My May trip to Puerto Rico was centered around resort life, so truth be told, I didn’t have time to venture into old San Juan and try some street food or more traditional fare at a local haunt. That said, we soaked up rays and dined at a number of the El Conquistador Resort restaurants, starting with the more casual establishments when we arrived, which of course were known for its cocktails.
It seems like everywhere you go in Puerto Rico, cocktails are the order of the day, even at the airport. The largely outside restaurant on the main property (the resort is spread out across 500 acres) is the Cafe Bella Vista, which also appeared to be open the latest. They’re known for their pizzas but also serve grilled fish, the infamous Puerto Rican dish Mofungo, sandwiches, salads and burgers.
We sampled several things here, including shrimp tacos, ceviche, the delicious tomato and mozzarella salad (traditional in every way except they add avocado) and popular among locals, the Shrimp Arepa, which is served with coconut aioli with shrimp over arepa.
Fried food is popular in Puerto Rico in general, so be prepared to find a variety of “fried” options on most menus, casual and fine dining.
It should be no surprise that mojitos and coconut drinks are popular here with its abundance of coconut trees, however on the island of Palomino, a popular treat is a cocktail that merges the Mojito with the Pina Colada, with a twist. It’s simply delicious – Enuf said!
Fruit by the pool with a pina colada although I was living on margaritas for the most part, trying to stay away from the sweeter cocktails that make me elated for an hour or so but soon after, I always seem to crash.
Breakfast, oh so beautifully presented at the Ventana Del Caribe.
At the café, you can also try a Champagne Mojito, which is apparently another favorite. At the outside Ballyhoo Bar & Grill, you can choose from a selection of delicious appetizers and sandwiches such as Shrimp Cocktail or Jerked Chicken Sandwich, or order the Grilled Dorado with Mango Chutney, which I’d recommend given how fresh their fish is at the restaurants inside or outside a resort.
At the more formal Chops Steakhouse, we dove into both red and white wine since they gave us a duo dish of both fish and red meat. We either had a choice of salad with a mango vinaigrette or a Lobster Bisque, served with Maine lobster (yum!!) and Chantilly cream.
Out came the Filet Mignon and Pistachio Group, which we paired again with the Jordan Cabernet (hey, it’s a safe bet when in the Caribbean and you want a solid Cab from California). They had a number of sides to accompany it, including Cream of Spinach, Batata and Chorizo Brandade (local dish) and steamed broccoli and asparagus.
Desserts included a Signature 24 layer Chocolate cake (to die for), a New York style cheesecake and a Pina Colada Cobber.
Then there was Mofungo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish that locals crave and get excited about whenever you bring it up. It consists of Fried Plantains which are mushed up as shown below together with sea salt, garlic, chicken broth, scallions and a tad of bacon if you wish, although our dish was “sans” the bacon. The end result below (delicious!!)
Our troupe getting a lesson in Mafungo making…..
Below is a different presentation of Mafungo, which was served at the Bella Vista earlier in the week.
Ingredients used….salt, pepper, scallions, chicken broth and garlic — simple, but oh so good!
Also on site is La Piccola Fontana if you’re in the mood for Italian cuisine or Stingray Cafe where you can get stunning views of La Marina Village and dine on Caribbean infused dishes and seafood.
If Pan-Asian is where your mood is at, you can get sushi and sizzling teppanyaki, at Blossoms. The great thing about Blossoms is that we were able to dive into both sushi and barbecue fish, steak, chicken and lobster before the night was over.
They also had a cool sushi making class at the start of the night, and as such, in agony, I passed up a lovely Jordan Cabernet and opted for Chardonnay instead, a better pairing for the evening’s dinner choices. We started with miso soup of course, after of which, the sushi making began…
The roughly 18 or so of us sat around a large open grill and those interested in having a ‘go’ at “sushi making” went to center stage for instruction by one of Blossom’s chefs.
Fashion blogger Taye Hansberry shows her end result…
Fashion and lifestyle blogger Justin Levingston from Scout Sixteen also gives it a try.
Lychee’s for dessert of course, in traditional Asian style, however fresh from the Caribbean of course.
Then we switched over to traditional barbecue as the smoke came flying and the fire was ignited.
A very short video snippet of the experience:
My only regret is that I didn’t have time to sample more Puerto Rican delicacies while I was there….and the drinks were incredible! While I’m mostly a wine gal, I dove into a few of their cocktails just to get an idea of some of the local cocktail ingredients and mash-ups. Over your guava cheesecake, how about an Elderflower Daiquiri before you move onto your end of meal coffee?