Get your bibs, napkins, and spit up cloths out folks, because you’re about to drool. We’re gonna make it rain…make it rain drool. Maybe not really. I’ll probably be the only one drooling over the chicken mofongo and beach beers. But regardless of your drooling propensity, today’s post is all about what we ate (and drank) while on our Puerto Rico honeymoon. And if you need to do a little catching up, check out where we stayed and what we did while vacationing it up.
We’ll start our foodie tour at the Deck Bar in Isabela, Puerto Rico. It was the first restaurant we visited in Puerto Rico, and also our first real meal of the day after spending the majority of the day traveling.
The Deck Bar was located within a 10 minute walk from our compound and also the restaurant/bar that we spent the most time at. Hmmm…within walking distance of home base and a view like this…no wonder we spent so much time there.
On our first night at the Deck Bar (without a camera sadly), we were ready to try the local fare. Shortly before embarking on our Puerto Rico journey, we were watching the Food Network and they were doing a special about the food in Puerto Rico. That’s where I first heard about mofongo. So of course I had to try it. Essentially, it’s chicken in a creole like seasoning/sauce with fried plantains and it is magically delicious.
I think I had chicken mofongo at least four times while we were on vacation. Pretty much every place we went to eat at I looked first for mofongo and if they didn’t have it, settled for a salad. That first night at the deck bar, we were starving so we also wanted an appetizer. We asked our bar tender what we should try since we were PR newbies. He suggested a sampler platter which wasn’t on the menu that was full of local flavor. There were mini fish empanadas, fried plantains, plantain encrusted shrimp, fried cheese (which we expected to be mozzarella stick like but was a a gooey wedge of cheese), and sorrullitos. Let’s talk about the sorrullitos for a bit because we also fell in love with those…hard.
Sorrullitos are basically fried corn. It’s like a mini piece of corn bread, in stick like form, and fried. They were so delicious, especially paired with the spicy dipping sauce, kind of like a southwest sauce, that most places served it with. I would die happy if I could be embalmed in that sauce!
Let’s talk beverages a little bit. We tried the local beer, Medalla and Medalla Light, but it’s just not for us. Medalla/Medalla Light to Puerto Rico is what Budweiser/Bud Light is to the states. But we did happen to find our favorite beer there:
It was just like being home in New England! Did you see the “Puerto Rico” listed on the bottom of the label. I love it.
We quickly discovered, during our stay in Isabela, that breakfast is hard to come by. Most places weren’t open during the week and the ones that were opened later. There was no such thing as a 24 hour Dunkin Donuts/Tim Hortons there! But we did find this little gem called El Carey where we were treated to fresh squeezed orange juice and a great convo about Puerto Rico vs. Dominican in the World Baseball Classic.
Another favorite breakfast joint of ours was Ola Lola’s Cafe and Breakfast Club in Isabela.
I loved the open air feeling of the cafe along with the tree growing right up through the roof of the covering. And you gotta love any place where the owner comes right up to you and asked “where you from and what’s your story”. The owner and his wife hail from Michigan (I think) and used to vacation on the coast of Maine quite close to where we live! Small world.
Both Colby and I loved Ola Lola’s! The morning we had breakfast there we ordered up a couple of coffees, which I should note their uniqueness. Mine was an iced coffee and Colby’s was a regular old hot coffee. They don’t give you sugar and cream. Instead, you get a bottle of simple syrup and a cup of warmed milk for your coffee. We learned that this was the norm around the area. Their idea of coffee is closer to what we consider a latte.
But breakfast was much more like we were used to…staples of omelettes, waffles, eggs and sausage.
Ola Lola’s is also the home of the peanut butter burger. It sounds weird but I swear to you that it’s delicious! I can’t wait until grilling season begins so we can start grilling these up. Colby was a skeptic but I, the self-proclaimed peanut butter lover, queen of the peanut butter world and ruler of the nut butters, gave it a whirl. Something about the sweetness of the peanut butter combined with the sourness of the relish on top of a meat patty had me hooked. And it wasn’t so much just peanut butter slathered on top of a burger, it was more like a peanut butter sauce.
Another favorite restaurant of ours was Picoteo which was somewhere between Rincon (where we went to the surfing competition) and back at the compound in Isabela. Honestly, I have no idea where it was other than it was on the ocean.
Colby and I started off the trip loyal Trip Advisor/Yelp-ers when it came down to trying to find a place to eat. But it got old fast and we kept turning down what could have been amazing places because of one bad review. So we threw our phones out the window (figuratively…not literally) along with some caution to the wind and started choosing places on a whim. Picoteo was one of these places.
At Picoteo, I stuck with my usual chicken mofongo. This version had the chicken served in a fried plantain bowl.
Colby also went all out and ordered red snapper…very tasty! Please tell me some of you get the UHF movie reference?
Colby’s fish dish was another one we saw on the Food Network cooking channel and swore he would try it somewhere. The whole fish concept kind of grossed me out. But Colby put a napkin over the poor fish’s head while we were eating so it could have some sense of modesty. But despite the grossness (my opinion…not Colby’s), Colby loved it! It was in fact, very tasty.
Now, it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t share with you one of our last food stops of the trip, in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. I hereby dedicate this portion of the blog post to all of our Vermont family members out there…the Vermonter (Colby…I’m a Maine-ah) found Ben & Jerry’s.
Of course we had to go in and try it…you know…to see if Ben & Jerry’s tastes the same in Puerto Rico as it does in Vermont. And we can confirm that yes, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream does in fact taste the same in San Juan as it does in Vermont. It was funny when we walked in and the staff behind the counter tried to explain Ben & Jerry’s to us when Colby mentioned something like, “oh, I’m from Vermont” and was familiar with the ice cream. They just stared at us. I’m not sure they realized Vermont and Ben & Jerry’s is synonymous.
And finally, what trip would be complete for a pair of hot sauce lovers than a stop into Spicy Caribee. Spicy Caribee is a hot sauce/seasoning shop in Old San Juan just across the street from Ben & Jerry’s. The shelves were packed full of hot sauces, relishes, spices, and other flavorful bits. They even had a sampler section where you could try all their various hot sauces.
And we sampled them…we sampled them all! And loved about 90% of them…one of them tried to kill us. Death by hot sauce. But alas, we came home empty handed. We have enough hot sauce in our lives already. No joke, we have an entire door shelf in our refrigerator dedicated to hot sauces so there was no need for us to fuel the addiction. But these were so yummy!
Are you hungry yet? It’s a good thing I’m writing this post shortly after finishing dinner because I’m pretty sure I would have started eating my computer screen if I was hungry. Mmmmmm…chicken mofongo! I really want to try making my own chicken mofongo since our local grocery store sells plantains for relatively cheap. But I haven’t come across a recipe yet that screams, “make me”. The search continues!
Pssst…Do you guys love trying the local foods when you travel? Do you ever find your everyday food life to be pretty boring or reserved but then you travel and try all sorts of crazy foods? That’s totally me! I mean…I hate fish…like HATE fish and am allergic to sea food. So for me to try fish empanadas was pretty ballsy!