While staying at an Airbnb (in Fajardo) for the first time, I felt there would be no better way then to get a food recommendation than by asking our hosts. While we had a panaderia from Yelp in mind, they pointed us to a place called El Meson, which we were told had great sandwiches for breakfast or otherwise. When we walked in, the first thing my buddy said was that it looked like a Puerto Rican Panera Bread. This was hardly a compliment, but the place was pretty crowded so we figured we should give it a shot.
After a long look at the menu, I ordered Argentino, a sandwich filled with roast beef, a chimichurri and swiss cheese. Then, since it was breakfast, I also ordered some hash browns to go with it. It was ready relatively quickly and looked relatively…not good at all. The roast beef was kind of what you might expect from Arby’s, with very little texture or flavor, and sliced oh so thin. The swiss cheese tasted like swiss cheese and the chimichurri didn’t offer a whole lot of flavor because it was overpowered by mayo. And that doesn’t even get into the fact that the sandwich was half-filled with vegetables that I had previously been unaware of. The bread was actually pretty fine, but good bread can’t exactly overcome bad fillings.
The hash browns were kind of like those you would get at McDonald’s, but smaller. I expected this, so I wasn’t disappointed, however I would have been if this had been a panaderia instead.
Perhaps the most frustrating part about eating at El Meson was the fact that we continued to see the place everywhere as we drove around the main island of Puerto Rico. Chains like this are all good if we had been in a rush, but for a meal like this we really would have preferred some actual local flavor, no matter how popular it is.