I came up with a plan to re-fall in love again with my country after moving back. To achieve that, I started a series as a tourist in my own country. As you might recall, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017. There is still a lot that needs to be done. 2020 and all its situation has represented a new challenge for Puerto Rico. We all know that since the hurricane, the emergencies has not been solved properly (Thanks bureaucracy!) And it is up to us, the Puerto Ricans, to help rebuild the island from any way we can. Taking that into consideration, I know the island desperately needs tourism to get back in track. That is the reason why I decided to start this adventure of becoming a tourist in my own city, San Juan. I had the chance to join a wonderful walking food tour that is open for business: Flavors of San Juan food tour.
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What is the Flavors of San Juan food tour?
Flavors of San Juan is a company that is making tours in the area for a few years. Their Old San Juan Food Tour is the #1 ranked food tour in the island on TripAdvisor. This food tour around the Old City gives an insight on the local tradition and culture through an authentic culinary experience. (Spoiler Alert: I agree with TripAdvisor!)
REMEMBER to mention when you book and remind your tour guide about any food allergies or if you have any secial request (Vegan, Gluten Free, among others)
Need some tips for a hotel in San Juan? Don’t forget to check these suggestions.
What can I do to join the tour?
You can book your tour through Flavors of San Juan website. This is a pretty popular tour around the city. I recommend booking as soonest in advanced as you can.
Start at Cuatro Sombras
After the Tour Guide gives the introduction, the tour begins in Café Cuatro Sombras (another spoiler: this is one of my favorite cafes in the city). In the Café, you’ll get to learn some details on the local coffee productions and some of the coffee history on the island. Of course, you’ll also get to try the coffee and other local goodies such as brioche with guava butter. You need to do the tour and later on, visit Cuatro Sombras again.
Exploring the wall
When I mentioned that this tour combines the culinary experience with culture and history, I was being serious. You’ll have the chance to explore a bit about the history of the walls that surround the Old City. Why they were built? Why they are still important? Those will be some of the questions you’ll be thinking about while getting the chance to indulge a Señor Paleta Popsicle.
Señor Paleta is a local Popsicle store that carries flavors such as Ferrero Rocher, Nutella, Chocolate, Strawberry. They also have some other local fruits such as guava, pineapple, and passion fruit. Considering how hot the weather in San Juan can be during any season, this stop will be very refreshing.
The Flavor of San Juan tour knows that you have needs while visiting a new place. There is a stop if you’re looking to buy coffee, rum, or any other goodie that you need to bring back home. You will have enough time to ask any question concerning the products and even, to pick your favorite spicy sauce.
Café el Punto
I must admit that –considering the fact that I’m a local- Café el Punto was one of my favorite stops. The main reason is that it was a spot I never visited before in my own city and that became an amazing discovery.
During our stop in Café el Punto, we get to try Alcapurrias. Since you might not be familiar with what alcapurrias are, I will explain a bit. They are a typical fried snack made with plantain, yucca, and yautía (taro roots) dough filled with beef in our local Creole sauce.
If you ask a local, for an Alcapurrias made far from Piñones (which is the place to go if you are looking to eat alcapurrias) these were amazing! On this stop, we also got to try some delicious ceviche. Definitely, after this tour Café el Punto is one of those places I’m seriously going back.
Mofongo, Mojito and Arroz y Habichuelas
If you watch Man vs. Food, maybe you can recall the episode when Adam came to Puerto Rico and decided to take the Vaca Acostada challenge. No, you won’t have the chance to get into the Vaca Acostada challenge, but you’ll get to visit Vaca Brava, which is the restaurant that prepares this dish. When Adam came to Puerto Rico, he visited the original one in Barranquitas, but there is another Vaca Brava in Old San Juan.
During the stop in Vaca Brava, you’ll first learn how to make your own Mojito. This was a part of the tour I loved. I totally admit it.
After preparing your own Mojito, you get to try one of the dishes most Puerto Ricans get to eat: Arroz y Habichuelas, Rice, and Beans! Definitely, what is the point of trying Puerto Rican dishes if you don’t try Rice and Beans? it was definitely needed to have a stop where we can have this, considering I’m weird. It was the best starter for the king itself, his royal highness Mofongo.
If you have read other articles I’ve written, you know that Mofongo is one of my favorite local dishes. The mofongo is prepared with mashed fried plantain mixed with garlic. Sometimes, it is filled with some type of meat that can be shrimps, chicken, or flank steak. The mofongo in Vaca Brava is amazingly good. Trust me, this part of the tour will teach you how to eat like a true Boricua.
Casa Cortes is another of my favorite places in Old San Juan. During the tour, you’ll get to try their delicious hot chocolates and you will have the chance to indulge them with some churros because what are churros without some good hot chocolate? And yes, as a local, let me tell you how we indulge hot chocolate.
I remember when I was little and my grandmother would always prepare hot chocolate (in fact, Cortes chocolate!). This part of the tour was also one of my favorites because it took me back to my own childhood. I think it was the best way to end a tour with such an indulging dessert.
Why do I recommend the Flavor of San Juan tour as a local?
Well, here comes my opinion as a local.
I truly believe this Flavors of San Juan tour reflects exactly what I wish every tourist would get to know about our cuisine and about Old San Juan. It is the perfect mix between history and discovering something new about the culture in every bite. My sincere opinion is that, if you have the time and the budget, this is the tour you should definitely do while visiting San Juan.
This tour definitely worth every single penny that you’ll spend on it. Another thing that I also want to highlight is that most of their tour guides are amazing and dynamic. I was lucky enough to have Andrea as my tour guide. She was great guiding us through every bite we tried and through the Old San Juan history and facts.
If you needed to read this post to make up your mind on deciding if this Flavors of San Juan tour was an option for you, this is all I have to say: BOOK IT!
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