We ate our fair share of heavy, starchy meals in Puerto Rico, but the island has a lot to offer in the way of between-meal snacks.
On thing the eaters were really excited for in Puerto Rico was the famous piragua – while it is the Spanish-language word for canoe, it also describes a Puerto Rican snow cone. Little push-carts selling piraguas dot most urban squares in Puerto Rico. Inside the carts are tubs of shaved ice, and sometimes even giant cubes of ice that the piragua-makers shave to order. The piragua comes in a plastic cup (or if you are lucky, a little paper cone) and is then doused liberally with flavored syrup. Along with typical flavors like cherry, coconut and strawberry, you can get more unusual treats like tamarind, hibiscus and mango. Our favorite experience was sharing a tamarind piragua in the Parque de Bombas in Ponce. Perfectly refreshing for a hot day.
In terms of quick bites, we also managed to have some excellent breakfasts in Puerto Rico. A typical breakfast in San Juan consists of café con leche and a pastry, a model to which we subscribed. One of our favorite new dishes to accompany our morning coffee was the mallorca-a hot, buttered, fried pastry with a variety of fillings (ham and cheese, etc.). Think panini, but instead of bread there is pastry. Two of the better breakfast places we found for mallorca were Cafeteria Mallorca and La Bombonera. Both boast impressive pastry display cases and big selections of breakfast and lunch items including American favorites like pancakes and fruit salad. Bombonera is the more historic of the two, going all the way back to 1902 (with a vintage Cuban espresso machine to boot). However, we have to give a tip of the hat to Mallorca for friendlier and speedier service.
300 Calle San Francisco
259 Calle San Francisco