10 Comfort Foods From Puerto Rico That I Love

10 Comfort Foods From Puerto Rico That I Love

Nothing like some mofongo or mallorcas to warm the soul.

Growing up as a Puerto Rican means growing up with phenomenal food. There are so many dishes and desserts that not only fill the belly, but fill the soul too.


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For me, there were 10 foods that even to this day I have to eat when I’m back visiting because it’s tied to my youth and the time I spent living on the Island. There’s a comfort I get when eating these things, so I’m going to share them with you today as I try not to salivate too much when writing all of this.

1.

Mofongo


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Mofongo is a staple for me when it comes to Puerto Rican dishes. It’s the meal of meals as its pairing with any protein is amazing — and even if you enjoy it on its own, it is something that will satisfy the hungriest person. It’s fried mashed unripe plantains with chicharrones (pork rinds) and garlic that are put into a cup, in which your protein sits nicely. Many places do it differently, but I’ve always enjoyed the presentation of a cup-style mofongo. I personally love my mofongo with camarones al ajillo (garlic shrimp), which has a savory garlic flavor that balances well with the plantains. Every place does their camarones al ajillo a little different on the island, but the one thing they usually all have in common is how delicious it is. It’s rare to find a mofongo place on the island that doesn’t do it right, which is why this is the first meal that comes to mind when I think of comfort foods. 

2.

Alcapurrias


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Anytime I’m back on the island, I have to make a stop at Piñones and go to one of the little mom and pop kiosks and get myself an alcapurria (stuffed fritters). They’re usually made with a root vegetable that’s mashed and then stuffed with whatever protein you prefer and then fried to perfection. I stick to my classic order and go with a beef alcapurria, although sometimes I’ll order one with crab to change it up. What doesn’t change is the drink order I get to go with it, which is either a Medalla or a grape soda, while I stare off at the beautiful beach and satisfy my craving. 

3.

Bacalaitos


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Yet another kiosk staple that might not be the “healthiest” of selections (but let’s be honest — this list isn’t about the healthiest things). It’s about food that gives me the most comfort, and this one gets it done. Bacalaitos are fried codfish fritters that are a perfect snack when out in Piñones or at any of the beachfront kiosks on the island. It is perfect for when you’re hungry but not ready for a mofongo or pastelón yet. Its soft and chewy inside, and crispy outside, making for a perfect snack best paired with a beer or drink to wash it all down and balance its saltiness. 

4.

Mallorcas


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One of my favorite sweet snacks to have when I lived in Puerto Rico was my mallorcas. It’s a delicious sweet bread that’s been glazed in sugar and then dusted with powdered sugar. It’s meant to satisfy any sweet tooth, but be filling enough to not overeat like you might some other sweets. There was a bakery that I always visited to get my fix, and when I moved stateside to go to college I would always fly back with a bag to have at home — even though they never lasted more than a day or two. A must-have snack if you ever get to visit Puerto Rico. 

5.

Tripletas


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One of the most popular sandwiches to get on the island is the tripleta, which if you can guess, has three must-have ingredients that gives it the triple threat name that it carries. It must have steak, pork, and ham to fulfill the protein needs of the sandwich, though it’s the potato sticks, mayo ketchup, cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce that are the unsung heroes and make this sandwich complete. It is not for the faint of heart as the sheer size of the sandwich is more than filling for the average person. On more than one occasion, it’s been my comfort meal after a night of drinking when I knew nothing could “matar la hambre” (kill the hunger) better than a tripleta.  

6.

Croquetas de jamón


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These delicious fried ham croquettes were a must-have whenever I had any sandwich at a panadería (bakery) that served them. The crispy outside and soft ham filling were the perfect little appetizer or side with any meal. This usually led to me eating more than I should, as I could never just eat a couple. 

7.

Tembleque


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Tembleque is a coconut pudding that is perfect after any meal. Topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon, this light dessert always made its way to me at whatever restaurant or bakery I would visit. It’s reminiscent of Jell-O in the way it shakes, hence the name tembleque, which was usually what I did when I was eating it as I did my happy dance. 

8.

Flan de vainilla


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This is another Spanish-influenced dessert that Puerto Rico started making their own. Flan was something I could always get, whether it was from a restaurant or a family/friend’s house. This delicious custard comes in a variety of flavors, but vanilla was always my favorite. I mean, hell, I remember KFC even had it, and it was pretty damn good for a fast-food spot. The benefits of eating at a big chain fast-food spot in Puerto Rico was that they knew they had to adapt to the local cuisine to entice people even more. 

9.

Pastelón


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You’ve had lasagna, right? Well, imagine instead of using pasta for your layers, you use ripe plantains instead that make this dish sweet, savory, and cheesy. It’s the kind of meal that you want to have another serving of, but your stomach is saying, “No mas!” This is usually the kind of dish that is made for the family to enjoy as you can ensure everybody eats well after a full pan of pastelón. 

10.

Medianoches


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There’s a Spanish bakery in Puerto Rico that I go to every time I visit, and I always get the same thing. A medianoche, four ham croquettes, and a grape soda. It never disappoints as a filling meal to get me through the day. This Cuban sandwich is something that allows me to get a taste of another island in PR with sweet bread, roasted pork, ham, mustard, Swiss cheese, and sweet pickles. It’s the kind of sandwich that always puts a smile on my face when I have it because it’s always so damn good. 

Have you tried any of the foods on this list? What’s your favorite comfort food? Let us know in the comments below.