Traveling through Puerto Rican Food (photo essay)

It is Cultural Tidbits Monday and we continue with our new mini series, today Traveling Through Puerto Rican food! Tough one, as this means food from my homeland–hard to pick just a few dishes! But I will choose, I mean do my best. =)

As you already know, on the series, I’ll be featuring some of my favorite ethnic foods and restaurants through educational (and quite yummy) photo essays. Buen provecho!

Puerto Rican food: The fast food trucks

I was just in the Enchanted Island earlier this month, so I made sure I savoured some of my favorite Puerto Rican food. let’s begin with what I always miss the most: Boricua FAST FOOD! 😀

First, let me begin by explaining that some of the best Puerto Rican fast food comes in a truck by the ocean…

Puerto Rican food truck

Gotta love them Puerto Rican food trucks on random beach sides in the middle of a highway

After finding your perfect fast food truck (which btw, mine was closet o the town of Dorado, PR), you simply ask for your banquet. I knew exactly what I wanted… Alcapurria filled with crab meat, pastelillo (aka empanada) filled with chapin (red snapper), and fried toston with crab meat. Oh.My.Gosh

Puerto Rican food

Typical Puerto Rican food staples! From left: An alcapurria (still untouched), Goya hot sauce, Coco Rico coconut soda, mojito spicy seasoning, mayo ketchup (yes, mayo + ketchup in a bottle)

Let’s start with my # 1: The alcapurria (on left). It can be made of either mashed plantain or Yuca (cassava), basically making a “dough,” which is stuffed, rolled, and then deep fried. Typical fillings include ground beef, shrimp, chapin (red snapper) or crab meat. My favorite is the latter, then slightly seasoned with some drops of hot sauce while eating =D and, ahh, how can we forget my Coco Rico? Such a refreshing soda, made of coconut water and sugar cane. Yum!

Puerto Rican food

From left: Alcapurria (almost fully eaten), toston filled with crab meat, pastelillo (aka empanada) filled with chapin (red snapper) and Coco Rico soda

Now to my # 2: The toston. The best part of this one is that it can be anything: You can make a gigantic one and fill it with a seafood salad; you could use it as an edible bowl for whatever Puerto Rican food your little heart desires; make a couple of small tostones as sides of a meat dish with rice and beans; or finally, like I did on this sunny day at the food truck, simply eat it as a small appetizer. It is so easy to make, too: Simply buy a green plantain, slice it (medium thinkness), dip it in garlic salt, fry it lightly, take it out, smash it (so it is like a thin disc), fry it again until crispy: That’s IT! Then put whatever you want on top. I felt like crab meat this time =D

Puerto Rican food

A better view of my Puerto Rican food. Of course, I had already killed the alcapurria

My favorite thing about Puerto Rican fast food is that most stands (or food trucks are alway located by the ocean, so great views can be enjoyed while nom noming *wink* while the food truck i chose this time didn’t have the best view or beach…

Puerto Rican food

Those waters were dirty from all the mud and soil movement due to the heavy rains of Hurricane Irene. But anyway, gotta love them Puerto Rican food trucks stopping right by the ocean! Here I’m enjoying my alcapurria with crab and CoCo Rico soft drink =D

Kiosks located in Luquillo, for example, are awesome for both the quality of their food + views:

Puerto Rican food Luquillo Kiosks

Puerto Rican food kiosk in Luquillo. The cigar-shaped “tacos” are just like the typical empanadas, but shaped differently. Can be filled with lobster, shrimp, beef, chicken, red snapper (Photo:

Luquillo, Puerto Rico

Gorgeous beach just a few steps away from delicious Puerto Rican food in Luquillo (photo:

Puerto Rican food: Samplers

Before I jump to the heavy weights, I need to give you some other samplers of Puerto Rican fast food…

Pinchos Puerto Rican food

Pinchos (Photo:

^^ Pinchos = Puerto Rican shish kabobs. BBQ chicken or pork, you name it. Seasoned well with good ol’ adobo (Latin spices conveniently mixed packed in a bottle). Nicely divided pieces with crispy tostones. Enough said (nom nom!)

Puerto Rican food, bacalaito

Bacalaito, Puerto Rican fast food specialty. Photo:

^^ Bacalaitos, made of salty cod fish. It is basically a bit of batter and cod fish put together, fried. Final product? A crispy outer layer with a somewhat-chewy inner layer. They are really fatty, so just have to be in the mood for them. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don’t. But when they come nicely crispy and fresh, you just can’t say no!

Puerto Rican food: The heavy weights

Now the heavy weights *cracks fingers* you see, it is tough to choose between them. In fact, so tough, that I am considering writing a Puerto Rican food part 2 of this series…but only if your request it! =P at any rate, let’s start with my favorite heavy delicacy, of course: The MOFONGO.

Puerto Rican food, stuffed mofongo

The good picture of stuffed mofongo (Photo:

Seems like everything I love about Puerto Rican food has something to do with either plantains or yuca (cassava) or seafood. Mmm. To the foreigner, the simplest way to explain what mofongo is: Amazingly-seasoned mashed plantains. Glorified mashed plantains stuffed with goodness. What’s goodness? It could either be calamari/octopus, seafood mix, or just lobster, shrimp, pork or beef. You name it. People choose different adjectives to describe and order their mofongo, you know what I mean?

I had my glorious mofongo this time by a stationary Puerto Rican food truck (attached to a casual restaurant) close to my parents’ house in Caguas, Puerto Rico. This time, I chose to stuff it with pulled chicken breast, soaked in garlic goodness (sorry, my mobile camera sucks!):

chicken mofongo Puerto Rican food

The chicken mofongo

In true heavy weight fashion, I couldn’t *just* have stuffed mofongo…

Puerto Rican food, asopao

My seafood and rice asopao. Way more delicious than this crappy photo can attest

…I also had some amazing asopao (aka ridiculously-seasoned, heavy-charged Puerto Rican soup)! The seafood kind this time: Mine had chunks of lobster, jumbo shrimp, octopus–and some yellow rice for good measure. The little disks you see on the right? You guessed it: Crispy plantain tostones! All.To.Die.For.

Puerto Rican drinks

How did I wash all that Puerto Rican food down? I had to make a tough decision between a Coco Rico and…

Puerto Rican Malta India

Puerto Rican Malta India – very sweet malt beverage

My beloved 100% Puerto Rican Malta India won the duel. How could I say no to India? I’d had enough white lately (no offense!)–I needed some brown sweetness in my life. And ahhhh, was it all worth it. Oh please Ms. India, take a canoe and come back to me!!

Hmmm, so I am both getting hungry again, nostalgic and thinking this post is too long already. *sigh* I was only getting started with the Puerto Rican food! Alright alright, some of us need to sleep while others need to go back to the frozen lunches I mean good pre-packaged food =) if you wish to learn more about Puerto Rican food, just let me know on a comment below and I will make sure I write another educational, nom-nom post for ya, yeah?

Puerto Rican roads

Have you ever had Puerto Rican food? What’s your favorite dish?

9 thoughts on “Traveling through Puerto Rican Food (photo essay)

  1. It all looks yummy…I ran across your entry when looking for a recipe for chapin…which you mention in your piece. But you say that chapin is red snapper, but it isn’t. Chapin is cow fish and also known as trunk fish…which gringos don’t like here in Florida. I just caught some this morning and am about to make empanadas de chapin.

    • oh really? Thanks for that. The Puerto Rican who told me the translation was red snapper must have been wrong!

      I do love me some chapin though, can’t wait to grab some pastelillos from Naguabo when I go back!

  2. I love this post! That is REAL Puerto Rican food! Thank you! The pictures are lovely and very enticing. If you can add names of places you like or specific directions, you would be the best!!

    • oh Lauren, there are so many amazing places you can find these traditional Puerto Rican dishes, all over the island! Tell me which town specifically you’ll be staying at and then I can give you some more detailed/specific recommendations 😉

  3. I love the pastelillos, the bacalaitos, monfongo with fried pork or a mixture of seafood. but what i really love about the food is the piononos of the island, yummy.

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