iLe Spends Days Off in Puerto Rico Sipping Beer by the Beach and Admiring the Island
The Puerto Rican pop singer loves small coffee shops, vintage stores, and looking out at beautiful landscapes.
By Opheli Garcia-Lawler and iLe
Published on 1/12/2023 at 12:00 PM
iLe | Photo by Erika P. Rodríguez for Thrillist
iLe is a Puerto Rican singer who has been part of the island’s music scene since a young age. As a teenager, she was the vocalist of the Puerto-Rican hip-hip group Calle 13, along with her two brothers, Eduardo Cabra and Residente. She released her first solo album, iLevitable, in 2017, followed by Almadura in 2019. Her most recent album, Nacarile, was released in October 2022. iLe will be touring across the US this March. Beyond her work as a musician, she has been vocal in advocating for Puerto Ricans and protesting against the government. When she gets a day off, she likes to spend it going to her favorite vintage stores and cafes on the island.
To start, I love FinCafé. It's in a town in Puerto Rico called Ciales that is very beautiful. The place is very cozy. It's made out of wood and the back area has a balcony looking out to the mountains. You can see a lot of green, and there's actually a tree in the middle of the balcony. The owners there are super nice, and you feel like you're on the patio of a very warm house.
The coffee is really, really good. Even right now, here in Puerto Rico, it's rainy and I would love to be there right now. I always order an espresso with oat milk. Usually, I go eat someplace nearby and then, afterwards, I go there just to drink my coffee and chill. When I go to FinCafé, I used to also go to this restaurant called Brisas de Las Montanas, but it is closed now. I don’t know what happened at the end. The only sad part about being here in Puerto Rico is that cool places have been shut down recently.
FinCafé | Photo by Erika P. Rodríguez for Thrillist
“The owners there are super nice, and you feel like you're on the patio of a very warm house.”
Cafetin Marrero is a great place in Old San Juan, in Calle Sol. It became our second home there. It's very chinchorro here in Puerto Rico. We call places that are bars that you just go to and stay there chinchorros. They're just very Puerto Rican-styled places. Cafetin Marrero is a place that I love to go to; they also have a patio. It's a super local, almost a weekday place.
I love the store Electroshock, it's a thrift and vintage store. I remember when I was a teenager, I used to receive a lot of bags filled with clothes from girlfriends, from my brothers, my sister, and a lot of people that I knew. So, I naturally learned how to love thrifting by that, because you can find so many incredible pieces. I love some earrings from that store, because it has a mix of vintage but also more contemporary stuff. They have very particular earrings that I feel that are very difficult to find anywhere else.
I have worn many pieces from Johnny & June as well. It's more of a vintage shop rather than a thrift shop. The store is not focused on a particular era. There is a mix of items from the ‘90s, early 2000s, ‘50s, ‘40s, even ‘30s or ‘20s. It's a super gem. They also have incredible vinyls, and they have many things that are super, super special and rare. The owner is super nice and I admire her a lot, how she manages to find these pieces and give them to us here in Puerto Rico.
Photo Courtesy of Johnny & June
“They also have incredible vinyls, and they have many things that are super, super special and rare.”
I really love vinyls. I still have my grandmother's record player and I bought a new one recently because I need to have time to just play records and vinyls. Johnny & June actually have very well-cared-for vinyls, and Ojo de Tigre does as well. They have a very good collection of different types of music. It's a cool place to be, and bands play there live sometimes. Puerto Rico is so small, so it's difficult to have cool places where you can go and just buy music, and appreciate the vinyls, and the texture, and why are they so special.
One of my favorite places to eat is Mister Harry, in Aguadilla on the West side of Puerto Rico. It's a very tiny Thai food joint, and every dish I’ve ever ordered has been so good. The one thing I do love to order, but they don't often have it available, is fried chicken. Mister Harry has really good fried chicken. It's a cool place just to go eat because it's very tiny and it's super cozy.
After eating Thai food, I would want to go and get ice cream at Via Lactea. It’s a vegan ice cream shop, but I can’t believe it’s vegan. The cool thing is that they change up the flavors, but they're always incredible. They're so creamy and super tasty. Last time, I ordered vanilla salted caramel ice cream with black sesame ice cream, so it was very nutty and super delicious. They have a store, but you can also order the pints and pick them up. Whenever I go and get ice cream, I also grab a pint to keep at home. The shop is small and they have a little nice patio outside. Here in Puerto Rico, it's super hot most of the time, and it's perfect to have that ice cream.
Ojo de Tigre | Photo by Erika P. Rodríguez for Thrillist
“Whenever I go and get ice cream, I also grab a pint to keep at home... Here in Puerto Rico, it's super hot most of the time, and it's perfect to have that ice cream.”
There are a lot of cool beaches here in Puerto Rico. One that is very popular but super pretty is Playa Sucia in Cabo Rojo, in the west. It’s one of those that is super popular because it’s actually amazing. What I really love here is that there are many places here that you can just go and sit near water or in the mountains. Sitting there is the best thing, and maybe having a beer. And the food here, I mean... A lot of people say that we eat a lot of fried food in Puerto Rico, and we do, but I love it. And having fried food and then, your beer and then, you're seeing this beautiful landscape, for me, it's the best thing.
In visiting any of these places I think it's important to remember that we are in a crisis here. It's nice to receive people who are here to appreciate what Puerto Rico has to offer and that people enjoy the country, not try to take it over. That is what is going on now. I love showing people from other countries what Puerto Rico is like and how fun and how beautiful it is. But now, I'm afraid because at the same time, rich people are buying public property and it's super scary. I share these from the bottom of my heart because I care about the small businesses here, and I obviously want the best for Puerto Rico. I try to find any time that I can to just enjoy the beauty of what it is to live here.
Places to Eat & Drink
Things to See & Do
1205 Av. Manuel Fernández Juncos, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico
606 Av. Hipódromo, San Juan, 00909, Puerto Rico
1811 C. Loíza, San Juan, 00911, Puerto Rico
PR-301 Cabo Rojo, PR, 00623