When in San Juan Eat As The Greeks Do

Jan 16, 2014

One of the things that’s so great about being in Puerto Rico is that it quite literally is “The Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.” Forget for a moment all the marvelous Puerto Rican food that’s so delicious and so readily available: the zesty seafood asapao; the spit-turned juicy, tender and adobo-spiced chicken; the golden, twice-fried tostones; the steaming bowls of satisfying arroz con habichuelas; the crispy chillo entero.  Oh my god, my mouth is watering already!

Think, instead, about all the other cuisines on the island: tangy tzatziki, a perfect blend of Greek yogurt, chopped cucumbers and dill, served with hot pita bread. Or Italian wedding soup, thick with its little lamb and Parmesan meatballs and al dente pasta. Or delicious dim sum, in its seemingly infinite varieties. Or a taste of bouillabaisse that’s so authentically French you can feel the afternoon Marseilles sun on your face while you eat it.

That’s the joy of dining in Puerto Rico. There’s almost everything to choose from!   And after living there for more than 30 years, the flavors of the Island’s various ethnic restaurants have become the standard by which I measure all others.

Last night we enjoyed a Greek meal in Baltimore, Maryland. It was the first time we’d been to this particular restaurant, which is actually walking distance from our home, just in the other direction from the way we usually go. I suppose that’s why we hadn’t known it was there until someone recently mentioned it to us. (Obviously,  they don’t advertise.) Tch-tch._But once we found it, it had all the charm anyone could want: A beautiful bar; brick-lined walls in the main dining room; comfortable seating, sconces so glamorous I was tempted to ask the management where I could purchase a similar set. The menu was lengthy enough to offer a multitude of options, and the food, skillfully served and nicely presented, was very good. In all, it was a pleasant dining experience and we’ll go back again. (The restaurant is called Waterstone Grill.)

And yet… and yet… maybe I was a tad disappointed because the chef didn’t pop out to say hello to all of his guests, and talk about his menu for the day as listed on an oversize blackboard, as Chef Theo Ladias-Apostolakis does at Fleria, his Greek restaurant on Loiza Street in San Juan. Maybe I noticed the  difference between the sauce on Chef Theo’s Greek-style green beans and last night’s. (Chef Theo’s is lighter.) I must also admit, however, that I loved Waterstone’s falafel, perfectly fried and light as a feather.  Very different than Fleria’s… although both, in  their own ways, are delectable.

Fleria on Loiza Street is not the only place in Puerto Rico where you can get Greek – or Mediterranean … cuisine. Check out the Tables Magazine Restaurant Guide and  you’ll find others.  And come back next week to read my next post about food in general and PuertoRico’s  options in particular.

And remember:  make somebody happy, make reservations for dinner!


Filed Under: Between BitesFeaturedGreekMediterranean


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