I don’t often go out for breakfast, and even less so when I’m on vacation, but Rincon was different. For one, the free breakfast offered by our hotel was slightly less than terrible and for two, there was a breakfast spot known to be one of the best overall restaurants in Rincon. Thus, we made our way up to the top of a very scary hill to breakfast it up at The English Rose.
For my last night in Puerto Rico, I wanted to eat something that would leave a lasting impression on my stomach. Thus, I put out a search for the best mofongo in Rincon. This pointed us to a pretty fancy place that only seemed to be for tourists, but it also pointed us to Rincon Tropical, a place that seemed much more local.
Rincon is kind of Puerto Rico’s surfing haven and no beach exemplifies this better than Maria’s Beach. Unfortunately, I have never surfed and was not about to try here, but I was interested in trying some food at Calypso Cafe, a place that seemed to embody the entire vibe of the beach.
As we made our way across the entire island of Puerto Rico toward Rincon, we realized we would be arriving a bit later (because the island is filled with “highways” with stoplights every mile or so) than normal dinner time on a Sunday. This was concerning because we needed food and thought we might have trouble finding a place. Fortunately, La Cambija was open until 9:00 and we arrived at 8:30.
While riding our scooters back to Isabel in Vieques, we couldn’t help but be stopped by some street food. The street food in this case turned out to be Pinchos, which is basically a Spanish word for skewer-grilled meat. Or, at least that’s what it means in Puerto Rico.
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.
Being a part of the Caribbean, it’s kind of unsurprising that Puerto Rico has a wide variety of Mexican food. Nonetheless, it was pretty surprising how many time we were recommended Lolita’s somewhere between Fajardo and Luquillo. And apparently it wasn’t exactly a secret spot, because the parking lot was filled beyond capacity and there was a line out the door. Fortunately, that line and the people in the restaurant all appeared to be locals and not gringos like us.
It all began with a quick stop for some Medalla Light beers and some appetizers, but after taking a look at the menu and seeing the food our fellow customers were eating, it became apparent that Bananas in Esperanza would become our dinner that night in Vieques. Bananas, like Duffy’s from the night before, is kind of like a beach bar with mainland American influence.
A few miles off of the coast of mainland Puerto Rico is Vieques Island. It’s reasonably small, but still supports a couple of towns, one of which is Esperanza, which caters to tourists a bit more than elsewhere. It was there that we found Duffy’s, a bar and grill with food you could probably find anywhere in the rest of the US, but with a distinct island vibe to it.
Puerto Rico has its fair share of fast food chains, including probably more Church’s Chickens than I have ever seen. But one thing that I had never seen before was Pollo Tropical. Pollo Tropical does appear to have locations in the mainland United States, but I had never seen it before stopping in Fajardo.