Friday, February 24, 2012

San Juan, Puerto Rico (July 2009)

Except for the vegetable mofongo (mashed, stuffed fried plantain) that the chef at my hotel in Culebra made specially for me, I found it almost impossible to find authentic Puerto Rican food that was also 100% vegetarian.  This was because, unlike in Cuba, Puerto Ricans almost always include ham in their beans. 

If you don't mind eating food that is not traditionally "local" (not usually my preference when I travel, but one must do what one must do), you definintely won't go hungry in Old San Juan.  Here are some good non-vegetarian restaurants that really cater to vegetarians:

Tantra (the link will take you to the NYT review because the restaurant currently does not have a website), which offers Indian-Puerto Rican fusion cuisine in a semi-hip and romantic setting.  The menu includes typical vegetarian Indian staples with a Latin twist.

Tantra's vegetarian sampler includes vegetable curry, palak paneer,
rajma, chana masala, masala dosai, sambar rice, naan, & papadams.

Cafe Berlin serves international cuisine, and its menu includes a separate vegetarian section with numerous options.  The "veggie steak argentino" was both filling and delicious.

Cafe Berlin's veggie steak argentino pan fried with sauteed onions,
mushrooms, and red wine, served with garlic potatos and vegetables
In addition to these nice restaurants, two other great places are St. Germain, an adorable cafe and bistro that serves a variety of vegetarian sandwiches, salads, and quiches, and Makarios (again, no official website), a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant that serves dishes like hummus, falafal, baba ghanoush, pizza, etc.