Top 10 Flavors of Puerto Rico

The votes are in! All 7,536 of ’em from our Flavors of Puerto Rico Sweepstakes have lead to this: Your Top 10. Cue the drum roll, pull up a seat and join us as we count down your favorite restaurants and tastes from the island that eats.

The $20 a Day Eating Guide to Puerto Rico | Best Resort in Puerto Rico

10. Dinner at Zest, San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel

Zest, San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel

Maybe Zest’s appeal is its futuristic aquatic ambience — walls of dancing ripples, an ocean-surface ceiling. Or maybe it’s the modern Latino cuisine, where even a dish’s scent is intentional. Whatever the case, the immersive/submersive dining is a must-do, and a not so surprising voter favorite.
9. Koco, El San Juan Resort & Casino

Koco, El San Juan Resort & Casino

Calypso fish tacos, Jamaican dumplings, churrasco steak fries — we editors could indulge all day on why voters love Koco. Thoughts of the restaurant’s waterside deck seating and candlelit dining spaces just encourage more daydreaming.
8. Meat Market Miami, El San Juan Resort & Casino

Meat Market Miami, El San Juan Resort & Casino

Yes, it’s a steakhouse. But the “meat market” moniker is intentionally double-edged. Beautiful people flock here, and mingling is encouraged, whether at the restaurant’s two bars, or when ordering from the menu. It features choice cuts and fresh seafood. Our favorite combo: Wagyu skirt steak paired with a 6-ounce lobster tail and white-truffle mashed potatoes.
7. Drinks by the Pool, Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa

Coconut Cocktails, Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa

Humans can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water. No wonder hydration tastes so good, especially when it’s a poolside pina colada. In this case, served in a coconut, the very seeds of life. At the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa this taste isn’t just a voter favorite; it’s a means of survival.
6. Pionono


Deep-fried foods climb the ranks in any Islands poll. Pionono is no exception, though its secret goes beyond the fryer. Sweet plantains surround a picadillo meat filling that includes cheese. To recap, that’s seasoned meat, cheese and sweet plaintains … deep-fried. The only head-scratcher here is why pionono isn’t No. 1.
5. Mofongo


You knew it was coming. Puerto Rico’s national dish has so many variations that we editors barely recognized the mofongo pictured. Most mofongos start by mashing fried green plantains with broth, olive oil, garlic, pork cracklings and (if you’re lucky) bacon bits. Inside mofongo — yes, we’re just now getting to the inside — you may find vegetables, shrimp, chicken, crab or beef. Sometimes mofongo is served in a soup. Sometimes a stew of seafood is poured over it. And that’s all for one dish. Mofongo or multi-fongo?
4. Lechon


On paper, lechon is merely a pig roast. On Puerto Rico, it’s a national obsession that radiates from the island’s lush interior. Every Sunday, car loads of Sanjuaneros make the 40-minute drive to the green hillsides of Guavate for the crackling (brown crisp skin), the_ _defining characteristic of lechon. A taste worth the trek.
3. Pinchos


We’re down to your top three. “Pinchos” is Spanish for “spikes,” but a better translation is kabob, often of chicken, pork or seafood. Served right on the streets, they’re the island’s fastest treats. And they put our mainland chicken skewers to shame, as proven by your votes, and thanks to a marinade of adobo-and-achiote-flavored olive oil. Our advice: pull over.
2. Arepas


Arepa is a corn-based bread that’s one of Puerto Rico’s most ancient foods. An arepa rellena is the sandwich shown here, which can be filled with just about anything. These days, the best place to taste it is on Puerto Rico’s sister island of Vieques. Judging by your votes, you already know this, which leaves just one taste remaining …
1. Empanadillas
Puerto Rico’s No. 1 taste is the empanadilla. Hardly a shocker. Empanadillas are the island’s favorite beach treats, and everything tastes better at the beach — especially fillings like picadillo, chorizo, coconut, pigeon peas. Or empanadilla de pizza, seafood, lasagna. The perfect empanadilla is up to you. What surrounds it all — wheat or cassava flour dough (and lard) — is the only constant. And that’s where the magic lies. Find more magic Puerto Rico tastes here.

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