Mofongo, a popular dish in Puerto Rico, can range from simple to sublime. The dish begins with the basic ingredient of pickled, fried and mashed plantains. These are then mixed with garlic, pork cracklings and bacon, and typically shaped into a ball before being served.
But from there, pretty much anything goes in terms of added flavors and preparations. Seafood, chicken, beef and pork may be added, usually piled into a cavity indented in the top of the mofongo. The meat can be served as cooked or enhanced with various sauces. Endlessly versatile, mofongo serves as the base of local dishes and, unadorned, also works as a popular side dish.
No trip to Puerto Rico is truly complete without at least trying mofongo, which represents local culture as well as anything else on the island. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to get mofongo within easy reach of San Juan's tourist areas. Here are the top mofongo restaurants and cafes in and around the city -- the best and easiest places for Puerto Rico visitors to delve into the endlessly creative world of mofongo!
This Sol Street restaurant in Old San Juan brings the outside in with an interior design inspired by its brightly painted neighborhood. As for the food, it's inexpensive Puerto Rican Creole cuisine. The restaurant is known for its "trifongo" -- a mix of sweet plantains, cassava, and green plantain.
For mofongo with a view, check out Punto de Vista, located on the rooftop of the Hotel Milano in Old San Juan. The shrimp and chicken mofongo are among the best in the old town.
Santaella is close to the Santurce barrio's Farmer's Market, known as La Placita. The restaurant is known for its comida criolla influenced by the cooking of Spain, India, and Africa. Ask for the lobster mofongo, pictured here. The restaurant and market are within walking distance of the Doubletree by Hilton San Juan and other Condado hotels.
Located in a strip mall in the Isla Verde neighborhood, Mi Casita is a very local restaurant that's often the first place tourists taste mofongo, thanks to its location close to the airport and the beach resorts of Isla Verde, including the Ritz-Carlton San Juan, the Intercontinental, and the El San Juan. The shrimp mofongo is their signature dish.
Flavor your mofongo with a sea breeze at Oceano, an upscale eatery in a modern, multistory building overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Condado. Executive Chef Eric Gonzales tops his colossal shrimp mofongo with a passion-fruit reduction and also serves up a vegetarian version.
Hipster hangout Santurce is home to Molini's Cafe, a budget-friendly local restaurant with well-regarded crab, chicken, and steak mofongo.
Family-friendly Orozco's is located in the heart of Condado and is a bright and cheerful place to dip into the world of mofongo. Wash down a generous helping of their shrimp mofongo with a big minty mojito!
Cafe Manolin has been serving comida criolla in Old San Juan for more than 70 years. The cafeteria-style restaurant isn't super fancy but the chicken mofongo and shrimp mofongo are top-rate. Or, order a side of green plantain mofongo with your classic Puerto Rican onion steak, liver steak, skirt steak, grouper or pork chops.
Located in the elegant Hotel El Convento -- which really was once a convent -- Patio del Nispero serves up chicken, skirt steak, or shrimp mofongo al fresco in one of the loveliest settings in the city.