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Vaca Brava: The Best Cuisine in San Juan Puerto Rico
Old San Juan is a town of many things.
The culture is thriving. The people are friendly. Fort Castillo San Cristobal is spectacular.
But if you just happen to stroll down the right cobble stone street lined with the colorful antique two story buildings you are bound to run into many small restaurants that serve some of the best food in Puerto Rico.
I’m proud to include Vaca Brava as one of them.
Let me put it like this…if the red eyed bull just outside the door doesn’t give you a hint that you’re about to walk into a carnivores haven, then the life sized ceramic bull you pass is sure to hit the nail on the head…
The Best Place to Eat in Old San Juan Puerto Rico
As you walk into the new rustic style building you are greeted with a wonderful sense of ease as you pass through to the tables in a cool 78 degree room. The textured tanned walls have a nice rustic feel to them as you peer around at all of the paintings, mirrors and pictures of cattle looking back at you.
I must admit, it was a bit creepy at first sitting down and having your potential meal looking at you as you feast at their fellow brethren but as soon as you begin to see the food come out from behind the scenes, all thoughts immediately go aside and your stomach goes awry for your upcoming meal.
Taking a seat and looking over the menu for a moment, my buddy Scottie and I were greeted with a very nice & informative waitress who briefly went through all of our options. It all looked SO good and being hung over from the previous night before (they sure do know how to party in San Juan) I ordered a Screwdriver and allowed the waitress to choose what we were going to eat!
What can I say…I like stepping out on a limb like that!
As the first round of food came out we were greeted with six of these very cute mini alcapurrias. The fried plantain turnovers stuffed with ground beef were quite a treat when dipped in a side of hot sauce or, better yet this homemade sauce they made that tasted like it consisted of mayonaise, ketchup, onions & a variety of other herbs.
Either way you had it, you just couldn’t stop at one as they were a mouthful of juicy fulfilling deliciousness! Conveniently enough as I had finished off my screwdriver and taken the last bite of these little critters, my appetite was just building up as our waitress brought out the main course…
Standing as proud as the 14,000 foot walls of the Maroon Bells out in Colorado, I was already defeated when the La Vaca Ensarta came out & presented herself. The main course (such a wise pick from the waitress) was a a towering beast of sweet tender chicken breast and pulled steak wrapped in a crispy layer of bacon.
But it doesn’t stop there…oh no. This juicy flap of meat sat vertically atop a bed of french fries accompanied with bacon bits, onions, green peppers, garlic and many other herbs then was smothered in a cheddar cheese topping. To take things to the next level, they even covered the entire thing with a very sweet mushroom sauce…oh my friends if food was to die for then I had found my main course to lie me down for all eternity!
We watched the waitress with extreme eager, she grabbed the steak knife, and began cutting through this massive beast…oh how the juices just came out of each stroke of the knife. I had to refrain myself from just jumping in there and start gnawing on the thing!
Low and behold, as she placed two thick slices on our plate and dismissed herself we feasted! I could barely get down the entirety of my meal. Come to think of it I actually had to order another screwdriver just to wash it down! 😉
The texture of the meat, the flavor, the smell…everything was just exquisite! Even the service was good…from my experience usually you have to go into that whole “vacation” mentality and give everything twice the amount of time as you would back home for it to come out but not here. This massive mound of a buffet came out in no time and they didn’t spare any details in it’s preparation.
As we finished up the waitress came out with the final course of our meal: three cheese flan with a side of strawberry cheesecake ice cream decorated with chocolate, cinnamon and fresh pistachios.
The flan didn’t take on the typical characteristics of your everyday flan…oh no. This one had character…you know, that “I wanna jump out and slap my grandmomma” kind of character! With every bite you could taste the individual flavors melt in your mouth. Then with a side of the strawberry cheesecake to compliment with your curious cinnamon & pistachio kicking in some extra flavor my full stomach wasn’t so full anymore.
By the time it was all said and done, we signed the check and left Vaca Brava as two very content individuals. As for now…our bellies were full in ready for the next adventure: exploring the El Yunque Rainforest!
Where’s your favorite place to eat in Puerto Rico?