronunciation.
Cositas Ricas, Vieques Island – Snack
This food truck place had the best garlic shrimp skewer I’ve ever had. The seasoning and garnish made this place a bomb. Especially after walking on foot for 15 minutes from Sun Bay to Esperanza, it was like finding an oasis in a middle of a desert type of pleasure getting tender skewers.
Other dining place worth mentioning:
EL Asador, old San Juan – Dinner, private and semi-outdoor dining
Another dinner place we visited for the very last night in San Juan. Food was mediocre, some Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews gave 1 star for slow service and over price. I ordered Mushroom Risotto according to the recommendation on Yelp and that came out not bad. The outdoor dining open to the arcade provided quiet and cozy atmosphere for small groups if you want to avoid large crowds of tourists.
Subway, Vieques Island – best ocean view Subway restaurant
This subway located adjacent to the Wave hotel has a decent dining deck with wide open views towards the ocean. If you decided to stay in this hotel which I highly recommend, don’t forget to wake up early and enjoy a cup of coffee and breakfast from this Subway, and some personal reading time.