There are plenty of restaurants in the San Juan area claiming authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, and several of them are pretty good. But I don't think you'll find one more real than Don Tello across the bay in Cataño. A mostly working class town, the suburb doesn't have a whole lot of tourist appeal other than the Bacardi distillery, which offers tours and is kind of like Disneyland on rum. Take the ferry from the AquaExpresso station near the cruise ship dock for a quick ride. Don Tello is right in front of you when you get off.
Not only does Don Tello have really good food and an outdoor deck, but the clientele is mostly local folks. In fact, I think we were the only tourists there for our Saturday lunch. There were families celebrating anniversaries and birthdays plus a bunch of folks just out for a hearty meal.
I had the chuletas can can (that's fried thick cut pork chops) which, 8 days later (I'm still in PR as I write this), is still the single best thing I've eaten here. Others in our party of four opted for the octopus salad, mofongo, and other traditional foods. I eagerly devoured my chuletas with rice and beans accompanied by a very cold Medalla beer while a strolling musician (that's not as corny as it sounds) wandered from table to table singing songs that everybody seemed to know, as there was much singing along on the choruses.
And therein lies the magic. Real good food, yes. A true Puerto Rican experience? Absolutely!
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