Puerto Rico Food and Drink
Preserving its colonial culinary heritage, Puerto Rico cuisine is predominantly Spanish-based, with other European, African and indigenous influences added to the pot. Local dishes – comida criolla – are richly spiced, with rice and beans as the staple diet.
Seafood and tropical fruits are not as abundant on Puerto Rican menus as many visitors expect. Guava and papaya on a restaurant menu, for example, are often candied and served with cheese, as a tasty sweet-and-savoury dessert.
Many of Puerto Rico's favourite foods are fried, including empanadas, pasties stuffed with beef, chicken, or fish; and fried sliced plantain, tostones. Rich stews are popular too: asopao is a mixed stew of chicken and seafood, and sancocho a hearty beef casserole with root vegetables.
Mofongo: Afro-based dish of mashed plantain, stuffed with bacon, chicken or seafood and served in a broth.
Tostones: Thick sliced plantain, fried as chips.
Maduros: Sweet plantains; served fried or baked as a side dish.
Lechón asado: Roast suckling pig; a holiday dish particularly popular in the mountain town of Guavate.
Arroz y habichuelas: Rice and beans; the beans are typically kidney beans and are often served in liquid, separate from the rice.
Quesitos: A sweet pastry stuffed with cream cheese.
Pastel: A plantain-based pasty typically steamed in a plantain leaf; popular throughout Spanish America as the tamal.
Bacalao: Salted cod prepared in one of many styles, but perhaps most commonly served as serenata de bacalao or bacalao serenade, which is a tomato-based stew, with cod, potatoes, and onions.
Piraguas: Paper cones filled with shaved ice, typically flavoured with passion fruit, mango or pineapple.
Piña colada: Puerto Rico claims to have invented this famous rum-based cocktail, one of many tropical drinks available, with and without alcohol.
Rum: Any drink featuring rum is a safe and sure bet – Barrilio, Don Q, and Bacardi are popular local brands.
Beer: As elsewhere in the region, most beers are light lagers; Medalla and Silver Key are two of the leading labels.
Coquito: A holiday drink, like eggnog, served around Christmas.
Mavi: A soft drink popular throughout the Caribbean, made from the bark of certain trees, with added sugar, spices and sometimes carbonated.
It is customary to leave a 15-20% tip if service gratuities are not included on the bill.