"Well, you're not going without me."
As we mentioned last week, Zach recently had a work assignment for his magazine, and Clay was in need of a few days of downtime. And so we wound up spending five days in Puerto Rico; we returned a little more than a week ago.
Have you been to Puerto Rico? We hadn't, and we had very little idea what to expect. Typically, we plan out our trips fairly well -- What's the best breakfast place near our hotel? Which museums are free on what days? But this time, thanks to both of us being very busy right up until we got on the plane, we pretty much just showed up.
And in no time at all, we started to love San Juan.
Numero Uno was a great home base for exploring San Juan. We walked through Old San Juan, with its cobblestone streets and pastel colonial-era buildings -- and its two huge 400-year-old coastline forts. We took one afternoon to drive out of town to visit El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. One of the most incredible things we did was a nighttime kayak tour through a lagoon inhabitated by bioluminescent sea life. The water glowed when you ran a hand or paddle through it. Seriously amazing, and not something we'll ever forget.
But you came here for the food, right?
Several people who had been to PR told us to keep out expectations in check regarding the food. Maybe we lowered our bar too much, or maybe the food scene has gotten better in the past couple years -- or probably a little of both -- but we actually really liked the food we had. Lots of wonderful ceviches, especially. We had ceviche at nearly every meal.
But there are really only two words you need to learn when it comes to Puerto Rican cuisine: The first is tostones. Tostones are fried green plantains. Literally almost every single dish we ordered had some version of a fried plantain on it.
The other word you need to learn is mofongo. It's the one dish that's truly original to Puerto Rico. Mofongo is simply any kind of meat or seafood served in a bowl made of -- wait for it -- mashed tostones.
Our two favorite meals were at opposite ends of the spectrum. One was a dinner at a place in the neighborhood of Santurce, called Santaella. The food was very good, but it was everything else -- the amazing service and the cool, sexy vibe of the place -- that we really loved.
Okay, as you can see, we didn't get any photos of the actual food we had at Santaella. It was really good -- we both had great fresh seafood. But we still wanted to show you some shots of the place itself.
Our other favorite meal was a lunch we had at a new place called Tresbe. It's a very cool little food stand in a converted storage container -- like an immobile food truck, or, as we would have called that a few years ago, a "restaurant."
Tresbe's name is actually super clever. It's food that's "bueno, bonito y barato" (or "good, pretty and cheap"). As in, "three B's." As in "tres B's." As in "Tresbe."
Anyway, the food more than lived up to Tresbe's promise. It's a cool mix of Puerto Rican/Caribbean and California beachy.
We had one other meal at a place we really enjoyed, called Verde Mesa. It's a seafood and vegetarian restaurant in Old San Juan. Really nice fish -- and a dessert we're going to try to replicate here on the blog very soon!
We'll leave you with a few other photos from our trip. We had a really awesome time, and we can't recommend a trip to Puerto Rico highly enough. We loved it!