Puerto Rico has been on the news and on our minds for some weeks now due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. But we can still celebrate the rich culture of Puerto Rico, especially in terms of food.
We’ve rounded up some of the best Puerto Rican restaurants right here in the 305 for you to try. If you have yet to try arroz con gandules or asopao, you’ve clearly been missing out.
If Puerto Rican-style sandwiches and sweets bring you joy, you’re in for a treat at El Jibarito. This modest Kendall establishment is ideal for grabbing a quick breakfast or a meal on the go. Seating is limited but never makes you feel crowded, and the staff always makes you feel at home. Don’t leave without trying some pastelitos or taking home some buttery, sugar-coated mallorca rolls. They’re worth every penny.
El Bajareque Restaurant
For the best bang for your buck, you need to hit up El Bajareque. This hole-in-the-wall on the edge of Wynwood boasts stellar Puerto Rican cuisine for less than $10. Grab a seat at the coffee bar or get a table if you’re with friends, and nosh on the free garlic bread before stuffing your face with empanadas, alcapurrias, pernil asado and more. Oh, and if you’re into working lunches, there’s free WiFi, too.
If you’re driving by too quickly on US-1, this quaint little gem inside a Homestead shopping plaza is easily missed. But it’s worth the stop as it serves killer Puerto Rican fare that includes tripleta sandwiches, pizza empanadillas, bacalaito and even trifongo (which is like mofongo with the added benefit of sweet plantain and yuca). Plus, there’s a Tuesday through Friday afternoon happy hour (2 for 1) which also coincides with Domino Game Nights.
Isla de Encanto
Step into la Isla, and the staff will warmly greet you. Peruse the menu, order, then check out the colorful artwork on the walls (created by Puerto Rican artist Elizabeth Erazo Baez of the Baez Fine Art Collection). You’ll fall for such authentic dishes as alcapurria, mofongo and asopao de pollo. The tembleque — a heavenly coconut souffle that perfectly rounds out your meal — will stay on your mind for days.
Ay Bendito Con Sabor A Peru Rico
For many of us, good food can be worth the wait. And that’s exactly the situation at Ay Bendito. Meals at this friendly little spot on the west side of town are always made to order. That means everything is as fresh as possible, including the mofongo with shrimp, the churrasco and just about everything else. What the restaurant lacks in speediness, it makes up for in hefty portions (because seriously, who only wants a few bites of pastelito when you can take some home for later?)
9225 SW 137th Ave., Kendall; 787-379-5629
Pekaditos Mi Viejo San Juan
Pekaditos calls itself a Peru-Rican fusion restaurant, so don’t be surprised when you find dishes like ceviche mofongo and tacu tacu alongside pasteles on the menu. But trust that the blend of South American and Caribbean cuisine works well, especially at this notable establishment. Pekaditos is just a bit more upscale than the other spots on this list, and it shows in the beautifully plated foods and attention to detail, plus live entertainment to keep patrons in their seats longer.