I started writing this from our hotel room in wonderfully warm
and sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico on our visit in January. Sorry for the delay on getting it out to you, but I was a little thrown by the weather we have had since returning. But let’s focus on the positive, shall we?
We have been doing this trip for about the last 10 years and I wouldn’t know how to make it through a winter without it. It happily breaks up the monotony of cold and gives you hope that warmer weather will follow. I believe this is the best attended ASME meeting…and no one wonders why.
Being as this was my first time being plant-based in PR, I tried to
do a little research ahead. I didn’t find much that was very near
by. There are a few restaurants deep into Old San Juan or Condado
but I had very little control over where we ate each night. We
stayed at the Caribe Hilton, located about 1.5 miles from Old San
Juan and 1/2 mile from Condado. I know that there are grocery stores
in either direction but we didn’t rent a car while there, so…. My
friend, Bethany, reminded me that you are allowed up to 750ml of
liquid in your checked bag so I brought along 3 small cartons of
PureAlmond milk along with oats, raisins, dried mango, pumpkin
seeds, and chia seeds. I figured that covered breakfast. I was afraid lunch and
dinner were going to be a bit more of a challenge; however, I was very
pleasantly surprised by the options right there at the Caribe.
Lemongrass is a wonderful sushi- Puerto Rican fusion restaurant located right on site.
photo taken from website
The first night there our waiter, Jose, said he was vegetarian so he knew how to help me. They have a Thai Chicken Salad that can be served without the
chicken as an appetizer. They have the obligatory veggie sushi roll
(which was wonderful) and three of the four side dishes are vegan
without any modifications. We ended up, by chance, eating there for
the first 3 nights and I got a chance to try it all…and I loved
every dish. The atmosphere at the restaurant is wonderful, too,
surrounded by palm trees, coqui frogs, ducks, swans, and peacocks
that hang out by the koi pond.
Also located at the Caribe is the Piña Colada Club. Just so happens I was checking out the menu and low and behold there were 2 dishes specifically listed as
VEGAN! I had the Black Bean Burrito the first day and it was
delicious! The next day I tried the Black Bean Falafel appetizer
with the mixed green salad with watermelon vinaigrette. Yum! I made
sure to let the chef know I appreciated him listing vegan items on
the menu…I think this is a good habit to get into. We have to let
them know we are out there!
Silk (scroll down to see picture and menu) was chosen for us on Wednesday night. I felt comfortable that I could modify something
to my liking. Turns out that I didn’t have to do much! First of
all, the waiter was wonderful and told me not to worry. He then
suggested a couple of things already on the menu that would fit the
bill. I had a grilled vegetable appetizer and a Black Mushroom and
Tofu dish that was listed as vegetarian…I just asked that the
fried rice that came with it to not have egg. Although I did not
have it, their miso soup does not use chicken broth so that would have also been an option. I believe I saw at least one other dish that would have
Our last dinner was at Budatai (no website but you can google location). I was surprised to find nothing specifically listed as vegetarian, much less vegan. I explained myself to the waiter and he seemed a bit perplex but then said that most of the side dishes would work for me. I was immediately drawn to the Brussels Sprout Kimchi. I also had the Miso Carrots, edamame and sticky rice. I’m not going to swear it was all vegan…I forgot to ask if the kimchi had fish sauce in it. While the food was very good and my dinner companions enjoyed their meals greatly, I hope that they improve their selection in the future.
All in all, I found Puerto Rico, while not known for their vegan cuisine, to be accommodating. I hope this helps others visiting the island. Remember that the sun is vegan and gets us our Vit D, do wear a hat and long sleeves!