Monday, June 3, 2013

Best Beach Shack, Bien Rico

They may not look like much from the road, but the famous kioskos off of PR-3 in Luquillo, Puerto Rico, will surprise you with the quality and quantity of food. Some 60 stalls, mostly food, are lined up side by side; serving everything from vegetarian cuisine to fried Latin favorites. I was lured to kiosko #12 by the promise of a mouthwatering appetizer that included bacon and dates. Say no more.

#12 is also known as El Jefe Burger Shack. It appears to have taken over two spots, with a small bar and patio seating facing the beach. I sat at the bar and introduced myself to my new best friend for the day, Ivan.
Bacon wrapped dates
When I mentioned the dates he paused and said let me check.  There had been an unexpected and rather large party the night before which pillaged the kitchen and bar of a few staples. WHAT!!! I did a silent chant asking the restaurant Gods to accommodate my one request of the day, it worked.  The dates ($8.95) were not only wrapped in bacon but stuffed with an almond, drizzled with a balsamic reduction then sprinkled with blue cheese. I could not have been happier. The salt and the sweet, the crisp and the creamy, all came together beautifully.

Slider Trio
Since I was at a burger shack, I figured I should get one of those too but couldn't decide which to try. Thank God for the sampler. My mini stuffed burger sampler ($12.95) consisted of burgers stuffed with short ribs, short ribs and jalapeƱos and the third with chorizo.  Ivan warned me it could take a minute to get my food because everything is made to order; the meat ground fresh every day. The ribs were slow-cooked overnight in a 150 degree oven.

No one could tell me which burger was which when the plate arrived. Three different gentleman, I think the chef was one, shrugged and said it will be a great surprise for you. It was indeed.

Lemon Ginger Mojitos

The sliders had that nice char on the surface and moisture in the middle. Small bites are hard to get right and chef at El Jefe did. The plate was perfect with my glass of Tempranillo.

I watched Ivan skillfully make all kinds of rum cocktails including refreshing pitchers of Lemon Ginger Mojitos. He tasted each creation to make sure it was perfect before leaving the bar for a table. A beer is a natural thing to drink at the beach, however, I can't stand how quickly a brew looses its cool outside. At El Jefe, each individual beer was served in its own cozy ice bucker. Brilliant! If I drank a lot of beer, I would keep one of those mini buckets in my beach bag for these occasions. Maybe more bars will jump on the bucket bandwagon.

On to the next kioskos. Cheers.

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