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Boricua Bites – A Personal Culinary Journey Through Puerto Rico

Boricua Bites – A Personal Culinary Journey Through Puerto Rico

As my husband and I touched down in Puerto Rico, I could feel the excitement building once again like it had for the first time when I visited in 2018. This wasn’t just a vacation; it was another chance to explore the heart and soul of his culture through the vibrant tapestry of Puerto Rican cuisine. In my husband’s hometown of Dorado, just forty-five minutes west of Old San Juan, we embarked on another culinary adventure and immersed ourselves in the flavors that defined his childhood.
Cafecito Craze
Every morning starts with “cafe con leche”. We grab ours at our favorite coffee shop in Dorado, Cuatro Sombras, which means “four shades”. The name was inspired by the Hacienda trees that protected and shaded the original harvests.
The Hacienda Santa Clara has produced Puerto Rico’s coffee beans since 1846, as well as Cuatro Sombras’ since 2011. When the doors opened to the cafe, we inhaled the dancing aroma of freshly ground Boricua coffee beans. The authenticity, richness, and smokey notes of the Hacienda coffee bean is reflected in the flavor of their exquisite espresso. Each sip filled with a bold, decadent delight that has been kissed by the tropical flavor and heritage of the island. If you cannot make it to Dorado for a Cuatro Sombras coffee, they also have another stunning location in Old San Juan!
Passion for Panaderia
After our quick trip to the cafe, we accompanied my in-laws, and made our way to one of the well renowned bakeries in San Juan, “Panadería España”. When you open the doors to the bakery, the lingering smell of freshly baked “sobao” and “pan de agua” fills the air.
My husband took the lead and ordered my favorite breakfast sandwich on the island -the sandwich de jamon, queso y huevo. For those of you who know Spanish, it’s not just any ham, egg, and cheese sandwich. The sabao bread is the star of the show – Every carbo-o-holic’s dream! As you bite in, the sweet bread melts in your mouth followed by the velvety cheese and juicy ham. I never knew a sandwich so simple could spark so many flavors on my taste buds!
Empanadillas
As we finished up our breakfast strolling through the vibrant streets of old San Juan, we made a stop at an old friend’s empanadilla stand. Empanadillas El Gordo Mal Hablao has any filling you can think of! From pizza to seafood, all the options are deep fried to perfection. These empanadillas created a great savory snack on the go so we could take in the vast beauty of the ocean view located right outside our friend’s shop.
Vamo Pa La Playa
No visit back to Puerto Rico and its cuisine is complete without mentioning the delectable Kikita Beach House in Dorado. This trendy, but timeless restaurant has been a local favorite of my family’s for several years and has never disappointed!
We are always greeted by familiar faces at the valet entrance of Kikita. As I head up the winding steps reaching the top floor, I become intrigued by the symphony of scents. First, the ocean breeze wafts past from the balcony overlooking the rocky coast, followed by the searing of lobster and the decadent scent of rich, creamy risotto.
I knew what I had just inhaled was going to be the exact thing I ordered at dinner. Kikita prides itself on their fresh and locally caught lobster.
After many well-made drinks flowing through our party of twelve, the plates of langosta fresca (lobster), mofongo (traditional green plantain dish), and Risotto con mariscos (seafood risotto) sat before us.
After the sounds of silverware clanking against our plates began to fade, the brother of the owner stopped by our table to ask how the food was. Our smiles and plates were enough evidence that they had put our taste buds in a coma!
The Final Course
In my seven years of culinary adventure on this gorgeous island of Puerto Rico, I have tried to encapsulate the gems of where the locals love to dine. There are so many combinations of delicacies on the island that are the perfect addition to anyone’s itinerary.
From the warm lattes passed down through generations to a perfect meal overlooking the rocky coast at Kikita Beach House, this specific experience is unmatched. The flavors are bold, the aromas intoxicating, and the experience unforgettable.
Puerto Rican cuisine is not just about food; it’s a celebration of life, love, and the joyous moments shared around the table.
So, if you ever find yourself on the enchanting island of Puerto Rico, be sure to add these to your itinerary if you wish to tantalize your taste buds and leave you with a profound appreciation to eat like a local!

Written by Sydney Roberson

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