Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

For this edition of Excited about Eating we travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Why Puerto Rico? Because I judged the Smoking Hot BBQ event and then took some time off for a 7 day cruise.

It’s a challenge sometimes to find a good restaurant in an unfamiliar location but after some research, we selected Ropa Vieja Grill in the Condado area of San Juan.

Ropa Vieja Grill in San Juan

It was a thirty minute walk from our hotel but we were up for some exercise. The streets were clogged and sidewalks crowded, and a policio (police) told us that there was a large festival going on a few blocks away.

We found Ropa Vieja Grill to be very casual and a place where the locals eat. Since I had been judging BBQ all afternoon we decided to share an appetizer and meal. For our appetizer we ordered the Carne Frita con Tostones Peseteros which is Fried Pork Chunks with Fried Green Plantains.

Fried Pork Chunks with Plaintains

The fried pork was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with just the right amount of seasoning coming from the marinated onions. Plantains are starchy and must be cooked before eating (usually fried or baked) and are very popular in the Caribbean, as well as Florida where I lived for the first 49 years of my life. Many people confuse plantains with bananas, but plantains are longer and have thicker skin. The plantains tasted fresh and were sliced a little thicker than potato chips. The one thing that would have put this dish over the top would have been a dipping sauce.

For our main dish, we ordered the Canoas de Ropa Vieja, plantain “canoes” filled with Shredded Flank Steak and blanketed with an unidentifiable cheese. The sweet plantain and the shredded flank steak were a perfect match for each other. The sweetness and firmness of the plantain with the hearty savory taste of the shredded flank steak kept you coming back for more. The white rice and black beans were a great complement. Dora here. I wasn’t a huge fan of the fried pork chunks, but the canoas hit a homerun! 

Canoas de Ropa Vieja

This is a small restaurant and as the crowd increased, the noise level did also. If you are looking for a quiet dining experience, I would suggest you try another restaurant. Dora here. I enjoyed the food, but definitely noise overload. If you’re like me and find it difficult to tune out background noise, you’ll find conversation a challenge. Not a romantic dinner for two kinda place. 🙂 

I would rate this establishment 4 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving great food.

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