Food Afterparty in Puerto Rico

By Lydette Lanzó Rivera

I eat all the time, because it’s essential to my well-being. Other than that, my favorite part of going out is the food. If there’s a party, talk to me about the food. If we’re leaving the party, where are we gonna eat? Let it be three in the evening or three in the morning, I know I’m not the only one who craves a satisfying meal.

Here in Puerto Rico, food after hours has developed a following. There’s a whole variety of local places, specifically food trucks, who have taken the task to cater to these after hour cravings. Yes, the shakes at Denny’s are good at two in the morning, but have you ever tried a sampler the size of a large pizza box full of fried food? Not just ordinary mozzarella sticks (nothing against them, though), but Puerto Rican fried food, alias fritanga. Keep reading and I’ll unlock these special places in heaven for you, where you can pig out at 3am and no one’s gonna judge you. Let’s #VIEWPR through food after hours.

Tripletas at midnight

Imagine this: It’s one in the morning, when your mind still thinks it’s Thursday night, and El Bori is empty enough for you to leave. You’re sweaty from dancing, a little bit buzzed from the Medallas and ready to call it quits, but your stomach rumbles. You’re in no mood for a simple ham and cheese sandwich from home. You only have $7 left. Now’s the time to turn to your designated driver friend and tell them that it’s the perfect time for a tripleta, a sandwich made with a toasted sweet bread bread filled with ham, steak, pork, potato sticks, mayo ketchup and love. Drive down to La Unión, a food truck in Piñero Avenue who’ll fix you a tripleta in less than ten minutes. You can always call beforehand, if you’re already on your way and can’t wait to try them.

Tripleta from La Unión (Photo by VIEWPR)

If by any chance you’re outside of this radar during your outing, don’t worry. There’s a high probability an El Churry food truck is near you (even if you’re in Orlando, Florida). This one is the original of late night eating. With a 20 year streak in Puerto Rico, you can’t go wrong with a bipleta, which is how a coworker of mine described it. Grilled skirt steak mixed with chicken strips (the bipleta, guys) in a sandwich with potato sticks, lots of ketchup, tomato and lettuce. If you’re feeling light, ask for it in a wrap, but… let’s be real.

The nightlife in Santurce is a whole experience. The colorful walls painted in Santurce es Ley, an event made to brighten the streets, bring common-looking buildings to life in a place where the bustle of a work week ends at the nearest bar. The bar scene is on top of its game, with a new place opening every other day. Most of them now operate with a small menu with bar bites, but sometimes the mind tricks you into thinking you’re not hungry, and it’s too late to order, because the kitchen’s already closed.

However, we’re not eating sandwiches tonight. It’s three in the morning, you’re in no rush to get home and your stomach is craving a plate of shrimp mofongo with rice and beans on the side. Don’t worry. I’m not judging you. Los Pinos won’t judge you, either. In fact, this is the place you should go. The restaurant, located at the end of Ponce de León Avenue, is open 24 hours, rain or shine, and their peak hours are commonly after midnight.

Empanada, accompanied with rice with chickpeas from Los Pinos. (Photo by VIEWPR)

Fritangas in the west

I can’t lie. Mayagüez really knows how to party. This town has dominated the college scene since… always. If you’re looking for a full college experience in Puerto Rico, this is the place to be. Río Piedras might give you a feel of it, but in Mayagüez you’ll have the cheap drinks, the Greek life, and the affordable food. For an intense night, there’s a satisfying meal. Remember that pizza box full of fried food? It’s in Mayagüez, yes. Los Gapo offers an enormous sampler for six people or more (four, if you believe in yourselves enough), filled with fried local cheese, sorullitos de maíz, fried pork, fried chicken, and arañitas. Arañitas, translates to little spiders, but they’re shreds of plantain formed into a ball and deep fried. They are crispy on the outside and slightly tender on the inside. Amazing. They remind me of childhood, making them with my mom on Sundays.

Another place you can’t miss afterhours in Mayagüez is Trambóliko Food Truck, located at Pablo Maíz Street, with their arepas filled with shredded beef or whichever protein you’d like. The venezuelan-puerto rican mix is a victory for food, but their signature aspirinas, or aspirin, which are hamburger sliders at just $2 are the real winners here. They do their job at one in the morning.

Stuffed on the eastside

If the college scene isn’t up your alley, you could venture east into the island. Specifically to Humacao, where there’s a food truck called Rellenas Nocturnas, near Dr. Vidal Street, which loosely translates to “stuffed at night”. It’s you who’s gonna be stuffed with their empanadillas, or turnovers, which are cut in the middle and filled with every ingredient imaginable. Their signature turnover is the Titanic. This bad boy is stuffed with chicken, ham, ground beef, bacon, skirt steak, cheese, ketchup, mayonnaise and sweet plantain. You’ll be sinking like the Titanic after this one (is it too soon?). If you’d like something more on the breakfast side at 3am, you can find granitos, or little grains made of rice, with cheese in the Humacao’s town plaza. They’re best enjoyed with a cup of coffee.

You can also eat them for breakfast. At, like, 9am. Like a normal person.

I don’t really care for diets at these early hours. The best part is enjoying the food and happily going to sleep after. There must be a science to it, because you’ll probably avoid a hangover the next day. You’re welcome.