Hit the Pork Highway for the best in Borinquen roadside snacks
1-hour drive or less east/south of San Juan
No visit to Puerto Rico is complete without a deep-fried roadside snack. Locals may argue over their favorite kioskos (open-air huts), but you’ll also find them eating, drinking and dancing their way through chinchorro routes on most weekends.
Take a break from outdoor excursions for a #treatyoself day in fried food heaven. As you adventure for myriad handmade goodies, you’ll find old-school family joints, Afro-Caribbean traditions and lively music on deck -- the makings of a good time. Major plus? It’s the most delicious way to support small businesses get back on their feet post-hurricane.
For the full circuit, start early at Piñones, a beachfront town 10 minutes outside San Juan airport along Route 187. Stop, snack, repeat. Hop back in your ride and continue 20-30 minutes east to Luquillo on the eastern coast, continue scarfing, and eventually end your day at El Guavate south near the mountains of Cayey. (Of course, if you want to take a snail’s pace, you could easily spend all day at each of these spots. The choice is yours.) Be warned: Every local will have their own recommendations -- even my family fights over their favorites!
Savor plantains in masa dough when biting into alcapurrias and pastelillos, fried dough turnovers stuffed with meat or mariscos (seafood). Grab a pancake-sized bacalaito (salted cod fritter) while overlooking the ocean just a few feet away. Hear the crunch of fritters like chicharrones (fried pork cracklings) or chicharrones de conejo (fried rabbit). See why pernil reigns king as you pass by rows of golden-brown, whole spit-roasted pigs ready to be chopped and served crisp alongside traditional sides like morcilla (blood sausage) and arroz con gandules (yellow rice and pigeon peas). Don’t forget to top with the island’s signature garlicky mojo sauce.
Pro tip: These small, but legendary, food shacks are the perfect fast-casual spots to taste unique textures and flavors distinct to each region. When you find one that you like, knock back an ice-cold Medalla or two (the local beer), play a game of pool or enjoy salsa music blasting around you. Bonus? No dress code required.