Beautiful day. Sunshine. Good friends. Good conversation. What more could you want?
Oh, I know…Pork! That’s right, oink, oink.
It was a lovely Sunday afternoon with great friends and lively conversation down Highway PR-52. We arrived in Cayey around 1PM after about an hour drive from Luquillo. As we climbed the winding road into the depths of this rural, mountain area, we set in the back of our friend’s SUV enjoying the sites. And what we saw were lots and lots of lechoneras.
What’s that? – you say.
Lechonera is a type of a local, rustic (think shabby chic) eatery that is dedicated to serving Lechon. And Lechon is….you guessed it….pork! Roasted pork, in fact, and Puerto Rico’s national dish. See this post to find out more about Lechon- The Traditional Roasted Pig in Puerto Rico.
But let me start at the beginning…
When I got a call from our friend a couple of days before inquiring if we want to go to Cayey for the afternoon to check out a local restaurant, the first thing out of my mouth was: “are we going to eat pig?”
The reason for this was that Cayey is known for its amazing Lechon. As a matter of fact, the road to Guavate (a barrio of Cayey) is known as the Pork Highway (La Ruta del Lechon in Spanish) and is every pork lover’s paradise. So, naturally this was the first thing I thought of.
My friend laughed and said that she had something healthier in mind but implied that we’ll get some Lechon just for me too.
First stop in Cayey
As it turned out, we drove and drove through the local neighborhoods – do not ask me how to get back there – to this lovely, quaint, local establishment that was simply a gem, called Te.Ta’s. If you speak Spanish, you will laugh because tetas means titties (or tits) – no I’m not kidding. It’s named after Cayey’s twin mountain peaks that resemble a woman’s breasts.
In any case, Te.Ta’s turned out to be amazing. We all (six of us) shared a slew of tapas (or small plates); we had anything from coconut balls to sliders and everything in between. The whole focus of this restaurant is creative cuisine to support the local farmers. They even grow some of their own stuff in the back. Very cool indeed.
Having gorged ourselves on this fantastic local fare, we decided we weren’t done yet. It was time for pork!
Hey, you can’t go to the Pork Highway and not have pork, right?
Second stop in Cayey
We agreed to take the pork to-go but, first, we needed to make a stop for coffee and dessert. Our friends took us to a tiny “hole in the wall” (again, don’t ask me to tell you how to get there) coffee and dessert shop, that happened to be right next to a big Lechonera. We had amazing local coffee and sweets, while sitting on small deck out back surrounded by greenery.
It was beautiful. The deck was covered by large umbrellas that kept us dry when a sudden rain shower broke out. What an awesome experience to huddle together in this beautiful, lush place while big drops of rain were coming down around us. Loved it!
I have to add a little story here: as we were standing in line for coffee, I heard an elderly man behind me yell something that sounded like “go-boo!” I ignored it. Then he did it again and it seemed that he was directing it at me. We all turned around and looked at him but none of us could understand what he was talking about. He then poked my backpack and yelled it again. I was wearing a backpack with my former employer’s logo – University of Michigan. This lovely gentlemen recognized it and was yelling “Go Blue!” with a heavy Spanish accent. Ha ha ha ha. I love Puerto Rico!
Third stop in Cayey
The last stop on our trip was the Lechonera, place was lively with loud music blaring and locals enjoying the afternoon with their families. Some were even dancing. We got roasted pork by the pound and we opted for rice with pigeon peas and cassava for our sides.
Here is where I have to stop as say this: it was the best pork I have ever had!
You have to understand that it takes a lot for me to say this because I am Polish, was born and raised in Poland, and have had a fair share of pork in my lifetime. I may even consider myself a pork connoisseur. But truly, the people of Puerto Rico know how to make an amazing roasted pig. Yum!
Anyway, this concluded our Sunday afternoon trip to Cayey. We will definitely go back! It was much more than a culinary experience. We got to see, first hand, the Puerto Rican hospitality. Everywhere we went people were happy, friendly, and in good cheer.
This is why we love living here on this Enchanted Island of Puerto Rico!