Puerto Rico is the place to be this spring break. The island's landscape includes beautiful sand beaches, mountains, waterfalls, and the El Yunque Tropical Rain Forest. Puerto Rico is the perfect place to catch a tan, but if lying around the beach all day isn't your thing, the island has loads of adventurous activities for tourists to enjoy as well.

You can try exploring the streets of Old San Juan, swimming in the bioluminescent bay, snorkeling in La Parguera, learning to surf with a professional instructor at Surfing Puerto Rico Adventures or Spectrum Surf School, and much more. For thrill-seeking travelers looking to make their trip more memorable, skydiving with Xtreme Divers in Arecibo, Puerto Rico is a must. 

Not only does the island feature stunning beaches, rich culture, and a drinking age of 18, but it also has lots of delicious Puerto Rican food. Here are the Puerto Rican foods you won't want to miss:

1. Tostones


TheHungryDudes on Flickr

Tostones are wildly popular across the island of Puerto Rico. Often served as an appetizer, this dish is made by thinly slicing plantains, coating them in a batter, and frying them. Tostones pair perfectly with mayo ketchup, a mixture of mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic, and other spices. 

2. Arroz Con Gandules

Arroz con gandules is actually considered the island's national dish. Arroz con gandules is the first food every Puerto Rican abuela teaches her grandkids to cook.

For those of you who may be challenged in the kitchen, this dish and can be found on almost any restaurant menu. It's white rice cooked with pigeon peas, olives, capers, tomato sauce, seasoning, and sofrito. Sofrito is a cooking base made from cilantro, onions, peppers, and tomatoes. The sofrito is what gives the rice its unique flavor. Sometimes pork is also added to give the rice more substance. 

3. Alcapurrias

Made with yucca and plantains, alcapurrias are fritters filled with ground beef. They are similar to corndogs in America, but I think they're much more delicious. The best alcapurrias are sold at "cuchifritos." Cuchifritos refers to restaurants that sell Puerto Rican fried food. These establishments are often counter-serve, rather than sit down restaurants. 

You can find them across the island of Puerto Rico; however, some of the best cuchifritos are located in New York City. The next time you're in the big apple, you have to stop by Cuchifritos in Spanish Harlem, La Isla in Brooklyn, or 188 Cuchifritos in the Bronx to try something new.

4. Empanadillas


Núria Farregut on Flickr

Puerto Rican empanadallias are savory fried pastries traditionally filled with ground beef, although now you can find them stuffed with chicken as well. Although similar to empanadas, empanadillas tend to have a thicker outer crust.

5. Mofongo

In Puerto Rican cuisine, instead of mashing potatoes, they mash plantains and call it mofongo. Mofongo is made from green plantains seasoned with garlic and salt and often stuffed with chicken, beef, shrimp or vegetables.

Mofongo is a classic Puerto Rican food that's fairly versatile. My personal favorite way to enjoy this dish is topped with veggies and a side of arroz con gandules. Café Berlin in San Juan, Puerto Rico makes amazing veggie mofongo.

6. Pernil

Pernil is roasted pig. Puerto Rican families often roast an entire pig at family celebrations and parties. Pernil is enjoyed alongside a variety of other Puerto Rican foods including: arroz, mofongo, tostones, and more. 

7. Rellenos de Papa

Rellenos de papa are potatoes stuffed with ground beef and deep fried to create a crispy outer layer. They are often served at restaurants, food trucks, and cuchifritos. The meat filling, called picadillo, can be made by pan frying ground beef mixed with adobo, sofrito, tomato sauce, olives, oregano, and garlic powder. The picadillo is then stuffed into mashed potato balls and fried in hot oil. The result is a savory fried potato croquette. 

8. Pasteles

Pasteles are typically served at a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas dinner, although they can be enjoyed year-round. They're made with green plantains and are filled with some variety of meat, typically pork. Many people find them to be somewhat similar in taste and texture to tamales. 

9. Pastelon

Pastelon is the Puerto Rican version of traditional Italian lasagna. The filling is made from fried meat seasoned with oregano and cumin and mixed with sofrito, olives, and tomato sauce. This is placed between layers of ripe, thinly-sliced plantains, topped with cheese, and baked in an oven. Pastelon has a unique taste that is both salty and sweet.

10. Platanos Maduros

Platano Maduro

arnold | inuyaki on Flickr

Maduros are fried plantains; however they're different from tostones. These are sweeter because they are made from riper plantains. They taste similar to a caramelized banana. They're typically served as a side dish or dessert. I think they taste best when paired with creamy vanilla ice.

11. Asopao

Asopao is popular across the Caribbean. It's essentially a blend of rice and soup. This dish is similar to gumbo and is often paired with seafood, chicken or pork. There are many different variations of this dish. The most popular in Puerto Rico is asopao de pollo, which is made from broth, rice, chicken, oregano, tomato, olives, onion, garlic, and other seasonings. 

12. Coco Rico

Coco Rico is the Coca Cola of Puerto Rico. This carbonated coconut beverage is just what you need to cool off after a long day at the beach. It has a fairly light flavor and is similar to Sprite, but with a coconut aftertaste. The soda is usually enjoyed on its own, but you can try this Coco Rico Mojito recipe if you're looking to mix it up.

Coco Rico is the widely popular on the island and can be found almost anywhere: grocery stores, restaurants, drug stores, bakeries, gas stations, roadside markets. The brand can now be found in the United States as well. The next time you're in the supermarket, keep an eye out.

13. Coquito

Coquito is a milky coconut drink served during the Christmas season in Puerto Rico. It is similar to eggnog; however, the egg component is replaced with coconut. Coquito is made from a blend of evaporated milk, cream of coconut, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, rum, vanilla, and is often enjoyed with a cinnamon stick. 

You can order your own delicious coquito that's sure to be better than your abuelita's from Brooklyn Coquito, or if you're feeling adventurous you can make it yourself.

14. Cafe con Leche

Coffee is a staple in Puerto Rico. Some of the island's most popular brands are Yaucono, El Coquí, and Café Rico. Personally, I love 787 Coffee Co. because their coffee is 100% Puerto Rican and has a unique, rich flavor. They also have a coffee shop in Maricao, Puerto Rico.

15. Arroz Con Dulce

mashed potatoes, potato
Lissane Kafie

This coconut rice pudding is made from cooking rice with coconut milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Arroz con Dulce is often garnished with cinnamon sticks and raisins and enjoyed as a dessert. Who knew rice could taste so sweet?

16. Flan


Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue on Flickr

Flan is popular in most hispanic countries and comes in many different varieties. In Argentina, Mexico, and Uruguay dulce de leche flan is the most prominent, and in parts of Spain flan de naranja is commonly enjoyed. However, the most popular flan in Puerto Rico is flan de queso, which has a rich taste similar to cheesecake.

17. Tembleque

Tembleque is creamy coconut pudding made from coconut milk, sugar, and cornstarch. Although similar to arroz con dulce, tembleque has a smoother consistency. It is often topped with cinnamon for added flavor. The dessert is enjoyed year-round but is especially prominent at parties during the Christmas season.

19. Dulzura Borincana 

Although not exactly a food, Dulzura Boricana is the island's most popular candy brand. Among the most popular are marrallo, a chewy bar candy made of black coconut; cremas de coco,  coconut cream bar candies; ajonjolí, crunchy sesame seed snacks; and pilones, lollipops with sesame seed.

Pilones are unfortunately the only candy Dulzura Boricana does not sell online, but the rest are all available for order. You don't even have to pack your bags to try these sweet treats.

19. Adobo

Also not a food, Adobo is a seasoning used in many Puerto Rican dishes. They use it to season meat, fish, vegetables, you name it. If you want to try preparing your own Puerto Rican-inspired meals, it's a necessity.

As you can tell by the length of this list, Puerto Rican food is fairly versatile and accessible. There's a dish to satisfy everyone's tastebuds or dietary restrictions. 

Even if you're not going to Puerto Rico, you can enjoy some of these foods at restaurants in the United States. Some of my favorites are El Rincon Tropical in Virginia Beach, Pearl Island in Charlottesville, and Sazon in New York City.

If you're feeling ambitious, you can also try cooking your own Puerto Rican dishes. Puerto Rican food blogs like El Boricua and Que Rica Vida provide lots of easy-to-follow recipes.