A typical Puerto Rican meal: pork chops (chuletas), rice & beans (arroz y habichuelas), a bottle of sofrito and some token greens to appease the tourists
Authentic Puerto Rican food (comida criolla) can be summed up in two words: plantains and pork, usually served up with rice and beans (arroz y habichuelas). It is rarely if ever spicy, and to many visitors' surprise has very little in common with Mexican cooking.
Plantains (plátanos) are essentially savory bananas and the primary source of starch back in the bad old days, although you will occasionally also encounter cassava (yuca) and other tropical tubers. Served with nearly every meal, incarnations include:
mofongo - plantains mashed, fried, and mashed again, when filled up (relleno) with seafood this is probably the best-known Puerto Rican dish of them all
tostones - twice deep-fried plantain chips, best when freshly made
sopa de plátanos - mashed plantain soup
The main meat eaten on Puerto Rico is pork (cerdo), with chicken a close second and beef and mutton way down the list. Seafood, surprisingly, is only a minor part of the traditional repertoire: the deep waters around Puerto Rico are poorly suited to fishing, and most of the seafood served in restaurants for tourists is in fact imported. Still, fresh local fish can be found in restaurants across the east and west coast of the island, especially in Naguabo or Cabo Rojo respectively.
chicharrones - crispy dry pork rinds, Puerto Rico's favorite snack
chuletas - huge, juicy pork chops, available grilled or deep fried.
lechón asado - roast suckling pig, this is the pinnacle of Puerto Rican porkcraft. Served at specialty restaurants, with the town of Guavate off the San Juan-Ponce highway being particularly famous.
morcilla - blood sausage
pernil de cerdo - pork shoulder with oregano and garlic
A few other puertorriqueño classics include:
arroz con gandules - rice with pigeon peas, the unofficial national dish of Puerto Rico
arroz con jueyes - rice with land crab meat
asopao - a spicy tomato stew with rice and chicken or seafood
bacalaitos ? salted cod fritters
chillo - red snapper, the most common fresh fish on the island
empanadillas ? fritters of cheese, meat or lobster
sofrito - a fragrant sauce of sweet pepper, herbs, garlic and oil, used as base and seasoning for many dishes
quenepas - a green grape-like fruit common in summer, don't eat the skin or seeds (and watch where you put them, they stain clothes easily)
The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Puerto Rico
Where To Stay & Best Hotels in Puerto Rico - updated Oct 2020
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