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Puerto Rico's dining is so amazing that some people visit the country to tour its finest dining locations. Try some of the Nuevo Latino, traditional críolla, or international cuisines - whatever suits your taste on this island, where top-notch dining is just steps away.
Puerto Rico has created a Mesones Gastronomicos program, with 30 restaurants island wide participating. Participating restaurants offer local dishes at the best value. Sponsored by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, the program is designed to ensure travelers sample some of Puerto Rico's finest.
For those looking for fine dining, there's plenty to be found. Upscale restaurants abound, especially in and around Old San Juan. At these establishments, you can taste international foods of all styles, from Chinese to Italian, and everything in between. You're sure to be able to find some comida críolla at smaller restaurants as well, since Puerto Rico has plenty to be proud of in its traditional fare.
When planning for a night out, be sure to dress appropriately. Puerto Rico's most upscale restaurants are usually black tie, but calling ahead is probably a good idea if you're unsure of the dress code. In the off-season less popular places probably won't require a reservation, but it's best to plan ahead.
"Comida críolla" simply means Creole food, but in this case they don't mean Cajun. "Creole" means something local to Puerto Rico, or born on the island, as this style of cooking was. It combines elements of traditional Taíno foods, as well as many international influences - especially those of the island's Spanish colonizers, and African slaves. What trip to the Caribbean is complete without some traditional island fare?
When dining in Puerto Rico, lunch and supper usually begin with appetizers such as empandillas (turnovers stuffed with meat), rellenos de papa (fried mashed potato balls stuffed with meat), and bacalaitos (fried cod fritters). Soups such as sopo de pescado (fish soup flavored with garlic, tomatoes, spices, onions, sherry, and vinegar), sopon de pollo con arroz (chicken and rice soup with pumpkin and potatoes) are served as starters, and then comes the main course. These dishes vary greatly from roasted to stewed meats and fresh caught seafood, along with sides such as mashed green plantains, and rice and beans. Dessert choices include flan and coconut cake.
...over 20 different types of rum produced...
Coffee and rum are the leading beverages in Puerto Rico. Coffee is is particularly strong and served at the end of each meal. Cafe con leche, is a hot drink made of strong coffee mixed with scalded milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt Rum, meanwhile, is Puerto Rico's top export, with 80 percent of the world's rum coming from the island. There are over 20 different types of rum produced in Puerto Rico, and locals enjoy a good drink as much as visitors. Beer is another choice for those looking for something with a little alcohol in it, as are a number of fruity cocktails. For a non-alcoholic refresher, look towards fresh fruit juices, sodas, and water, which is clean and safe to drink directly from the tap.
Whatever pleases your palate and wallet, be sure to taste something new in one of Puerto Rico's many restaurants. And, of course, ¡Buen provecho!, enjoy your meal.
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