Boulevards & Byways

Postcard from Guavate, A Culinary Adventure

When visiting Puerto Rico, take a culinary road trip to Guavate, a town dedicating itself to all things pork. It’s a place where the art of cooking traditional Lechon Asado is king and where one can experience an authentic Puerto Rican culinary and cultural adventure.

What is Lechon?

Lechon is a whole seasoned pig, roasted on a spit, over an open fire. Crispy skin, well-seasoned, and brown. Smoky meat, moist and juicy. Is your mouth watering yet?

Where is Guavate?

The barrio of Guavate, in the east-central hills of Puerto Rico. The road through Guavate is nicknamed the Pork Highway because of the dozens of roadside barbecue stands along the road cooking whole pigs over an open fire.

How to Get to Guavate

Getting to Guavate is part of the adventure. Route 184 winds through the verdant Sierra De Cayey Mountains.The journey? Snake-like roads, barely wide enough for two cars, sharp bends, steep-sided valleys, and densely blanketed jungle foliage.

Better known as the Pork Highway, or La Routa de Cerdo dozens of roadside stands along the road cook whole pigs over an open fire. The smell of roasting pork, the sounds of pounding salsa music, and the vision of couples dancing in the street will let you know when you arrive. It’s a culinary and cultural destination like no other.

Restaurants in Guavate

Golden Lechon, proudly on display in the front windows of the lechoneras, beckons long lines of hungry customers waiting their turn to be served. Lechonera Los Pinos, just one of the many open-air eateries, with its tin roof and cafeteria-style service is my favorite.

What to Eat in Guavate

The carver swings down his machete, cutting the Lechon with strong, swift movements. Hypnotized – chop, chop, chop, you wait your turn. There’s no menu. There’s an assortment of delectable side dishes on display behind the glass counter: yucca in garlic sauce, arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), tostones de platanos (fried green plantains), morcilla (blood sausage), and longaniza (pork sausage) – served picnic style, on paper plates and with plastic utensils – all very reasonably priced at $8-$10 a plate.

I munch on a crispy piece of skin, the best part. Several couples jumped up to dance salsa. This place does not disappoint. I ate and ate some more. It was just so good. Go on a Saturday or Sunday to get the full experience. If you don’t have a car, there are tours that will take you to Guavate. Tradition, culture, family, and food. It’s what Puerto Rico is all about.

Read more about my next adventure in Old San Juan.

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