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El Cerro de Juaco, the Only Lechonera in Rincón

In addition to its culinary offering, the establishment treats guests to an impressive panoramic view

April 20, 2024 - 11:00 PM

Eduardo Figueroa, owner of the only lechonera in Rincón, called El Cerro de Juaco, which opens only on Saturdays. (XAVIER GARCIA)

Lee la historia en español aquí.

Rincón.- The waves carried Eduardo Figueroa from a private banking position to the shores of Rincón.

But his passion for cooking brought him to kilometer 13.3 of Highway 411, in Rincón’s Atalaya barrio, where he decided to establish El Cerro de Juaco. This is the only lechonera (an establishment specialized in roasted pork) in Rincón and, in addition to its culinary offering, it treats visitors to a stunning panoramic view that allows them to see the town’s various barrios, its beaches, and Desecheo islet.

El Cerro de Juaco began to take shape unexpectedly in 2013, after Figueroa, who is also a surfer, in love with Rincón’s waves and beaches, bought a house in the western municipality to have a calm place to live once he retired from the professional world. “I bought the house in 2013. I closed the deal in December of that year, and in July of 2014 I quit my job and moved here, with no family, friends, and no job; I just wanted to surf. I sold everything I had in San Juan and I moved out here,” recalled Figueroa, who is the former vice-president of the Mutual Funds department of a well-known bank in the island.

Every Saturday El Cerro de Juaco, in Rincón, fills with people who are looking for great roast suckling pig.
Every Saturday El Cerro de Juaco, in Rincón, fills with people who are looking for great roast suckling pig. (XAVIER GARCIA)

One of his first concerns after settling in Rincón, recalled ‘Juaco’, as he is known to the public, was where to eat roast suckling pig in the west. “The day after I moved in I asked the neighbor where they sold suckling pig nearby and she said ‘no, there’s nowhere like that here,’” he recalled. This lack of a place to savor this typical Puerto Rican delicacy in the west stayed in Figueroa’s mind; since he was young, he enjoyed roasting pork himself.

“So I started looking for land in Rincón that had what I needed, which was an open gazebo, nature, roast suckling pig, and Puerto Rican food with abuela’s seasoning,” he said. Finally, in 2017, shortly before Hurricane Maria, Figueroa acquired a two-acre farm to establish his business in the Atalaya barrio. In the midst of the pandemic, he began to give shape to what today has become a well-known meeting point for those who go out for domestic tourism or chinchorreo every Saturday.

The view from the restaurant.
The view from the restaurant. (XAVIER GARCIA)

Getting up early on Saturdays

El Cerro de Juaco is open every Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. But the work of Juaco and his family, which includes his wife Griselle Carrero and his mother-in-law, Minerva López, whose hands keep the secret of abuela’s seasoning, his daughters, his wife’s cousins, as well as very close friends, starts every Wednesday. They receive six whole pigs, which will be roasted in the early hours of Saturday morning. On Thursdays, the seasoning for the pigs is prepared, and Friday is prep day for Saturday, which starts in the early morning hours, when they start preparing all the food that will be served once the business opens its doors.

In addition to the delicious roast suckling pig, another one of the house specialties is the pastel al caldero, which Juaco describes as a thick house soup that contains everything a pastel has, as well as the coconut and anise arepas, served with octopus salad, and the mamposteao de gandules (stewed rice with pigeon peas), which is prepared the same day, unlike in other establishments.

Roasted suckling pig, arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) and stewed cassava from lechonera El Cerro de Juaco, in Rincón.
Roasted suckling pig, arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) and stewed cassava from lechonera El Cerro de Juaco, in Rincón. (XAVIER GARCIA)

The culinary experience and the spectacular view is complemented by the restaurant’s family atmosphere, the hospitality of its owners and employees, and the establishment’s playlist, composed of classic salsa from the 1980s and the 1990s. Although he has thought about expanding his operation and has received proposals for this and many other things, Figueroa believes that the success of his business lies, among other things, in the way he operates; it guarantees quality and customer experience, which is why he has not ventured to expand his working days.

Figueroa explained he named the lechonera in honor of his grandfather, without imagining that eventually he’d even lose his own name, since everybody calls him ‘Juaco’ nowadays.

A roast pig from El Cerro de Juaco.
A roast pig from El Cerro de Juaco. (XAVIER GARCIA)
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