When I first wandered on the streets of Old San Juan Puerto Rico, I visited the famous sites in the city and that walking tour definitely made me hungry. Good thing I have passed by some place where I can find local Puerto Rican street food. But I would have to suppress my appetite for Puerto Rican street food until our next call.
Yes, my time that day was up yet again but at least I can say that there’s always a next time. One of the perks of my job. 🙂
Fast forward to “next time”.
I headed to Calle Comercio located just a few steps away from the port. On this street is where most of the food trucks were parked. There were hotdog and burger stands, tropical fruit juices, various snacks and what have you. It’s local Puerto Rican street food fiesta from end to end of this stretch.
Limonada Native Snacks
It’s pretty straight forward, they are serving freshly-squeezed lemonade and some native snacks. This food truck is like The Puerto Rican street food icon. People queue up and don’t mind waiting just to get a taste of their snacks. I ordered their beef empanadillas and lemonade. And did I say that they are serving freshly-squeezed lemonades? Yes, they made it ala minute, right in front of me.
After getting my order, I sat on a nearby bench to sample the empanada. The flavorful flaky dough was filled with ample amount of savory tender ground beef. For its price of $2.50, it’s a pretty good deal.
Their menu, with a tag line “A Must Have Local Treat”, includes some of the local’s favorite deep-fried goodness.
Bacalaitos (Ba-ca-la-e-tos) – Cod Fish Fritters, Ground Cod Fish dredged in flour and some spices.
Alcapurrias – Special blend of ground cassava, yautia (taro) and green banana filled with beef or crab
Empanadillas – Turnovers, take your pick among pizza, beef or chicken
Pastelillos Gourmet – Gourmet Turnovers of beef with double cheese
Rellenos de Papa – Stuffed Potatoes filled with beef
Pianono – Ripe plantain filled with beef covered in Bacalaito mix
Sorullitos – Sweet corn meal filled with cheese
Tripletas de Rafa
Not too far away from where I was seated I saw another food truck that serves hotdogs and burgers. I went there to check it out. Something was cooking on the griddle. There was a generous amount of meat tossed with some onions. I asked the couple who were waiting if that was their order and what was it called. They said that it is the Tripletas so I asked the staff that I want the same.
Tripletas is a Puerto Rican sandwich made with three types of meats. It is a combination of roasted pork, cube steak and boiled ham topped with cabbage, Swiss Cheese and potato sticks on a loaf of French Bread. It’s an ultimate meat lover’s treat, one serving for $7.50 is good enough for two to share. But if you have a big appetite like me, sharing is next to impossible. 🙂 It’s so massive that eating it can get really messy.
Piragua is a Puerto Rican dessert made of shaved ice covered with syrup of different fruit flavors. It is almost same as the snow cone of the U.S. except that it has a pointy tip instead of a round shape. In almost every street of Old San Juan you can find one of these vibrant mobile carts. I saw one on my way to El Morro Park and I found myself lining up to get one too. In every sip of the sweet strawberry flavored, icy-cold indulgence, I was transported back in time to my childhood days.
It’s just not the sights and scenes that are a must-see in Old San Juan Puerto Rico but the local street food as well.
What better way to learn about a place but through food, right? But not just the fancy food, street foods are definitely a must-try in any place that you go to. Simply because, it’s affordable, accessible, convenient, you can carry it around as you continue on exploring the locale. Street food also gives you an idea about the character of one place.
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How about you? Have you tried Puerto Rican street food or any street food on your trips? What was your favorite? How was your experience? Share your thoughts.