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I ATE Puerto Rico • Guavate (La Ruta de Los Lechones)

March 20, 2010 by Joan Nova in Latin, Meandering Meals, Travel, Travel Retrospectives | 18 Comments

I promised after the Culinary Tour ended I’d give you a glimpse of some authentic “road food” I ate while I was in Puerto Rico in February. So, here we go. Fasten your seat belt – you’re in for an adventure!

First off, we go to Guavate, better known as La Ruta de Lechones (the home of roast pig). Guavate is located about an hour-and-a-half from San Juan high in the mountains and it’s a very popular Sunday afternoon destination for locals.

People spend the day eating, drinking, taking in some sun and dancing. It’s crazy, exciting, fun and delicious! I think the following photos will give you an idea.

A winding mountain road leads you to a strip with one lechonera (roadside cafeteria) after another.  They all specialize in whole roasted pig and side dishes and most offer live music.

Sunday traffic is heavy, cars are parked all over the place and people line up at the roadside stand of their choice to get their food and sort of ‘picnic’ with family and friends. This is our favorite place, El Rancho Original, because behind it and down a flight of steps is a little Shangri La of nature and gazebos where  you can enjoy your meal.

Families and large groups generally spend the day together. We were 8 people and here’s a sampling of what we ate. Morcilla (blood sausage), pickled guineos verdes (green banana) with gizzards, rice + gandules beans, roast pork with cuero (skin).

Morcilla (blood sausage).

Viandas (Boiled Root Vegetables): platanos, malanga, batata

Medalia Light (local beer) is the best accompaniment to this type of meal. Yes, I ate that whole plate (and then some)!


Back up on the street level, there is a large dance floor, live band and tables and that’s where people (of all ages) work off the calories they just consumed with the throbbing sounds of salsa!

This was my third trip to Guavate, but the first time I ever tried Mavi, a non-alcoholic fermented beverage made from the bark of the Mavi tree. It was quite refreshing.

Next up is Piñones and Fajardo.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Jimmy Z says:

    Guavate is my favorite place for LECHON. My favorites are Los Pinos & El Guavateno (try the LECHON Spring Rolls and Arroz con Gandules Fried Rice).

  2. redkathy says:

    Oh I’m craving Puerto Rican food now Joan. Those platanos and malanga look great. Need to try the batata.

  3. gail says:

    Love it! The blood sausage and the suckling pig! YUM!

  4. norma says:

    I do wish we were back it was such a lovely time. I had my fist blog lessons because of you and I don’t have to mention the food…that all we did was eat, eat and drink

  5. This is so cool! I’ve been to PR twice and the furthest I’ve gotten from San Juan is El Yunque. I’ve always tagged along when my best friend goes there for work, hence staying within the city limits.

    Your account of the events remind me of Anthony Bourdain’s show on the island. I wanna go!!!

    I’ll be heading home to Panama in a couple of months, though. I can’t wait!

  6. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us Joan. Looks like I am doing some more armchair travel and living vicariously through you:D

  7. Lara says:

    It sounds and looks wonderful! How is the roast pig different from what we have at a pig roast here in the states? Different seasoning, wood smoke??

  8. Maude Eaton says:

    I want some of that Crispy Pork Skin!

  9. Nathan says:

    You must tell me more about the pickled plantain with chicken gizzard? is it like steamed semi-ripe plantain with mojo sauce?

    • Cuca says:

      Actually, they are not plantains (platanos), they are green bananas (guineos verde) which are somewhat different than the plantain. They are not sweet like when the plantain becomes ripened. They can be boiled and made into escabeche which is the dish listed above. It’s awesome!!

  10. Looks like a lot of fun Joan! Eating, drinking…dancing…my perfect holiday!

  11. Núria says:

    Joan, que bien que vives, chica!!!! How do you make it to have this life and be so skinny? You are so lucky :D. Good for you! I would have loved to share the experience with you.

  12. peter says:

    That pig (lechon) on the spit is a thing of beauty…that’s all that I would eat…veggies be damned!

  13. Teanna says:

    Oh man, I was in Puerto Rico last year and I WISH I knew about this place! We were looking for some really authentic food but we were staying in such a touristy area! Never again! I want to find out where the locals eat!

  14. Brad says:

    Wow I would go there just for the roast pig, great pics! Thanks.

  15. Brian says:

    Guavate is another must visit place for those wanting to experience traditional Puerto Rican foods. Always popular with locals on weekends , the place I’d buzzing with families enjoying the Lechon as well as the music

  16. joan! how exciting to be looking up stuff in guavate (for our upcoming trip w/o the little one to PR) and there’s my little ole bloggie buddy’s link right there with some of the best info! just wanted to say thank you for this and i’m about to go check out your other PR posts. We are going to Vieques and then Ponce and SJ so won’t be doing the east coast this time around. thanks again for those mouth-watering pics. i can’t wait to get there!

    amy and jonny

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