A huge part of experiencing the culture of a new place is trying their local food. Living down in the southern Caribbean has allowed me to try a ton of new restaurants and, while a lot of it is much more “normal” than I expected, I love scoping out the foodie scene in each country I visit.
Since my ship goes to ten different countries, I'm starting this Caribbean Eats series, beginning with our home port in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Café Berlin is in the heart of Old San Juan, sitting quietly in the middle of Plaza Colon. With Castillo de San Cristobol to your right, you walk into the unique tiled floor of this charming Puerto Rican breakfast café. The first thing on their breakfast menu is an eggs benedict. I’m a huge fan of this dish and the way they prepare it at Café Berlin is my new favorite. It’s your usual poached egg, Canadian bacon, and hollandaise sauce but instead of sitting on an English muffin, they dip bread in pancake batter and make it like French toast. It’s the perfect amount of sweet and when topped with the savory flavors, I scarf it down every time. And I mean every time because I’ve never been able to order anything else. It’s that good.
Verde Mesa (yes, I know in Spanish it technically should be Mesa Verde but maybe they’re trying to be trendy?) is a Mediterranean-inspired spot with local food and lovely Puerto Rican charm. Most of their menu is on a “Specials” board since everything is fresh but their regular menu doesn’t disappoint either. One of their specials that I've tried is a lovely eggplant sandwich with multigrain bread and avocado. I’ve also had the Verde Mesa rice dish (pictured to the right) which is mixed rice, vegetables, and beautiful salmon on top. Amazing. Especially after ship food that's not all that fresh to say the least. They also have irresistible hummus so I’d recommend it as a starter. They serve juices and tonics (with alcohol or without) and their customer service is outstanding. It’s a bit on the pricey side so be ready for that, but well worth it in a world of fried food and preservatives.
My Puerto Rican loves: do you have any recommendations in Old San Juan and the surrounding areas? I'd love to check them out. Keep an eye out for more Caribbean Eats, coming soon.