The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Maybe it’s all Puerto Rican food that sucks.

Trigger Warning:  This article contains information about Puerto Rican food which may be triggering to Puerto Ricans or others who love Puerto Rican food. This especially holds true for my real-life friend/blog commenter Max Doinel, who was born and raised on the lovely island.  Max, if this offends,  let’s open some Pinot and you can try to convince me otherwise.

Outside of getting my pork fix on the first day, all of the meals we had that week were either Puerto Rican cuisine-inspired or just not Puerto Rican at all.   We were riding around on a little sailboat and the guy from the hotel was waxing somewhat eloquently about some of the traditional dishes of the island.   He was right.   As a foodie I have the responsibility to get off the hotel property and eat like the locals do. And it’s not like we were in some place where eating like the natives involves grubs and other assorted insects stuffed inside fish bladders.

He suggested we go to the very edge of the Ritz property and walk a couple blocks into the town of Dorado.   On the beach road there are few blocks of small, open-air restaurants serving fresh fish and other local favorites.   He said the best of the bunch was Katrina Sea Food as they had the freshest fish and best mofongo – the mashed plantain dish that’s the pride of the island.


Katrina front


The front of the restaurant was an insane maritime/native museum that made absolutely no sense.  Which in some ways is good because it’s more of a hole in the wall as opposed to some slick decor of a restaurant that spent more money on a decorator than a chef.


Katrina museum


They had some t-shirts and other knick-knacks for sale and I almost got a bag of the coffee they were selling.

katrina coffee


I had no idea whether it was any good, but I’m pretty sure the name translated to Motherfucker Coffee.


What We Ate

As a complimentary amuse-bouche of sorts, we each got a styrofoam cup with their signature fish broth.

katrina broth

It was pure umami, that fifth flavor taste best described as “savory”.   It tasted like shit. I know it’s a liquid, but calling it piss would be too generous.


Meat and shrimp empanadillas

Katrina empanadilla


The dough was nicely done – light and flaky. The meat was just ok, not very spicy, and the shrimp one was had 85% less flavor.

Boom Boom got the fried Grouper with mofongo

katrina fish


Not good. Downright awful.  All the locals we spoke to consider this the best way to have the fish.   But this thing had the living daylights fried out of it.   There was nothing left to eat on it.

I ordered the mofongo stuffed with octopus.

Katrina oct mofongo

The octopus was fresh, but was a little rubbery and the sauce was just bland and lifeless.

As for the mofongo… I’m assuming that this is a good representation of it and I can certainly appreciate the dish.   It’s starchy and can see where it’ll be a good with a better sauce or gravy on it.


I don’t get it.   To hear natives there rave about their “national” dish you’d think it was like a Big Mac, hot dog, or slice of pizza.   This is a side dish.    It’s essentially mashed potatoes with more flavor.   Not good flavor, mind you, just more.    I’m SURE there’s some wonderful grandmother somewhere on the island that can make a mofongo that’ll stir the spirits, but I don’t want to sample any more of them to try to find that great show-stopping mofongo.

It’s hard to judge whether what he had was a true indication of how good Puerto Rican cuisine is, but evidence is pointing to Puerto Rican food just downright sucks – the preparation, the flavor profiles, the textures.  Everything.

Except for the roasted pork. Because… well… ROASTED PORK.

Are you a fan of Puerto Rican food?   Do you like mofongo?  Am I right on that translation of the coffee label?



About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

58 comments on “Maybe it’s all Puerto Rican food that sucks.

  1. Go Jules Go
    September 23, 2015

    My reader says this post amounts to exactly 666 words. I think you’re in for a lot of Pinot (although no worries about an inflammatory response here; I’m not sure I’ve ever had anything that can be specifically labeled Puerto Rican cuisine…maybe it was too bland for me to remember?).

  2. armchairsommelier
    September 23, 2015

    Tepid beige broth in a styrofoam cup . . . what’s not to love? N-A-S-T-Y!! Kinda set the tone for the rest of the meal, though, huh?? That grouper looks like fish jerky. I’ve never had Puerto Rican food before . . . don’t think I will seek it out any time soon! Was the beer at least palatable??

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 23, 2015

      Palatable in the sense it was cold, wet, and didn’t taste like that fish broth. Only one available is Medalia, which is like Bud light without the attitude.

      • Max D.
        September 23, 2015

        I’ll say this: once I landed in PR, the ONLY thing I drank was Medalla. It is like Bud Lite, but when it’s humid and 95 degrees, nothing feels better. It is a lite beer, and I swear it must have less than 2% alcohol by volume. Many a morning I would wake up and feel like drinking 2 or 3 cans right away. It is refreshing the way Gatorade is refreshing, but it is also foul and tasteless the way that Gatorade is foul and tasteless.

    • Anonymous
      July 16, 2018

      some craft beer around the island. but for the most part no the beer also sucks. and the local medilla is cheaper than water. they want to keep the people fucked up and stupid there. its working.

  3. Max D.
    September 23, 2015

    While I’d be more than happy to get a bottle of Pinot from the FWH, the fact is that there’s nothing here that offends me. I should probably pretend I’m seriously hurt, like you’ve insulted my mother or something, just so I could get a bottle of Charmes-Chambertin out of you, but the fact is this: the odds were against you all along. God bless the people of Dorado, but it’s not exactly a culinary paradise. It’s not even a culinary purgatory. Not even a gas station rest room stop. But to be fair, the island is peppered with lousy–and I mean lousy–restaurants. I went to a restaurant in Fajardo, the easternmost town of the island. The restaurant was literally right across the street from the ocean, and it was a one-lane street. I could sit in front of the restaurant and cast a fishing line and with luck catch something. But no, when I asked, all their fish came from Miami. their specialty? Chicken Alfredo. I shit you not. Thank goodness they made awesome piña coladas.

    I had not been in PR since 2011, and this summer I stayed there a month. I ate at home (well, my mother’s home) all the time, and ate incredibly well. My younger brother set up a diy BBQ pit and smoker, and his pork shoulder and turkey were phenomenal. When we ate out, it was hit or miss, more often than not miss. I never once had good mofongo in a restaurant. I blame overambitious “chefs” who want to put a modern spin on an old classic. If you’re name is Ferran Adria, you can pull it off. If not, you’re gonna end up with. . . well, you already showed us in vivid color.

    The lesson? Next time, we take the families to PR and go straight to my mother’s. You won’t be impressed with her kitchen, appliances (electric stove), utensils (very dull knives), but she’s been cooking since the 1950’s, so she knows a thing or two about PR food and flavors. We could try going to Guavate, pig heaven, but even there we’d have to go with someone who really knows what’s what.

    One thing is for sure: exquisite or deplorable, PR is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of healthy eating. Despite hiking through rain forests and deserts (yep, PR has deserts), going to the beach on a daily basis, walking up and down Old San Juan, I gained ten pounds in a month, and my cholesterol level rose to insane levels.

    If I can make one feeble attempt at an excuse/apology, we have to remember that the island is in an economic shithole. Sales tax is now 11.25%, unemployment is probably closer to 20%. Electricity rates are the highest in the US. Water has been rationed due to a drought. A restauranteur has to deal with lack of running water one or two days in a row, huge expenses, and diminishing sales due to high unemployment plus competition from good ol’ American chains. they end up hiring college graduates because college graduates can’t get jobs in their fields. You can imagine the front and back of house atmosphere is always tense: a room full of college-educated people arguing over whose turn is it to check the temperature on the meat that has been sitting out all day. A restaurant owner has to cut corners, and if it means hiring a second-rate chef (because all the good ones are now in Orlando) and buying second-rate produce, then so be it.

    Our best meal was at Marmalade, a restaurant in Old San Juan, and it is run by a guy from Iowa City. Yes, there are good and authentic places to eat, but your odds of finding them on your own, or in Dorado, are very, very slim.

    PS Mofongo is a side dish made of unripe (green) plantains (sometimes yucca or cassava), salt, pork rinds, and lots of garlic. Traditionally, it is served in a mortar-shaped bowl. You can add some chicken broth, or maybe even some small bite-sized pieces of chicken, but THAT’S IT. If you have access to an actual ocean and actual fresh seafood, I can see using octopus or snapper, but you’re pushing your luck now. Let some classics be classics, and let true professionals play with them. I”m sure there’s some wicked way to make French fries in a reduction pig snout sauce topped with baby kale shoots and sea salt from Bosnia-New Zealand, but just give me a bottle of ketchup, and I’m happy.

    I’m sorry this is so long. I guess what I’m really trying to say is: you’ve insulted my heritage and my honor. You must make amends by making an offering a bottle of 1998 Bernard Dugat-Py Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. I’ll make the mofongo.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 23, 2015

      Sounds like a deal. Maybe I’ll make a seared duck breast to go with my Burgundy and hold the mofongo. Unless you think you can get u ripe plantains at Kroger.

      Agreed on Marmalade… That was terrfic

      • Max D.
        September 23, 2015

        Green plantains aren’t that hard to find here, surprisingly. But I wouldn’t pair mofongo with Pinot. I would pair it with beer, or some good yeasty/bready Champagne. Cava’s good too.

    • Anonymous
      July 16, 2018

      economic shit hole is no excuse for shitty people… i have traveled the world and puerto ricans are just ass holes. they are spoiled children… on paper it sucks. but they all accept federal welfare and us it to buy beer.

  4. bluehourblonde
    September 23, 2015

    This is actually my problem with food and travel. I love food. I love good food. I love food that peoples’ moms and dads and grandparents cook. But when I travel, finding places with that level of food – real, good, honest, food – is so much work and a such a crap shoot (hoping that your tastes align with those of others who you rely on for recommendations like locals, blogs, yelp reviews, tripadvisor reviews, articles, etc.), that even in a place like Italy I felt like the vast majority of my meals were disappointing. I wish there was a way to make the culinary experience abroad more satisfying. I know how to make seeing sights better for myself (going at off times, finding ways to bypass lines, reading about the sights ahead of time so I know what I want to see and what I am looking at, hiring a private tour if necessary), but I am at a loss for food. Sigh.

    • Max D.
      September 23, 2015

      If memory serves me right, the FWH blogged about this same problem not too long ago. I had the same problem in Puerto Rico, and I was born and raised there! It’s hit or miss. I’m not going to say that I went to Cuba during the 90’s, but I’ll just say that I can vividly imagine not knowing where to eat without some sort of reference point. I will say that I can also vividly imagine meeting a young man in one of Havana’s squares, and I can also imagine that person taking me to his tiny, tiny apartment where he lived with his extended family, and finally, I can imagine having a great, humble, unpretentious, authentic, and did I say great meal. So apparently outside the US, the best place to eat is at someone’s home.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 23, 2015

      Yes, it’s always a crapshoot. As max mentioned, I did write about this – I’ve had pretty good luck with gaming Yelp and Trip Advisor – reading between the lines and looking for key words. Unfortunately you have to eat at a bunch of bad meals to calibrate.

      Thx for stopping by!!

  5. John Toti
    September 24, 2015

    Come on man, one restaurant review does not do a good job of defining an island’s cuisine. Not a fair assessment at all.Do your home work next time and enjoy!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 24, 2015

      That’s fair. But we did get the glowing recommendation from the boat guy and two others. We were on vCation so we’re trying to avoid the Internet at all costs. Checked now and this got so many positive reviews. Oh well, can’t always get the great local experiences – have to suffer thru some bad ones. Thx!

  6. thewineraconteur
    September 24, 2015

    I can’t help you, on the cuisine of PR, as I have only had lunch at the historic El San Juan Hotel and Casino once, many moons ago.

  7. Pingback: Leaving Puerto Rico – Cafe Avila | The Food and Wine Hedonist

  8. Mark
    April 18, 2016

    Y’all hungry without eating for days will eat your own shit bunch of hypocrites food is food same thing is cooked everywhere.

  9. Chrissy Jones
    June 12, 2016

    I was very disappointed with the food I had in PR. The black beans and rice were almost totally unsliced and flavorless. This was supposed to be one of their points of pride in Old San Juan. Bleh.

  10. eric morales
    September 11, 2016

    You are 100 million percent right. The best food on the island comes from a grandmothers kitchen! Most food here is cooked down to a price at restaurants with very untrained places. Best bet is finding a place owned by someone that forces their mom to cook.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 27, 2016

      Was starting to think the same applies here on the mainland, but have experienced way too many awful home cooked meals. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. EB
    November 12, 2016

    Yes – you are spot on. Have been living here for 4 years. Worst cuisine ever!! It is very difficult to find a decent restaurant. And the worst part – no seafood! An island in the caribbean, and they don’t have fresh seafood!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      November 15, 2016

      That lack of seafood surprised me, too. Fish I had were deep-fried to rocks. They do a good job with pork, though.

  12. Pal
    January 30, 2017

    I lived in PR for a short time in Ricon and visited surrounding areas. In disclosure I moved from South America so I have an exposure to Latin Food beyond a single trip to PR. At first I thought I would give the PR a year trial and see if it was a place to stay awhile. In short it did not take me that long to decide it wasn’t worth the costs IMHO.

    Put side foreign food chain restaurants as they are not Puerto Rican. Overall I just wish to say that I had some good meals in PR but I had a lot more disappointing meals. For me I always have to measure my review of a food/meal taking into account costs aka price. I don’t expect a $2 empanadilla to deliver like a $25 fresh fish entre…I think I am being fair in my appraisals. In general I found PR meals expensive for what you got in terms of serving and execution.

    Very disappointed with seafood options in PR. Very pricey and usually not that well executed. Though an island it’s not a place for seafood in any capacity.

    Pork seems to be the most well executed option in PR.

    Transportation in PR is a real bummer. Expensive place to get arround compared to almost every place I’ve been in Latin America. Traffic in a horrible problem for the entire island, no nationwide bus system, no options in general beyond rent a car at USA mainland prices+ or use a local private car or taxi.

    PR is not all bad but I doubt I would every return except if required to.
    I just dont consider PR a good value.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 30, 2017

      Interesting…we were there on a work trip so all of our expenses were paid. So I didn’t really notice prices too much. I thought they were a little high but attributed that to our being in touristy areas. Thanks for the insight.

    • Steve
      March 10, 2018

      How right you are. I live south of Rincon in Cabo Rojo, and can’t wait to leave.

      • Anonymous
        July 16, 2018

        i just left after 1/2 a year. and i dont want to go back. but i also dont want to pay taxes. lol. bottom line PR sucks. really really sucks.

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    July 29, 2017

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  14. thaliaresidente
    September 14, 2017

    As someone who lacks culture you probably shouldn’t be disrespecting my culture. Many Puerto Rican restaurants don’t heavily season their food so that you white tourists won’t complain about our non-spicy food being too spicy. Ya’ll shouldn’t be going to our island anyway, ya’ll have done enough damage. I’m glad you didn’t like our food, saves it from any of ya’ll white people from wanting to take that too.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 15, 2017

      First time I’ve been accused of being white…

      • Steve
        March 10, 2018


    • Max D
      September 15, 2017

      Er, the Food and Wine Hedonist I said many things, but white ain’t one of the them! And as a borinqueño born and bred, as someone who visits the island and still stays in the house he grew up in and thus eats cocina casera, I can attest that many, many of my beloved Puerto Rican restaurants suck. I can imagine how hard it is for travelers to find food authentic local food, because even with family and friends still living there, it’s still hard as hell to find a good restaurant.

    • Anonymous
      July 16, 2018

      hey dude you suck…. don’t try to tell me purto ricans make their food bland for gringos. that is just not true at all. I ask for hot sauce and people look at me like i have 6 heads. puerto ricans do not like spice. not gringos. you are just getting defensive because it is true your food sucks dick. your culture also sucks. the lyrics to your popular songs are disgusting and breed degenerate youth. I am a gringo and i pick up two full garbage bags a week of garbage from my local beach. i have yet to see a puerto rican do that. I ONLY see your people throwing the trash everywhere. so fuck you dude. your island could be the next great destination for American tourism but instead you will always fall short to Jamaica and even Dominican because your people are whiny lazy pieces of shit, with no culture. you love there is a reason why there is so much fast food in PR its because locals love to eat shit. I am an economist and Puerto Rico is actually in the greatest economic situation of any place on earth but you just take the well-fair and don’t take advantage of not being apart of US IRS. More self made millionaires could come out of PR than any place on earth. but you just want the hand out and don’t even care to learn how to take advantage of your special situation.

    • Anonymous
      July 17, 2018

      what culture? you mean shitty music with horrible negative demoralizing lyrics. $2,000 cars with $10,000 sound system? oh you mean the bland food with no flavor? Or are you talking about the rampant alcoholism? I am sorry puerto ricans do no refrain from seasoning because of gringos. your food just sucks. so fuck you. I am sure you love the federal welfare check you accept but have an issue with the tax payers visiting the island. you know the ones that pay for your welfare. Get an attitude adjustment or you and your future generations will be impoverished and uneducated burdens on the global society. There is a reason americans choose DR and jamaica over PR. its because of shitty people like you.

    • Local
      September 15, 2018

      Ya’ll white people can go! Sweet, can we take our welfare dollars with us? I live in PR for work reasons for 10 years and still here. I watch a lady with a Gucci bag and new car buy a ton of stupid shit and her fat ass pulls out the welfare card. Food is GARBAGE.. except for one restaurant on the west coast, you basically go in, sit, waiter comes over after 10 minutes, order, sit more. NO bread no salad NOTHING on the table because they are cheap as f@ck. Wait an hour, out comes your rice that was plated in an upside down bowl to look modern, your strip of flavorless meat and plantains to fill you up because they gave you a rip off peice of meat. Oh and always a half a slice of tomatoe and some lettuce with zero dressing because again that would cost money..Then another 20 minutes late they come with the astronimcal bill for your flavorless, boring food. Also, NEVER correct the server or ask for anything additonal because ricans are never wrong and you will get a shit ton of attitude. Your mayo ketchup (its like gold here and served with everything) comes in a small plastic container even in high end restaurants. Never enough, so you have to ask for more. They wont give you the bottle on the table because they fear people would over use it and thus, that cost them more precious pennies. Not worth going out anywhere. The bars have ZERO women in them and if so, they are fat as fuck from all the fried food they eat or from there 4 babies at 16 yrs old. Don’t believe me? Type in yelp 10 ten resturants in ANY town here and we will go to them all. GUARANTEE all the SAME SHIT.. Not worth it and I can’t wait until my contract is up. Ricans feel superiror to Dominicans, haha what a joke. D.R. is 10x better from food, to nightlife to value.. Dump Welfare island now.. OH , and they are like 100% racist here. THEY DO NOT LIKE WHITE PEOPLE, just your money. Believe me, I know. Only 10% of the island wants to be like the states and enjoy a modern culture and have any sign of brain function. the other 90% suffer from a massive identity crisis. Are we american? Are we Puerto Rican?> F the white man, we know that, but we need their welfare, but we are brown. AHHHh Spoiled identity crisis brats.. No joke I could go on forever.

  15. Steve
    March 10, 2018

    Coming from NYC, and being much of a foody, I have to agree with you. Really, how much rice and beans can you eat? What gets me the most is the lack of diversification. I moved here, and mainly because of the food I am leaving. The town of Joyuda on the West Coast boasts of some of the finest cuisine available. There is restaurant after restaurant on this strip of 102, but every single menu is the same! I am so tired of mofongo, rice and beans, and fried pork. Shopping in the grocery stores is another challenge. Sure, you can get rice, beans, frozen platanos and yuca, but try looking for something more inviting. I will never buy another bottle of wine here. Everyone I have had, I literally had to pour down the drain for being corked or just plain bad. The only diversification in cuisine is fast food, which I detest.
    Yes, there are a few restaurants in town that do have a more palatable menu offering things like, tuna tartare and fresh catch of the day which is pretty good. There big thing at every small establishment is there almuerzo or lunch menu. But it is always the same, every day! Rice and beans, fried or sweet bananas, and usually a choice of pork or chicken. When i say everyday, I mean every day! The locals attitude towards food has a lot to be desired for also. They can’t understand why someone would pay more for good cuisine when they can get their almuerzo for 5 dollars. Their attitude toward tipping is just the same. They don’t feel like they have to tip, because it makes the price of cheap lunch cost more!

    Coming here for vacation and having local cuisine can be enjoyable and different, but living here full time is a test. I have come to detest the food here and the people that prepare it. I have a culinary degree and to hear them refer to themselves as cocineros, or chefs , literally makes me laugh! They are no better than one would find in some wood shack , back in the mountains. They really boast about it and are very prideful! One place locally serves fried chicken over fried plaintains and thinks he is a world class chef. When I asked him about other types of cuisines, totally clueless. What a narrow minded culinary world they live in.

    Needless to say, I have come to hate the food here. It’s boring, mundane, and just horrible. When I mention to them about eating duck, or some fine french cuisine they look at me like I’m crazy. I thank God I grew up in NYC.

    For a place that thinks Coor’s Light is the best beer in the world, well I need say no more.

    • Steve
      March 10, 2018

      I keep thinking of more and more horrible food items here. One local place, the owner of which I am good friends with, offers a stuffed hamburger, or Hamburger relleno as they call it. I don’t know about you , but stuffing my hamburger with jelly or sweet bananas is just downright awful. I offered my services to broaden their menu, but was turned down. But guess what’s on the menu? Yes, Rice and beans!!!!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 15, 2018

      I was really surprised at the lack of seafood dishes. THey’re literally surrounded by oceans full of fish and the best they could come up with is fried.

  16. Steve
    March 10, 2018

    I forgot to mention. Don’t ever try their spaghetti with meat sauce. I don’t know what they put in it, but it is the most disgusting thing in the world.

  17. Lok
    June 6, 2018

    All puerto rican food sucks.Ive had it at multiple places and its the most underwhelming garbage ive eaten.Never again.

  18. Anonymous
    July 16, 2018

    yes all PR food sucks. i have lived in puerto rico for six months now. and eaten all over the island. The people there have absolutely no idea how to use spices. and their cooking techniques are no good. its either fried or mashed. The people are so sensitive too. they love to brag about their great cuisine. more puerto ricans live in the states than on the island. you would think someone would call home and tell the rest of them… “hey our food sucks, we need to change this or no one will visit us” and that’s the other thing they hate gringos. but are more than happy to maintain shallow friendships if they think they will get something out of you….. i am seriously thinking about going to USVI even if i have to pay more in taxes there. because Puerto Rico straight up sucks. oh the beaches also suck. more trash than a phish lot. i see everyday shitty people throwing beer cans in the sand when there is a garbage can ten feet from them. i have traveled a lot, and even lived in east africa in a remote village for a year. and i have to say the people of puerto rico are lazy. and have no standards. I have become racist since i moved there. first month was amazing because i was naive, and i liked that i could run red lights and drink beers openly….. maybe if native puerto ricans weren’t such ass holes to white people. especially when i pay your god damn rent in tips while locals don’t tip one another. your shitty island would be better off. FUCK puerto rico. if i live there again next year i will seclude myself and live in a resort with respectful people. no more trying to integrate. oh and your Spanish sucks. worst and dirtiest spanish in the world. only puerto ricans could ruined a romance language…. ok this was harsh but i needed to get it off my chest. now back to pr where all my friends are coke heads and alcoholics who are only my friend because they think i will make them rich someday. fucking ass holes. ps. the time i have lived there i would have made more money collecting federal welfare than with my line of work. these people are shit scum. with the exception of a few great people. who all say the same thing i am. puerto ricans either say the island is great and everything is great. or they tell you be careful the truth is everything is shitty. who is right?

    • Anonymous
      November 9, 2020

      holy shit you dont need to be racist. wtf we do to you?? LMAO

  19. Kate
    August 14, 2018

    I have lived in PR and now in fla and PR food is bland and all taste the same. Pernil is rarely moist (they overcook every type of meat. They don’t know how to eat anything NOT WELL DONE) their different rices are mushy yet almost dry. And mofongo? Tastes like cardboard covered in garlic sauce. No thank you. It’s all bad.

  20. Max D
    August 14, 2018

    I’ve been living offline for months now, and recently decided to check an old email I never deactivated. It’s the email I used when commenting on this blog. So it’s been months, maybe even a year, since I’ve received notices about FWH comments. And boy, have I been missing out! The hatred, the vitriol! Really, everybody just calm down. If you don’t like Puerto Rican food, the island has a jillion KFCs, Subways, Wendy’s, etc. What strikes me is the impatience and arrogance and ignorance. And the callousness, really. It’s not as if the island went through a massive drought in 2015 (I was there!), or a never-ending economic clusterf*ck that was the result of years of back room deals between vulture capitalists and corrupt politicians, or not one but two hurricanes in 2016 that have left the island crippled and exposed to further economic and natural disasters. None of that matters because some whiny person can’t find good mofongo?

    So whatever. Good food is hard to find if you look in the wrong places. The right place for me, of course, is my mother’s kitchen. But my mother’s kitchen—along with other parts of the house—for wrecked by Hurricane María. I was in PR just a week ago and found delicious fresh-off-the-ocean seafood. I found places that serve great rice and beans, and yes, great modongo. But I have the help of insiders. Most visitors have to rely on tourist traps. I don’t know why.
    Next time you’re there, try Kasalta and Casa España. They’re not high end places but you’ll get a great Cuban sandwich, amazing baked goods, Spanish wines, etc.
    So finally, I agree: a lot of places that serve PRican food just plain suck. A lot. I’ve yet to encounter a place that uses decent tomatoes. There’s a long history of crappy places to eat there. I’m sorry if your food experience has been that bad. But you can make yourself more credible by toning down the righteous rhetoric and by remembering that PRicans have been given a pretty raw political, economic, and environmental deal. That’s including those in the food industry: farmers, ranchers, distributors, truck drivers, restaurant and grocery store owners, wait staff, check out line clerks, and so on and on.
    And Mr FWH, I will take that bottle of Pinot.

    • Max D
      August 14, 2018

      PS I didn’t bother to reread my post to edit my typos. My apologies. A serious breach of etiquette considering what I do for a living.

  21. Couldn't_Not_Reply
    November 1, 2018

    What you guys are lacking is perspective. You guys are describing something true of any place that’s not a thriving metropolis full of international cuisine …..or bursting at the seam with professionally trained chefs. I’ve lived in rural America for the past ten years. In the Southwest, it was rice, beans, and chile everywhere I visited. In the Midwest, it’s burgers, sandwiches, and soup everywhere I visit. I received plenty of bad recommendations that lead me to overpriced restaurants serving ordinary food. Someone once recommended Leann Chin as a place to get authentic Chinese cuisine! I’d never heard of it and I come to learn it’s basically Panda Express. Damn it, I was angry hahaha I asked someone for a recommendation, they obliged, I disagreed. If I elevate a recommendation from a local, to the level of professional food critic, that’s on me.

    I certainly agree, Puerto Rican cuisine isn’t the best on Earth. After having been exposed to Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, nothing quite measures up. I do genuinely enjoy eating those Puerto Rican “almuerzos” at hole-in-the-wall joints, though. It’s good food ….and we looooove rice and beans hahaha I really do wish less food was served in styrofoam, though. I hate the stuff. Some alternative needs to flood that market on the island.

    There is a lot of anger in some replies here. Also a lot of misinformation …..and I can’t believe where it went considering you’re replying to someone’s take on food. Went from cuisine sucks to “f-bombs” and all Puerto Ricans are welfare queens that hate Americans. It’s true these days it seems every conversation teeters on becoming political and by natural progression angry and hateful, full of confusion and misunderstanding.

    We don’t all want you off the island, just like not all Americans want foreigners out of the US. I am sorry you had terrible run-ins with rude people. However, that’s not unique to the island of Puerto Rico. I get plenty of bad service at overpriced restaurants in the states. I also get plenty of bad treatment generally from people who are just mean and disrespectful. I’m not about to go around denouncing Americans as the worse people on Earth. Small-mindedness and ignorance is ubiquitous and a part of the human condition. Accept that, learn to cope, and your life may be a little brighter. Your food may even taste a little better. Good luck!

    Thanks to the author’s honest opinion! It always hurts to hear someone doesn’t like something Puerto Rico has to offer, but it’s also good to hear. Keeps my pride in check haha

  22. Destiny
    February 14, 2019

    I had the same experience the food sucked ass dick and balls. All the food I tried was unseasoned and I had to force myself to eat it. It seems as if there is a scarcity on salt when there is saltwater everywhere I sure wish I would have seen this before traveling. I would have packed my own food.

  23. SS
    March 16, 2019

    BEAUTIFUL LOCATION Puerto Rico. But the food: like most restaurants we’ve tried on the island, same ol same ol menu: boring. Meat, meat, meat, fish, fish, fish, dairy, dairy, dairy, gluten, gluten, gluten and fried, fried, fried. Basically guaranteed cancer and a heart attack rolled into one. Does Puerto Rico not know what vegetables are? They’re so rare and scarce. Fruit too. I mean besides crappy frozen French fries and plantains. Only non animal food on any menu is crap (frozen) French fries and plantains, kid you not. Or gluten. Not even is there a salad on any menu that isn’t smothered in meat and dairy. What’s the life expectancy on this island? All the entire cuisine gave me a stomach ache. Beautiful location but the food, like all the restaurants, same ol boring unimaginative menu of unhealthy foods. They’re all listed as: pork. Chicken. Fish. No real explanation of how they’re prepared. 10 times out of ten times they’re fried, bland and boring. Seriously consistently throughout the island the worst food I’ve ever had worldwide. Worst food I’ve ever had anywhere in the world ever anywhere and I’ve travelled many many places. It’s seriously hard to wrap ones head around it that it could be that bad but it is, consistently.

  24. Kmw
    April 25, 2019

    No you are right, the cuisine just flat out sucks. The jones act and the fda made sure of that. There is no way the island can afford to source good ingredients. Its sad because its a lovely island. The food is downright terrible.

  25. Raven
    May 14, 2019

    I agree with everything! I haven’t had the pork yet. I was just talking to my boyfriend about how disappointing the food here is. I tried everything you listed above and more. The only decent dish I had so far was curry shrimp and rice in a pineapple. It was decent. Not great. I’ll be going to the grocery store and cooking from now until the end of our trip.

    • Max D
      August 16, 2019

      this isn’t just a reply to the person above, but a general comment or two on the last few comments.

      So I don’t use the email account I first linked with the FWH, so I rarely get a heads-up about comments, unless I go out o my way to look at my old inbox. In any case, I see a posted comment every so often, and now, as summer is almost over and my summer travels are essentially done, I thought I’d add a final (final for me) thought or two.

      I last commented here about four years ago. That’s a long lifetime for this post. I was born and raised in PR but I’m not here to defend the food. Both the New York Times and Food and Wine magazine (among others) had articles about PR and its food, and gave tips on where to find great eats. But the fact remains that the odds are against the tourist. I don’t know why it is. I was last there last summer and the best food I ate (other than my mother’s) was at a restaurant in Rincon (sorry, forgot the name). In the town of Boqueron we found darn tasty street food. Other than that, forget it. Like I said, I don’t know why it’s so hard to find a good restaurant.

      Having said that, this summer I did an unusual amount of traveling. In May I went to New York City. I’ve been there before so I kew where to go, but there were times we decided to venture into unknown territory. And yes, we found crappy food even in the upper west side. In July I went to the LA area, and again, the best meal we had was at my brother’s house. We found a restaurant in Malibu that was just awful, just awful. Another at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains (beautiful scenery, jaw-dropping beauty) was just so-so. Same thing at Seal Beach. There are awesome places to eat in both in NYC and LA, but there are as many crappy or mediocre places too.

      Finally, we just got back from England and France this month. Awesome food at the restaurant that’s connected to the Globe Theater, we found a great Lebanese place near Paddington Station, and the restaurant at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel served more than satisfying (and more than expensive) food, but you guessed it, we encountered mediocre beer and food in places too, like near Convent Garden. Same thing in Paris and later in the small town of Amboise on the Loire.

      The point is, PR is no different than any other place in the planet: by law of averages most restaurants are gonna be. . . average. If a place is a tourist destination, it’s gonna have average and over-priced food. And there’s gonna be tourist trap shitty places everywhere. But there’s gonna be amazing places too, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find (or more likely, be told about) amazing places at great prices.

      For the record, when we were in Amboise, we went to a bunch of restaurants, cafes, etc. Our best meal was the dinner we had at our gîte, after going to the farmer’s market and buying trout and gambas and a few herbs from the area and simply cooking them with butter or olive oil. With fresh vegetable salad and the cheap local wine. We scored in Paris too: local market then picnic at Luxembourg Gardens.

      Yesterday we were in Detroit at Green Dot Stables. Great place, Sliders. Guess what? Some were awesome, and some were awful.

      And that was just this summer. I’ve had great and shitty food in Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Rome, Havana, etc etc. One of my kids says he had the best burger of his life at the Phoenix airport. You just never know.

      So I’m not gonna say quit hatin’ on PR, but hey, quit hatin’ on PR and be humble enough to realize that you don’t have a radar that spots great food everywhere, nor is your hometown the birthplace of food deliciousness. The odds of the traveler are always against him/her.

      So chillax everyone, and when you go anywhere, especially PR, just go with the flow. If you can’t find good food, prep your own. In PR, go to the Plaza del Mercado in Santurce or any local market and make your own delicious picnic.

  26. Anonymous
    December 12, 2019

    I’m in Puerto Rico now and thought I was nuts. Not one meal has impressed me. The best thing I’ve had is an açaí bowl and “Mexican”. Mofongo is a no-go. And all the food seems to need more richness. Puerto Rico doesn’t seem to have any richness in seasoning, I’ve considered bring my own next time.

  27. Armando
    January 8, 2020

    Food in Puerto Rico has taken a nosedive in the last 20 years. It reflects the people. Most Puerto RIcans that have their act together have left the island. What you see are mostly uneducated and in many cases illiterate people that don’t have a clue as to what the rest of the world offers. It is a pity. They are fairly ignorant and incompetent. This reflects in everything around the island: the government, the music, the electricity and other infrastructure.

    I went to the island in 2018. Even though I was born and raised in the island, I never had mofongo. It was just a side dish of little importance. Now it is the main national dish. This again is a reflection of the people that are left on the island. Mofongo has no taste and definitely not appetizing. Puerto Rican food from 20 years ago was much better.

    When I grew up, plena was a type of music that was almost extinct. It was still played by a few rural people in the south part of the island. Now it has taken over as the national dance. It is just a constant noisy rhythm that comes from cheap drums.

    Puerto Rican food is just plain not good and unhealthy. It is almost all starchy and/or fried. Salads are just no longer part of the cuisine. Fruits are non-existent from a typical dish. I went to a seafood restaurant on the southern coast in a town called Salinas. The Caribbean was only a foot away from my feet. Yet, they only had fish that came from the Mediteranean. Pork is heavily consumed and is cheap and tasty. Yet, it is very high in cholesterol.

    Puerto Rico has a very high rate of diabetes and cancer. In fact, almost everyone I know from the island gets cancer. Food is definitely the culprit but the people there don’t recognize this.

  28. Kiki Lopez
    March 7, 2020

    Mofongo is prepared many different ways; with shrimp, chicken, fried pork, roasted pork. The way you had it was as a side dish, but it is typically stuffed with one of the proteins above and then drenched in flavorful sauce. Puerto Rican food is not flavorless—if anything, it probably has too much flavor because a lot of it is fried or heavily seasoned. I think your blanket statement is based on a tourist’s limited perspective.

  29. Anonymous
    July 23, 2020

    Yep. Its all terrible! Dont tell that to a Puerto Rican tho! I was there for 9 months and the top moment was when a guy asked me, “How are you doing here? Can you handle all the spices we use?”. ……. I had to bit my lip just to not burst out laughing!

    • Rice81
      July 23, 2020

      PuertoRican cuisine has changed a lot since I was a kid reflecting the economic down turn of the island. The regular food used to be tastier, better prepared and healthier. Like some commented, mofongo was just a side dish and which not everyone had as part of the meal. Now it seems to be the main course. The reason is because it is very cheap and simple to make. They think that adding some meat makes it better.
      As a kid, fish in restaurants was fresh and prepared very nicely. I was at a restaurant in the south side of the island a few years ago excited to eat what always remembered to be a great broiled grouper dish. My chair was about 2 feet from the Caribbean. The waiter informed us that their best fish came from the Mediterranean. They had no local fish. So why bother?

      The typical PuertoRican dish has now devolved into a plantain mush called mofongo, smashed plantains called tostones, and some meet on top typically pork. They made a wedge of avocado. That is it. It is all starchy and full of cholesterol. It isn’t healthy at all. The island is now poor and most people including cooks hardly travel and think that the food is world class when it isn’t. The cooks are poor people from the public projects and can’t cook but think they can.

  30. Rani
    March 5, 2021

    There’s a great possibility this guy who suggested this place made money off of sending you there. They also could have assumed you were. a tourist, not from the island, send them anywhere, they have money. I’d like to think seeing such a place at first, then having your first bit of food from there that you’d cancel your order and try a different please.

  31. G man
    March 15, 2021

    I have lived on the island for almost 6 months. I had an open mind to the food in Puerto Rico, it’s an island in the middle of the caribbean what can go wrong? The first qualm I have is with the price of food here, restaurant or super market. Everything is expensive, compared to the states. Also the lack of Seafood is so perplexing it hurts my brain to even think about. Any dish made in PR that is not puerto rican cuisine is actually decent. Not great by any means, Pizza is all over the place even more so than “Criollo” food. The arroz con gandules is actually a nice rice dish and plantains in itself aren’t bad. It’s the main dishes that give me a problem, mofongo is terribly overrated, anything fried is the same anywhere else in the world just under seasoned. They’re main season of choice is salt and garlic and tomato? Sazon and sofrito are constant in most dishes, and all dishes have the same profile. There is no diversity in ingredients and seasonings. The best dish I’ve had so far is the roast chicken and the pastries. The pastries are decent if you can find a good panaderia, but the lack of butter used is a problem. The chicken is good but compared to other chicken dishes such as Jerk chicken is light years ahead. I could mention many other complaints with the cuisine here, which is sad because this part of the world has produced such good food. If I had put PR on a latin foods tier list they would have to go straight to the bottom. I can’t wait to get off of this island and actually have a good meal not from my own kitchen.

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This entry was posted on September 23, 2015 by in Dining, Travel and tagged , , , , .
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