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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Puerto Rico -- Old San Juan & Condado 2.2

  • La Bombonera
  • El Jibarito
  • Helicopter ride
  • Condado restaurant hopping

People who know me quickly learn that I crave for new experiences like drug addicts crave for crack.  Rarely would I visit a place twice or eat the same food again.  So, for me wanting to go back to La Bombonera for Mallorca says volumes.  We went back to La Bombonera again for breakfast this morning and ordered some more heart attack inducing Mallorcas -- equally satisfying. 

After breakfast and some souvenir shopping later,  we took a taxi to Condado to check out life outside of Old San Juan.  Condado was a posh part of Greater San Juan with prime real estate values and expensive brand name stores.  Some part of it reminded H of Miami twenty years ago.  

A couple of hours later, we were hungry and headed back to Old San Juan for lunch.  George, the driver from the W resort in Vieques, recommended Raices restaurant.  We decided to check it out.  However, the location was slightly suspicious: the restaurant was near the Port, which screamed tourist trap.  The theme like decor and custom all white dress uniforms that the waitresses wore did not feel right to us.  We left the restaurant and decided to try El Jibarito instead.  It was definitely a good judgment call.  There were only local customers in the restaurant which put us at ease.  I had grilled shrimp mofongo, and H had fried red snapper.  The dishes were simple, unpretentious, and heavenly!  The home made hot sauce on the side was SOOO delicious that I wish they sold it in a bottle. 

Just as we finished eating, H's client J called.  He told H to get a cab and put the driver on the phone.  Before H could get any more information, J hung up.  The phone call was a bit out of the blue.  We knew that we were meeting J for dinner, so we assumed he meant later when we were ready to meet up. 

10 minutes later, J called again and asked H if we found a cab.  We rushed out of the restaurant, found a cab, put the driver on the phone, and were clueless what J had up to his sleeve.  

The cab dropped us off at a small aviation center.  J & his pilot friend with his own helicopter was waiting for us to take off.  We flew over Ricky Martin's house and Bacardi family's mansion.  It was so much fun seeing San Juan from high above. 

It was the beginning of an awesome evening. After the ride, J took us to a series of restaurants starting with a Mexican restaurant near his office in Old San Juan.  2 margaritas, 1 tequila shot, some nachos & quesadillas later, we moved to a Spanish tapas bar, Bar Gitano, in Condado.  

Bar Gitano was my favorite restaurant this night.  I liked the vibe and the food was excellent.  We had lamb skewers, squid cooked in it's own ink, and tuna tartar.  3 tapas and a bottle of red wine later, it was time to move on.  

The third restaurant was Pamela serving Caribbean cuisine by the beach front in Condado.  It would be a ideal location for a romantic dinner, however the service was left to be desired.  Some steamed mussels, ceviche, a bottle of champagne, and a shot of chichaĆ­to (a traditional after-dinner concoction)  later, it was hard to damp our partying moods even with their crappy services.  

We summed up our night at Ummo Argentinian Gril with the perfect hang over food, Provoleta (Grilled cheese with oregano), and 2 more bottles of champagne.

It was one of those spontaneous memorable nights that I would forever associate with Puerto Rico and a consolation for the sad reality that we had an early morning flight the next day back to New York in the midst of a dragging long winter.

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