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The domplines that conquered Ponce

The Ríos family, proprietors of El Trigal, continue to make waves with their delicious food in the Manorial City

April 19, 2024 - 11:00 PM

Jesús M. Ríos Rebollar expresses gratitude towards those who have supported him and his father in this business over the past 43 years. (XAVIER GARCIA)

Lee la historia en español aquí.

Ponce.- For many, hearing the word “dumplings” might conjure images of that succulent delicacy synonymous with Chinese culture. However, an interpretation of the exquisite recipe has been Jesús M. Ríos Rebollar’s secret to capture the attention of his diners and turn these wheat flour cakes into a crowd favorite.

Not a day goes by when Ríos Rebollar, a native of Ponce since 1979 and the current owner of El Trigal—where the product is sold—does not greet customers with a smile as they stop by his establishment daily to enjoy the most famous domplines in the city of Ponce.

It all began when his father and founder of the family business, Jesús Ríos Pérez, transitioned from working as a taxi driver and decided to venture into gastronomy as his primary source of income.

And, after renting the building located at the corner of Reina Street and California Street in Ponce, he began selling lunches and fried foods.

A year after the restuarant’s opening, Ríos Pérez added the succulent domplines to the menu, a product that stole the spotlight from other dishes and became the star.

But what are domplines? The Ponce native explained that they are “wheat flour cakes fried in oil.” They can be eaten plain or stuffed.

At El Trigal, you’ll find a variety of fillings for their domplines on the menu, including pastrami, roast pork, steak, chicken, smoked ham, turkey, tripleta (a local sandwich with three types of meat), dupleta (a variation with two types of meat), and Los estrellaos, which has cheese, ham, and egg inside. Additionally, they sell alcapurrias (stuffed fritters), rellenos (stuffed and fried mashed potato balls), and meat and chicken empanadillas (turnovers).

“Spending 43 years in one place isn’t easy. You really have to work hard. I wake up at 2:00 a.m. every day,” said Ríos Rebollar, who arrives at the shop at 3:00 a.m. daily to prepare the kitchen and welcome customers starting from 6:00 a.m.

By noon, he has already sold out of the delicious fritters and then takes advantage of the afternoon to prepare the dough and meats for the next day, ensuring the freshness of his products.

The Ponce local mentioned that all the merchandise sells well, but the tripleta and pastrami domplines are the favorites.

“They’re really good. They’re the best here, at El Trigal. My favorite is the one made with steak,” commented Rafael Rivera, a customer who visits the family business whenever he has the chance.

For Ríos Rebollar, the secret “ingredient” and key to success has been the love he puts into his work.

The Ríos family kept the same love and enthusiasm when they decided to expand the business and opened a second location on Highway 132, towards Peñuelas.

El Trigal is open Monday through Saturday, from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. You can reach them via their Facebook page under the name El Trigal or by calling 787-202-2216.

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