Puerto Rican Food
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20 Classic Puerto Rican Food And Beverage Items You Should Try

Food In Puerto Rico Reflects The Exuberance For Life And Family Across The Islands. A Foodies Guide to Traditional Puerto Rican Dishes

Wandering through the streets of Old San Juan you will encounter several wonderful eateries where you can dine on traditional Puerto Rican food. A food tour is a great option, and I have a terrific one listed below. Additionally, a trip through the center of Puerto Rico along the Ruta de Lechon will delight you in succulent, classic cuisine. You may be in Puerto Rico to visit the beaches, but the food in Puerto Rico will tickle your taste buds with Latin flavors and sumptuous bites.

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Food Tour

I like to begin a visit to a new-to-me destination with a food tour, and my first visit to San Juan was no exception. Food tours are typically mixed with history and center in the older section of town. They also should introduce you to delicious authentic local cuisine. Your guide is a wealth of information about where to go and what to see.

The tour I recommend is the Flavors of San Juan Food Tour. We explored everything from making your own mofongo to exploring the streets and alleys of Old San Juan. Go hungry, there is an amazing amount of delicious food presented.

Ruta de Lechón

Puerto Rican Food
Pork Candy at Lechonera El Cuñao

On a weekend road trip through the central mountains, away from the city, you will find the Ruta de Lechon (Pork Road). As you traverse the winding terrain of the Guavate barrio in Cayey, along the road you will encounter numerous lechoneras serving up succulent, slow roasted pork, Lechón Asado. You will also find roasted chicken and numerous classic Puerto Rican side dishes to round out your plate.

Don’t forget to taste the “Pig Candy.” The long, slow roast of the Lechón produces a crispy skin that is the prized bite. The seasoned skin has a lacquered finish that is reminiscent of caramelized candy.

Cayey is about an hour drive from San Juan, so renting a car for the day and driving is doable.

1. Mofongo

Puerto Rican Food

One of the dishes most often connected to Puerto Rico is Mofongo. A side dish made with starchy green plantains. The plantains are fried then mashed by hand with various ingredients such as garlic, olive oil, chicharrones and camarones guisados (shrimp sauce). Turned out from the mashing pilon it makes a beautiful and delectable presentation.

A much beloved, ubiquitous dish it is found at almost every restaurant.

2. Asopao de Pollo

Puerto Rican Food
Asopao de Pollo

Chicken soup is good for the soul, and Puerto Rico’s version, Asopao de Pollo, is excellent. I first encountered true Puerto Rican Asopa de Pollo at a roadside restaurant, Abolengo. A charming little restaurant with a family friendly atmosphere and superb home-crafted local cuisine.

Their Asopa was comforting, as any good stew should be, rich with chicken, rice, and the slow cooked flavor of your favorite Abuela’s recipe.

3. Guineitos En Escabeche

The wonderful side dish, Guineitos en Escabeche, is a perfectly acidic concoction made to accompany the rich pork dishes prevalent across the islands.

Made with green bananas, vinegar, garlic, adobo seasoning, and other flavors, Guineitos en Escabeche is served up at holiday feasts but is equally at home for a Sunday supper.

4. Yuca Con Mojo

The root of the cassava plant, yuca is a starchy Puerto rican food that can be found in many dishes. Yuca con Mojo is made with boiled yuca that is then tossed in a garlic, citrus mojo dressing. Yummy!

5. Sancocho

A soup steeped in Caribbean history, Sancocho is a blend of beef, chicken and root vegetables. Cooked for hours, it begins with the classic sofrito — onions, peppers, garlic, cilantro, and other regional flavors. Add in flavorful ingredients like Sazon and Adobo seasoning for a hearty and nutritious dish.

Sancocho was the first dish Chef José Andrés began to cook when he arrived in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the islands. His book, We Fed An Island, is a moving story of how one man’s resourcefulness and a desire to help can change the narrative.

6. Tostones

Plantain fries, tostones are soft on the inside with a crispy exterior. A distant relative to the classic french fry, tostones are ubiquitous on Puerto Rican plates. Twice fried plantains impart a crunchy element to any dish, they are a must try when visiting Puerto Rico.

7. Arroz Con Gandules

Puerto Rican Food
Arroz Con Gandules

A perfectly cooked Arroz con Gandules is the go to side dish for family gatherings. One Auntie or trusted family member is always responsible for this necessary dish. Made with a sauted sofrito, Sazon seasoning, rice, and tine green pigeon peas, Arroz con Gandules goes with everything — it appeals to vegetarians and meat lovers alike.

8. Morcilla

Puerto Rican Food
Dinner at El Mejor

My first sampling of Morcilla was at Lechonera El Mojito on a foodie adventure along the Ruta del Lechón.

As a self proclaimed foodie, I feel the need to at least try everything presented on the table. The black Morcilla tested my metal. It is a sausage made from pigs blood and rice. Spiced with hot chili peppers, the blood sausage is rich and fiery. The chili peppers help mitigate the metallic blood taste.

Morcilla is best eaten hot and I recommend having a strong beverage standing by to chase down the bite.

9. Longaniza

A sweet and mildly spicy sausage option is Longaniza. Made with ground pork, garlic, and annatto, Longaniza is porky and delicious. The ground annatto imparts a soft red hue and a nutty flavor to the classic sausage. 

10. Pasteles

Christmas in Puerto Rico is celebrated for months. While awaiting the arrival of the Three Kings, enjoying Pasteles is a yummy Christmas time tradition. They are made with a pork and adobo stuffing that is encased with a green plantain or yuca masa. The rectangle patty is wrapped in banana leaves then boiled for a firm but soft texture.

The labor intensive pasteles typically involve the entire family working together to produce this traditional puerto rican dish.

11. Empanadillas

Puerto Rican Food
Beef Empanadillas at Casa Vieja

One of my favorite bites are Puerto Rican Empanadillas, an unctuous fried turnover. Savory ground beef seasoned with traditional Puerto Rican spices marries with tomato, sofrito, and olives. Wrapped in a buttery, flaky pie dough, the empanadillas are fried until golden brown with slightly crispy edges.

These hand pies make a perfect lunch or a late night snack. You will taste some of the best Empanadillas at Casa Vieja along the Ruta de Lechon.

12. Gandinga

Puerto Rican Food

This one was a real test of currage. Gandinga is one of those dishes I had to try. It took a while to screw up my courage to take a taste, but I did and I survived! Truly tip-to-tail cooking, gandinga is an offal stew made with pig’s kidneys, heart, and liver. It is served over white rice with a zesty sauce that adds a rich flavor and masks the flavor of the organ meats.

While it’s not a dish I recommend to every diner, the more adventurous eater can add this dish to their dining repertoire. 

13. Pollo Asado

The lushious roast pork is a rich and beautiful dish, however, sometimes you need a little pork relief. That is the time to turn to Pollo Asado. A beautifully seasoned, spit-roasted chicken. Tender and juicy, the roast chicken can be found at all the good Lechóneras.

Have a little bit of both pork and chicken on your plate for a meat extravaganza!

14. Tembleque

Puerto Rican Food

I can’t say no to coconut pudding for dessert! Tembleque is a simply prepared, sweet, soft custard. Dusted with cinnamon, it is the perfect ending to a heavy meal.

15. Mango Popsicle

Puerto Rican Food
Mango Popsicle

Exploring Puerto Rico with the island sunshine can leave you hot and dry. Something as simple and tasty as a tropical fruit popsicle is a light and refreshing mid afternoon snack. Senior Poleta in Old San Juan offers a variety of flavors like this delicious mango popsicle and you will spend more than a few minutes deciding on your favorite flavor. Stop by and choose your favorite flavor, then stroll the fort area while savoring your frozen treat.

16. Pina Colada

Puerto Rican Food
Pina Colada

No drink is more synonymous with Puerto Rico than the Pina Colada. Invented at the Caribe Hilton in 1954, the tropical vacation libation is world renown. Stop by the Caribar to enjoy the original Pina Colada, you will love the vibe and the sweet, creamy beverage.

17. Coquito

Puerto Rican Food
Coquito Recipe

You must try Coquito, Puerto Rico’s traditional Christmas cocktail. Akin to eggnog, Coquito is made from coconut milk, condensed milk, and spiced with rum or Pitoro (Puerto Rican moonshine). The delicious drink is thick and creamy, sweet and rich, however, one or two glasses will set you back a full day’s worth of calories.

18. Medalla

Puerto Rican Food

The hearty nature of Puerto Rican food pairs well with a light beer. Medalla Light beer, produced by Compañía Cervecera de Puerto Rico, is one of the top selling beers across the islands. Medalla offers a light, well-rounded flavor that marries perfectly with the local rich pork and starchy side dishes.

19. Malta India

Puerto Rican Food
Malta India

Another must taste beverage is Malta India, a local soft drink manufactured in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The soft drink has a unique flavor profile; thick and dark, the malta aroma is unmistakable. The beverage is syrup-like and very sweet. You will either love the sweet beverage or you will never order it again. Either way, it is worth a try.

20. Ron del Barrilito

Puerto Rican Food
Ron del Barrilito

A short 30 minute drive from San Juan to Bayamón is the Hacienda Santa Ana estate, home to Ron del Barrilito Rum. I am a bourbon drinker and I was a little skeptical about a rum tasting, however, I was pleasantly surprised.

Produced in small batches, the classic Puerto Rican rum was exceptional. I particularly like the four-star rum tasting.

Puerto Rican Cuisine

I am not a chef, most of the ingredients in Puerto Rican food I know from devouring the dishes presented to me. Ingredient and recipe help came from Salima’s Kitchen and her extensive list of authentic Puerto Rican food. I highly recommend following any of her yummy recipes. Bring a little island tradition into your cooking repertoire.

Happy Travels,



Puerto Rican Food


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  1. I like the idea of planning a food tour when we visit a new spot. Definitely a great way to find some tasty Puerto Rican food and beverage favourites. Hubby would surely be checking out the local Medalla beer and finding a new rum to take home.

  2. I would go on a food tour to discover Puerto Rican Food. I started to recognize some of the words of the food you have listed and your explanations help to understand the type of food. A guide on a tour would also help.

  3. I’ve only had Puerto Rican food once and I loved it. These 20 Classic Puerto Rican Food And Beverage Items would definitely be worth trying!

  4. I love this! Puerto Rico is on our list of places we hope to visit soon. The food looks amazing! And the drinks look yummy too. The food is always one of my favorite parts of traveling 🙂

  5. Exploring Puerto Rican delicacies is like embarking on a lovely adventure of flavors and traditions! This list captures the essence of Puerto Rican gastronomy beautifully. From the iconic mofongo to clean piña coladas, each dish and beverage tells a tale of the island’s rich cultural history. Can’t wait to bask in those classics on my next go to to Puerto Rico!