On The Road: The Luquillo Kioskos

Well, I've been pretty negligent about updating this blog. Let me explain, right around the time the posts started falling off, I started travelling for work. Like a lot. TripIt tells me it was almost 150k miles. As you can imagine, that doesn't leave me much time to blog, but more importantly, it didn't leave me much time to eat meals at home. But, I really miss blogging and I realized, why don't I blog about some of the interesting things I eat while on the road. Yes, sometimes it's just lots of fast food. But no matter where I go from Rome to Salt Lake City, I try to eat something unique and interesting. I'm going to start documenting this under a new "On the road" section of the blog. First up, a trip I actually took for FUN (shocking): Puerto Rico.

We spent a few days in Old San Juan (and actually had our best meal at a breakfast place called Caficultura, I highly recommend the sweet potato crepes), but I want to tell you about is the food in a little beach town called Luquillo. I have to admit, I did pick Luquillo because it is home to the famous Luquillo Kioskos-- a strip just off the beach about a half-mile long jammed with about 50 or so food stands (or kiosks) with fare ranging from traditional fried Puerto Rican (more on this in a moment) and American (i.e., hot dogs) street food to pretty nice sit down restaurants with wait staff serving food from all over the world.
My pictures of the kiosks aren't so great, so I admit I had to steal some by other people so you get the idea.
Since we were staying in a lovely little hotel about a half mile walk down the beach from the kioskos, we spent a good deal of time on this little strip. It was also a perfect place to escape to and drink rum during the few short rain showers that drove us off the beach!

Despite the humble appearance of the kiosks, we had some world class food in these shacks.About half of the kiosks are defined by the large glass cases of fried goodies (which we obliged to sample all different types) include bacalaitos (imagine a giant chip, crispy, and made with salt cod), alcapurrias (meat dumplings in a masa dough), empanadillas, arepas, pastelillos, sorullos (cornmeal breaded fried cheese sticks that are slightly sweet), and SO much more.Wash it all down with coco frio (a cold coconut with a hole for a straw in it to drink the water) or mavi (or mauby, a homemade soda sort of like birch beer).
Fried food case
I enjoy a coco frio
Ok, we ate more than just fried food at the kiosks, we enjoyed several fine meals worth noting at kiosks with waitstaff. Some of the best meals were at La Parilla, Ay Bonito! Grill, Vejigante, and Ceviche Hut.
Ay Bonito! Grill is a fresh seafood place that is really the antithesis of all the fried food places around it. I don't even remember seeing anything fried on the menu--the traditional tostones, or fried green plantains at Ay Bonito are served mashed. I got halibut with hazelnuts and cilantro served with a local root vegetable mash. 

Our last night in Puerto Rico, Tucker and I went to Vejigante and really indulged. We started with fried local cheese (see above) and then shared an entire deep fried fish (picture has mysteriously disappeared from my phone, I'm investigating) with a creole sauce and tostones. Paired with several mojitos, this was a good way to go out.

La Parilla seems to be the favorite kiosk for many locals, and I don't blame them. Tucker says his grilled and stuffed spiny lobster (above) was the highlight of the trip. The kiosk is the only one with a tank of live lobsters out front, you pick your prey and they grill it up. I got mofongo (a traditional Puerto Rican mash of plantains and casava) stuffed with churrasco. We ate a lot of mofongo on this trip, but La Parilla far and away had the best.

Yes, we ate raw fish from a place with "hut" in the name. In our defense, Ceviche Hut is one of the nicest kiosks on the strip AND the ceviche was the best we'd ever had. Tucker got the mixed ceviche with medium spice and it was heaven! Lime, cilantro, fresh fish, just the right amount of spice, mmmm.... I got fish in white sauce (yes, it was cooked) but that was also very very good.

What an amazing trip. We didn't spend the whole time eating, but I have to admit we spent a good deal of time thinking about what our next meal would be. Can you blame us?
The beach behind the kiosks


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