View of Puerto Rican foods on a table

Puerto Rican Food (A Local’s Guide to 47 Best Dishes to Try)

A wonderful mix of Taíno, Spanish, and African cuisines, Puerto Rican food will delight your tastebuds with the dishes, drinks, and Puerto Rican desserts you’ll enjoy on your visit to the island.

Some might say there’s too much plantain or rice in Puerto Rico’s cuisine. But, even as a local that eats popular Puerto Rican dishes frequently, I honestly can’t get enough of a good mofongo or tostones, and I know you will love them too! 

I’m a Puerto Rican local, and since eating local food should be on every Puerto Rico bucket list, I rounded up these 47 Puerto Rican foods you can’t miss during your stay in Puerto Rico. I hope you’re hungry!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

47 Best Puerto Rico Foods & Dishes

Pasteles

Boiled green banana dough filled with pork meat

View of a Pasteles on a leaf
The leaf gives a plantain flavor to pasteles

🍽️ Where to Find Pasteles: La Casita Blanca (San Juan), Deaverdura (San Juan)

Pasteles are one of the Puerto Rican staples for Christmas, and they consist of a dough made with green bananas, pumpkin, and yautía, usually filled with pork meat. After the dough is ready, Pasteles get wrapped in a plantain leaf and wax paper and cooked in boiling water. Some people top it with hot sauce or ketchup.

Piraguas

Shaved ice with syrup of different flavors

The author holding a piraguas
Me with some hand-shaved piragua with raspberry syrup

🍽️ Where to Find Piraguas: Paseo La Princesa (San Juan), Piraguas El Coquí (Arecibo)

Piraguas are a simple dessert but they’re the best way to quench thirst on a hot day. This traditional dessert is simply hand-shaved ice topped with sweet syrup. 

👉 Read Next: The Best Places to Go in Puerto Rico

Sofrito

A mix of different spices grounded together

A hand holding a sofrito on a jar

🍽️ Where to Find Sofrito: Any corner market

Not something you eat on its own, Sofrito is the base of all Puerto Rican stews, mamposteao, and soups. This mix consists of cilantro, onion, garlic, salt, recao, oregano, parsley, achiote, and sazón, a local spice that Puerto Ricans use to cook. 

You will not see sofrito in your food, but you’ll definitely feel its flavor.

Arroz con Gandules

Yellow rice mixed with pigeon peas

View of a Arroz con Gandules on a plate
Arroz con gandules and pernil

🍽️ Where to Find Arroz con Gandules: Deaverdura (San Juan), La Casita Blanca (San Juan)

Arroz con Gandules is common in Puerto Rican meals, especially during Christmas. The rice gets cooked together with pigeon peas, tomato sauce, red pepper, olive, sazón, and sofrito.

 Many Puerto Ricans also add cooking ham to the rice for some protein and give it more flavor.

Mofongo

Deep-fried mashed green plantain with spices

View of a mofongo with its dip on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Mofongo: By Cheff’s (Isabela), La Cabaña (Toa Baja)

Mofongo is one of the top Puerto Rican dishes and one you can’t miss on the island. 

Mofongo is a mashed and fried plantain dish with garlic and salt usually served in the form of half a sphere. Sometimes it’s stuffed with chicken, seafood, or any other type of meat. To make mofongo, Puerto Ricans use a pilón, a tool for cooking similar to a mortar and pestle.

Arroz con Pollo

Rice with chicken

View of a Arroz con Pollo on a pan

🍽️ Where to Find Arroz con Pollo: Cafetería Mallorca (San Juan), Tropical Gourmet (Aguada)

Puerto Ricans love to mix their rice with pink beans and pigeon peas, but another way they cook it is with chicken, making it a complete meal. Arroz con Pollo is also commonly cooked with sofrito, tomato sauce, olives, and peppers.

Pollo Guisado

Chicken stew with potatoes

A Pollo Guisado dish on a restaurant

🍽️ Where to Find Pollo Guisado: El Fogón del Rey (Guaynabo), Café Bakery Inc (Yauco)

If you’d rather enjoy your chicken and rice separately, you can ask for Pollo Guisado, a chicken stew cooked with tomato sauce, potatoes, carrots, and sometimes pumpkin. Of course, the main flavor comes from the sofrito. The best way to enjoy pollo guisado is with a side of rice.

Amarillos

Fried ripe plantains

View of a fried banana called Amarillos in Puerto Rico
Amarillos and tostones are both side dishes

🍽️ Where to Find Amarillos: The New Reef (Loíza), Don Kike´s BBQ (Camuy)

While many Puerto Rican dishes use green plantains, ripe plantains are also present in local cuisine. Amarillos are a common side dish that consists of cutting ripe plantain into pieces and frying them until the outside is golden/black and the interior is soft.

👉 Read Next: 41 Interesting Facts About Puerto Rico

Pernil

Slow-cooked pork shoulder or leg with spices

Chopped roasted pork on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Pernil: Deaverdura (San Juan), Lechonera Los Amigos (Cidra)

Pernil is a traditional Puerto Rican holiday dish that consists of a pork shoulder or leg slowly cooked in an oven with spices. Puerto Ricans like the exterior skin to be crunchy (called a “cuerito”) and the interior to be soft and juicy.

Pastelón

Baked ripe plantains with ground beef

View of a lasagna Pastelón in Puerto Rico

🍽️ Where to Find Pastelón: Cafetería Mallorca (San Juan), El Fogón del Rey (Guaynabo)

Pastelón is the Puerto Rican version of traditional Italian lasagna. They’re similar in preparation and cooking methods, but the big difference is that instead of using pasta, pastelón gets made with thin layers of ripe plantains that give the dish a sweet taste.

Rellenos de Papa

Deep fried potato dough with ground meat filling

Three Rellenos de Papa on a bowl

🍽️ Where to Find Rellenos de Papa: The House of Pastelillos (Fajardo), Frituras del Prado (Ceiba)

Relleno de Papa is just one of the many deep fried foods you will find in Puerto Rican cuisine. Traditionally, a relleno de papa is deep fried potato dough stuffed with ground beef. However, sometimes the dough is made from breadfruit (rellenos de pana), and corned beef is used as a substitute for ground beef. 

Tostones 

Deep fried sliced green plantains

Fried green banana on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Tostones: Paladar Criollo (Guaynabo), El Coqui Restaurant (Rincón)

Tostones is another Puerto Rican dish made from sliced green plantains that get fried, smashed individually until they’re flat, and then fried a second time. Tostones regularly come in a concave form, ready to be stuffed with pork, shrimp, chicken, or churrasco.

👉 Local Tip: If you’re eating normal tostones, try them with mayo ketchup, a sauce that combines ketchup, mayonnaise, and garlic powder.

Sopón de Gandules

Soup with rice, plantain, and green peas

View of a bowl of Sopón de Gandules

🍽️ Where to Find Sopón de Gandules: El Fogón del Rey (Guaynabo), El Balcón del Tío Mon (Mayagüez)

Sopón de Gandules is one of the most popular Puerto Rican soups made with rice, pigeon peas, little balls of plantain, red pepper, olives, tomato sauce, and sofrito. To make the plantain balls, you have to ground the plantain, make little balls with the dough, and drop them inside the boiling water. 

👉 Did you Know? Asopao de Gandules is a favorite dish to consume after giving parranda or doing asaltos, a Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico that involves surprising someone at their home with a Christmas concert late at night.

Bacalaitos

Deep fried codfish fritters

View of a Bacalaitos and bread in Puerto Rico
Bacalaito with Pinchos and bread

🍽️ Where to Find Bacalaitos: Frituras del Prado (Ceiba), Bacalaítos El Gordito (Isabela)

Bacalaitos are one of the best Puerto Rican dishes you can’t miss on the island. They’re a mix of breaded and salted codfish, deep fried until crunchy, and then eaten with your hands. You’ll usually eat them before or after an alcapurria on any of the chinchorros on the island. Some restaurants serve them as appetizers.

Guanimes 

Boiled dough of coconut milk and cornflour

View of a Guanimes on a plate with fork

🍽️ Where to Find Guanimes: El Balconcito Criollo (Aibonito), Frituras del Prado (Ceiba)

Often served with codfish stew, Guanimes are cooked similarly to Puerto Rican pasteles. The dough, made of coconut milk and cornflour, gets tied inside a plantain leaf to give it flavor, and then boiled until ready.

👉 Local Tip: Ask for your guanimes with codfish stew or bacalao guisado. That’s how most Puerto Ricans enjoy them. 

Carne Frita

Fried pork chops 

View of a Carne Frita dish on a restaurant

🍽️ Where to Find Carne Frita: Aventura 4×4 con Sabor a Campo (Coamo), La Casona de Artemio (Las Marías)

Besides fried plantains, Puerto Rican food also includes many pork-based dishes. After pernil, the most popular is Carne Frita, fried pork chops that usually accompany mofongo, tostones, or rice and beans.  

🍴 Are you a Foodie? Eating pork in the Pork Highway, a route with many restaurants, is one of the popular things to do in Puerto Rico, read more about the other 42 best activities in Puerto Rico here

Chicharron

Crispy pork skin

Closed up view of crispy chicharron

🍽️ Where to Find Chicharron: Carretera #2 Small Kiosk on the side of the road (Bayamón)

Chicharron is a salted pork skin that is usually a snack you take on the go. Bayamón is known as the city of chicharron and you can enjoy this local treat in a few spots. You can also find pre-packed Chicharron Pacheco in the supermarkets.

👉 Always Forget Something? Don’t miss my guide to what to pack for a trip to Puerto Rico!

Mallorcas

Sweet bread with powdered sugar

View of a Mallorcas on a plate with dust of sugar powder
Mallorca topped with cheese and bacon

🍽️ Where to Find Mallorcas: La Bombonera (San Juan), Cremolatte (Toa Baja)

Mallorcas are one of the many types of bread Puerto Ricans regularly enjoy. Sometimes a dessert and sometimes a meal, this Puerto Rican sweet roll is usually powdered with sugar and eaten alone, but some people like to heat it or make it into a sandwich.

👉 Looking for the best Puerto Rico dishes in San Juan only? Check out my list of the 17 top restaurants in San Juan!

Trifongo

Mofongo made of fried green plantains, sweet plantain, and yuca

View of a Trifongo on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Trifongo: El Fogón Criollo (Corozal), El Tablado Beach Bar and Grill (Loíza)

If you’re looking to spice up the traditional mofongo, then try out the trifongo. Prepared and cooked the same way as mofongo, the trifongo includes two additional ingredients – sweet plantains and yuca, a root vegetable commonly used in Puerto Rican food.

Alcapurrias

A fritter filled with ground beef

Alcapurrias stuffed with meat on top of a table

🍽️ Where to Find Alcapurrias: Papos Guacaros (Dorado), El Rinconcito Latino (Loíza)

Alcapurrias are made with green bananas, yautía, green plantain, and potato, then filled with ground beef or stewed crab meat. Then, the cook serves the dough and ground beef in wax paper, shapes the alcapurria, and drops it in hot oil. 

Coquito

Coconut milk drink served during Christmas

View of a coconut and coconut milk on a glass

🍽️ Where to Find Coquito: Luis Muñoz Marín Airport (San Juan), Bacardí Rum Factory (Cataño)

Coquito is a traditional Puerto Rican drink you’ll find during Christmas in Puerto Rico. This drink gets prepared with coconut milk, evaporated milk, coconut cream, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. More often than not, coquito will also have Puerto Rican rum included in its recipe.

👉 Did you Know? Puerto Rican foods like pasteles, coquito, and tembleque are most popular during the holiday season. Read my guide on the best time to travel to Puerto Rico, to choose the best season for you.

Pionono

Ripe plantain sliced and stuffed with meat

Pionono on a plate with leaves

🍽️ Where to Find Pionono: El Pionono 1 (Manatí), Pa’l Monte (Rincón)

Pionono is another one of the popular Puerto Rican dishes that include ripe plantain. In this case, the plantain is thin-sliced, shaped into a type of cup, filled with meat, bathed with egg, topped with cheese, and cooked in the oven.

Guineitos en Escabeche

Boiled green bananas seasoned with spices

View of a banana with oil on a glass container

🍽️ Where to Find Guineitos en Escabeche: El Pionono 2 (Manatí)

Guineitos en escabeche is a side dish of green bananas boiled, drained, chopped, and finally marinated. The seasoning includes olive oil, olives, vinegar, onion, bay leaves, and pepper. Some people mix guineitos with gizzards too.

Arroz Mamposteao

Rice with red kidney beans

View of a Arroz Mamposteao on a wooden table

🍽️ Where to Find Arroz Mamposteao: Tostón Jibareño (Bayamón), Patria Fondita Criolla (Coamo)

Often you’ll see Puerto Ricans eating white rice and beans separately, but arroz mamposteao combines both things in a single dish along with ham, sausage, tomato sauce, and sofrito. 

Brazo Gitano

Rolled sponge cake with a guava filling

A Brazo Gitano topped with powdered sugar

🍽️ Where to Find Brazo Gitano: Ricomini Factory & Bakery (Mayagüez), Panadería Artesanal Villa Palmeras (San Juan)

Brazo gitano is a dessert inherited from Europe and adapted to local Puerto Rican cuisine. Also known as swiss cake, Brazo Gitano is a roll cake filled with guava and powdered with sugar. Carrot flavor with cream filling is also a popular rendition

Morcilla

Blood sausage 

View of blood rice sausage on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Morcilla: Tu Antojito Criollo (Guánica), La Casa del Sancocho (Rincón)

Morcilla is a common side dish to arroz con gandules during Christmas. This blood sausage that originated in Europe consists of a casing, usually the pork stomach sac or the larger intestines, stuffed with a mixture of cooked rice, pig blood, garlic, and other spices.

Quesitos

Pastry filled with cream cheese

View of Quesitos filled with cheese on the inside

🍽️ Where to Find Quesitos: Florida Bakery (Ponce), San Luis Bakery (Aibonito)

Puerto Rican food is full of sweets that originate from the legacy of Europeans, and Quesitos is one of them. This puff pastry is filled with cream cheese, topped with honey, and it’s perfect for a coffee break. 

Pastelillos de Guayaba

Pastries filled with guava

View of puff pastries on a table

🍽️ Where to Find Pastelillos: Kasalta (San Juan), Panadería Encanto (Carolina)

Known as guava turnovers, these small pastries are filled with guava jelly and powdered with sugar. They’re a very typical snack at parties and get-togethers.

Empanadillas

Fried stuffed pastries 

View of Empanadillas on top of a tissue

🍽️ Where to Find Empanadillas: Donde Olga (Loíza), La Casa de los Pastelillos (Loíza)

Known in English as turnovers, empanadillas are fried pastries stuffed with ground beef, chicken, or seafood. Some locals also call them pastelillos.

👉 Local Tip: When eating outside, always carry some cash with you (especially if you’re visiting small food kiosks on the side of the road) as some of them don’t have an ATM. Read more practical tips for visiting Puerto Rico here

Tres Leches

Sponge cake made with three types of milk

Tres Leches on a bowl with spoons

🍽️ Where to Find Tres Leches: El Lechón Ardiente (Fajardo), Panadería Artesanal Villa Palmeras (San Juan)

Another sponge cake popular in Latin America, Tres Leches is a sponge cake prepared with sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, common cow milk, and heavy cream. Often served as a dessert or coffee companion, the cake is first baked and then and then soaked in the tres leches mixture. 

Tripleta

Sandwich of three or more different types of meat

A Tripleta dish on a restaurant in Puerto Rico

🍽️ Where to Find Tripleta: Gipletas (Loíza), Panaderia La Campana (Aguadilla)

For those that enjoy sandwiches, Puerto Rican cuisine offers its own sandwich called Tripleta. The name of the sandwich comes from its three types of meat: grilled steak, roasted pork, and ham. The sandwich also comes with sides of fries, mayonnaise, ketchup, and vegetables.

Piña Colada

Pineapple juice and coconut cream drink

Two glasses of Piña Colada on a table

🍽️ Where to Find Piña Colada: El Tabloncillo Criollo (Villalba), La Terraza (Loíza)

Known as the national drink of Puerto Rico, a Piña Colada is the ideal drink to accompany your fritters. Made with ice, coconut cream, pineapple juice, rum, whipped cream, and topped with a cherry, you can find it in bars and restaurants all over the island. 

Asopao de Camarones

Soup made with rice and shrimp

View of a shrimp soup on a bowl

🍽️ Where to Find Asopao de Camarones: El Plátano Criollo (Carolina), Doña Ana (Bayamón)

Another soup you’ll find in Puerto Rican cuisine is the Asopao de Camarones. Similar to traditional sopón with pigeon peas, the asopao con camarones consist of rice, potatoes, tomato sauce, and shrimp.

Sancocho

Soup with root vegetables

View of Sancocho on a bowl

🍽️ Where to Find Sancocho: Cafetería Mallorca (San Juan), La Casa del Sancocho (Rincón)

Sancocho is one of the best Puerto Rican dishes for rainy days or colder winter weather. This type of soup gets prepared with root vegetables such as yautía, taro, sweet potato, potato, corncob, carrots, and beef. The soup is a darker color and thicker than normal soup.

Tembleque

Creamy coconut pudding

View of Tembleque on three glasses

🍽️ Where to Find Tembleque: Panadería Fernández (Carolina)

Tembleque is a delicious dessert you can enjoy mostly during the holidays. Tembleque is a coconut milk-based pudding prepared with sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. It has a consistency similar to gelatin.

Café con Leche

Coffee with milk

Two cups of Café con Leche

🍽️ Where to Find Coffee with Milk: Café Mis Abuelos (Mayagüez), Barista Squared (San Juan)

Contrary to other countries in the world, if you ask for coffee in a bakery or restaurant in Puerto Rico, you’ll get a coffee with milk. Puerto Rico’s coffee is famous for its strong flavor and most Puerto Rican families start their morning with the warm beverage.

👉 Local Tip: If you’re drinking coffee in a Panadería, ask for a piece of cheddar cheese or ball cheese along with your coffee and drop it inside the beverage. Although it might sound weird, many Puerto Ricans enjoy putting a piece of cheddar cheese inside their coffee and eating it after they finish the drink. The mix of flavors and the melted cheese at the end is a complete culinary experience.

Arroz con Dulce

Sweetened rice pudding

View of Arroz con Dulce on a bowl

🍽️ Where to Find Arroz con Dulce: Fresh and Fancy Bakery (Bayamón) 

Arroz con dulce is another sweet traditional dessert. It’s made by cooking rice in both coconut milk and tea water prepared with cinnamon, sugar, ginger, and anise – resulting in a sweet rice pudding. 

Flan

Custard made of condensed milk, evaporated milk, and eggs

View of Caribbean custard on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Flan: Casa Linda (Añasco), Palma’s Bakery & Coffee Shop (Arroyo)

Originally from Europe, Flan is a dessert made with condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Although the original recipe is widely used in Puerto Rican cooking, flan de queso is another variant that includes cream cheese in the recipe.

Arroz y Habichuelas

White rice and beans

View of rice topped with beans

🍽️ Where to Find Rice and Beans: Café Manolin (San Juan), Rincón del Sabor (Luquillo)

Arroz con habichuelas is Puerto Rico’s staple food. It’s eaten almost daily in local households, and it’s simply white rice with a side of red or pink beans. The dish is made complete with meat, often chicken.

🚗 Going on a food-hunting road trip? Have a smooth day trip with these Puerto Rico driving tips.

Limbers

Frozen flavorful juice

Different kinds of frozen fruit juice

🍽️ Where to Find Limbers: Some gas stations

Besides piraguas, limbers are another treat Puerto Ricans enjoy on a hot summer day. Limbers are frozen juices of different flavors like strawberry, coconut, cookies and cream, passionfruit, cream cheese, and peanut. 

You can find them in small markets or gas stations, but the best ones are homemade. If you stumble upon a house with a sign that reads limber, make sure to stop and buy one.

Serenata de Bacalao con Viandas 

Codfish salad with root vegetables

Puerto Rican fish salad ensalada on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Serenata con Viandas: Ekekua (San Juan), Rene’s BBQ (Guayama)

Viandas is a Spanish word Puerto Ricans use to define vegetable roots along with green bananas and pumpkins. Serenata is a salted codfish salad with onion, lettuce, tomato, boiled egg, and olive oil. Puerto Ricans like to enjoy boiled viandas with serenata and a glass of milk.

Local Candies

Local sweets and candies

Different kinds of candies on a local store in Puerto Rico

🍽️ Where to Find Local Candies: Any corner store

Puerto Rico features its own special variety of Turkish delights. Although you cannot fit them all in a box, Puerto Rican candies are both varied and delicious. Some of the traditional candies include dulce de leche, gofio, ajonjolí, guava paste, and pilones, a sugary popsicle with sesame seeds.

Adobo

Seasoning used in traditional Puerto Rican dishes

View of Adobo seasoning in Puerto Rico household

🍽️ Where to Find Adobo: Any corner market

Adobo is a Puerto Rican mix of grounded spices used to season meats, fish, and stews, and it’s part of what gives the delicious Puerto Rican food its unique flavor.

Cuajito

Pork stomach boiled and seasoned

🍽️ Where to Find Cuajito: Tu Antojito Criollo (Cabo Rojo), Papos Guacaros (Dorado)

Cuajito is pork stomach sliced and soaked in vinegar and water. After rinsing, the pork stomach gets boiled and seasoned with peppers, onion, tomato sauce, adobo, garlic powder, sofrito, and chicken broth.

Maví

Fermented drink made of Maví tree bark

Two glasses of Maví and a beach on the background

🍽️ Where to Find Maví: Paseo La Princesa Food Kiosks (San Juan)

Maví is a homemade fermented drink most Puerto Ricans like to enjoy while strolling through San Juan. The drink gets made with Maví tree bark, sugar, and water. Just make sure to drink it very cold, since the flavor might not be as good any other way. You can also find Maví in other areas of the Caribbean.

Pan Sobao

Puerto Rican bread

Two slices of Pan Sobao on a plate

🍽️ Where to Find Pan Sobao: Any bakery or corner market

Your visit to Puerto Rico isn’t complete without trying the bread of the island. Pan Sobao is present in the breakfast of almost all Puerto Ricans, along with butter and a good cup of coffee.

Asopao de Pollo

Chicken Noodle Soup

View of a Asopao de Pollo on a bowl

🍽️ Where to Find Asopao de Pollo: Sopa Grill (Coamo)

Puerto Rico’s version of chicken soup includes much more than chicken. Brewed with potato, garlic, onion, peppers, noodles, ham, sofrito, and tomato sauce, the Asopao de Pollo is not only a great dish, but many Puerto Ricans use it as a remedy to common colds.

👉 Read Next: The Most Beautiful Puerto Rico Beaches

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Thanks for reading all about these 47 delicious Puerto Rican dishes you can enjoy in Puerto Rico! Before you go, be sure to bookmark my guide to the best places to eat in San Juan!

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One Comment

  1. Single mama here looking forward to our next spring break trip! This really helped me a lot in deciding if Puerto Rico was our next destination! Thanks for all the great tips and information! I appreciate you!

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