Puerto Rico is such a beautiful place and the people are warm and friendly.  I was excited for my first visit to this amazing island in the Caribbean, for the gorgeous beaches and to try the food.  Chicago has a pretty good size population of Puerto Ricans and even has a Puerto Rican neighborhood, Humboldt Park.  While I’ve tried Puerto Rican food in Chicago, I was eager to try the food in Puerto Rico.  Not only does Puerto Rican cuisine have influences from Spain, but also Africa, and the native Tainos.  Here are 5 things to eat and drink in Puerto Rico that I enjoyed during my stay.

2 mojitos with limes and mint sprigs

1. Mofongo

One of the first things to eat in Puerto Rico is mofongo.  Made with plantains as one of the main ingredients, this is a traditional Puerto Rican dish.  First, the plantains are picked green, then fried, and lastly mashed with salt, garlic, and oil.  As a result, the mashed plantains absorb the flavors that are added.  Additionally, other ingredients such as bacon or pork cracklings add flavor.  And, it is traditionally served with chicken broth and fried meat, but you may find variations that may include vegetables, shrimp, chicken, beef, or octopus packed inside and on top of the mashed plantains.  While in Puerto Rico, I had the version with a grilled skirt steak at the restaurant, Raices, in Old San Juan, which was delicious! You can learn more about Old San Juan in 6 Things to Do in Puerto Rico!

5 things to eat and drink in Puerto Rico, Delicious mofongo

Delicious mofongo at Raices in San Juan


2. Arroz Con Gandules

Things to eat in Puerto Rico, arroz con gandules

arroz con gandules, a traditional Puerto Rican dish

A second Puerto Rican food to eat is another national dish, arroz con gandules or rice with pigeon peas.  Arroz con gandules is often served with pork.  Also, sofrito and annatto oil is added for flavor and also adds color to the rice.  Sofrito is a blend of green cubanelle peppers, plum tomato, roasted pimiento pepper, cilantro, Spanish onions, culantro (a stronger version of cilantro), and garlic.  And, it is the base of many Puerto Rican dishes to add flavor.


 3. Plantains

ceviche with tostones in Puerto Rico

Ceviche with tostones

In Puerto Rican and Caribbean cuisine, plantains are commonly used.  Plantains are a savory banana that is cooked.  As mentioned previously, it is part of the dish, mofongo.  Or, it can also be served fried as an appetizer or side dish, which is called tostones.  Tostones were served with our ceviche at one restaurant and it was the perfect accompaniment. Ceviche is a delicious dish made with a variety of seafood, which is also a nutrient-dense food!

In addition, another way to prepare plantains is called Maduros, which are made with ripe plantains and are then fried.


4. Pina Colada

Puerto Rico is the birthplace of the Pina Colada.  The ingredients in the Pina Colada are rum, coconut cream, heavy cream, pineapple juice, and ice.  Then, these ingredients are blended together.  Two places in Puerto Rico have claimed to have created this popular drink: the Caribe Hilton in 1954, (Caribe Hilton recipe here) and Barrachina Restaurant in Old San Juan in 1963.

Things to eat and drink in Puerto Rico, the popular pina colada

Pina Colada, first created in Puerto Rico


5. Mojito

Mojito, a rum based drink

Refreshing mojito

Lastly, the mojito, which is traditionally a Cuban drink, but it is a popular drink in Puerto Rico,  as well. One of the main ingredients is rum, and it happens to be one of my favorite rum drinks.  It’s one of the drinks you learn how to make at the Bacardi Rum Distillery if you sign up for the Mixology tour.  This drink is refreshing on a hot day with fresh mint, lime juice, club soda, white rum, sugar, and ice. Try the Bacardi mojito recipe! 


I hope you enjoyed this post 5 Things to Eat and Drink in Puerto Rico.  And if you are looking for more information about Puerto Rico, check out 6 Things to Do in Puerto Rico!

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Dietitian, food lover, and world traveler! Veronica has been a registered dietitian for over 20 years, specializing in clinical and community nutrition. She enjoys wellness, trying new foods, and exploring the globe to learn about different cultures.

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