Mofongo is the unofficial (and hugely popular) dish of Puerto Rico. It’s typically made with fried green plantains mashed together in a giant pot, mixed with broth, garlic, olive oil, pork cracklings or bits of bacon with seafood, meat or vegetables. Whether it’s a side dish or a main course, mofongo (pronounced mo-fungo) is a local dish you’ll want to try in San Juan. Here are a few noteworthy restaurants to try the classic version and a few that serve it with their own unique twist.
This spot is a hidden gem. It’s located on the rooftop of Hotel Milano on Calle de la Fortaleza, so unless you know it’s there, you’re going to walk right past it. They serve up the classic types of mofongo (chicken, pork, shrimp, vegetable), but it’s simply perfection when you add one of their unique sauces: garlic, creamy garlic, mango, and tomato, just to name a few. This is also one of the very few places where you can enjoy a rooftop meal.
Plan ahead for this place because it’s always packed. Their specialty is mofongo; order it with the spicy chili sauce for a kick of heat and flavor. It’s absolutely delish. Everything about El Jibarto is simple, full of flavor and authentically Puerto Rican. Chances are, you’ll be dining with more locals than tourists, which is always a good sign. Consider starting with one of their (shareable) empanadas and ending with Nutella flan.
Most restaurants only make mofongo with green plantains but Orozoco’s lets you choose sweet plantains, green plantains (not sweet) or trifongo (blend of mashed fried plantains, mashed sweet plantains, and mashed yucca) for a savory and sweet flavor. It’s a nice treat for those with a sweet tooth (here’s looking at you mojito lovers). They have perfected their plantain preparation game where every bite includes both gooey and crunchy textures. And if you’re looking for a kick of heat, order your mofongo with their homemade hot sauce.
For a blend of Cuban and Puerto Rican flavors, head to Ropa Vieja on Ashford Avenue. The ambience is laidback and there’s a good chance they’ll have live music. Their signature dish, the pulled beef Ropa Vieja, with sweet plantains and white rice with black beans is a must-try, but so is their delectable shrimp mofongo.
Off the beaten path down a narrow little road, you’ll find Café el Punto. As you enter, you’ll walk past local art hung on the wall and into a tiny restaurant with grand flavors. The menu is on the inexpensive side and the portions are large (considering sharing). The mojitos are strong and the mofongo is scrumptious.
Another hidden gem. This spot is so well hidden that you’ll have to look for signs for ‘El Mercado’ or you’ll miss it. Restaurant Doña Ana is the place to go if you want sangria with your mofongo. And after you’re seated, head over to the local market next door and pick up a perfectly ripened avocado and ask your server to slice it up and serve it with you meal. It’s a local secret; so don’t tell too many people. If you happen to be in the area on Friday and Saturday nights, you’ll also have a treat for your ears with live music.
Located in Old San Juan has a friendly café-style atmosphere, where sitting outside is the place to sit. Café Puerto Rico serves up a mean mofongo with choices from shrimp and fish to chicken and vegetables. It’s typically served with a side of rice and beans. The only downfall to Café Puerto Rico is they don’t serve alcohol.
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100 Brumbaugh Street, San Juan, Puerto Rico, United States, 901, (1)(787) 721-5100
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