Guest Contributor: Alaina Sinopoli
A crowd outside of a restaurant before it's even open is pretty good sign that you're in for a great meal. And so you follow the crowd... in this case, it was a serendipitous discovery while spending the later part of the afternoon in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.
The restaurant, La Estacion, is operated by NYC natives and was transformed from what was once originally a gas station. Complete with lounge chairs and patio furniture, the atmosphere instead now brings more of a tranquil outdoor dining experience. You can't help but smell the char of their outdoor barbecue while listening to the local sounds of salsa.
With overcast weather all day, eating outside is always a questionable idea in the tropics. However, the ambiance was so inviting, a big part of the dining experience would have been lost should you not take advantage of the opportunity.
If you go to La Estacion, go with a big appetite. What this place has that is hard to find in Puerto Rico in general, is access to local and sustainable food from the island. They use only the freshest, local ingredients they can get, so naturally the daily menu may change based on availability. The fish come from local waters, they make their own BBQ sauce and salad dressings, they blend their own spices, and cook using natural charcoal. They also appreciate when you pay in cash so that they can use the money to support the local farmers and fishermen who deal on a cash basis.
Now for the part we've been waiting for.... the food! Maybe it was luck or maybe each of the dishes that day were cooked to perfection, but this was by far some of the most amazing Puerto Rican food I've ever tasted. The following food photos are some of the most popular dishes on the menu...highly recommended if you want to indulge in true local PR flavor!
Drinks: Red Sangria & Cerveza Coqui
Appetizer: Pinchos Shrimp (skewers) and extra Tostones (these blew any other Tostones out of the park during the entire week there).
Entree: Fish of the Day Special & Mahi Mahi/Shrimp Mofongo
Dessert: Tres Leche (Do yourself a favor, don't be modest and share this dish, order one for each guest of your party. You can thank me later).
It's easy for time to pass by when enjoying a wonderful dinner. Great staff and service added to the whole dining experience. If food is an important part of your travel experience, then make sure you find yourself at La Estacion... you will probably be talking about it for months to come. Oh, what I would do for another Tostones and Tres Leche!
About the author: Alaina Sinopoli is the blogger and founder of Tavola For Two, a website that celebrates company, culture, and conversation over the dinner table. She believes in living a sustainable life through the food we eat by encouraging more human face-time and less digital interfacing. Head to her blog if you are interested in organizing your own intimate dinner party event.