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The favorite spot for tourists in Río Grande

Alternative: Pa’l Yunque Food Park is home to eight commercial culinary businesses

April 20, 2024 - 11:00 PM

Assortment of dishes from Bocalaítos del Yunque Food Truck. (XAVIER GARCIA)

Lee la historia en español aquí.

Río Grande.- Mostly located under the canopy of fruit trees and offering stunning views of the outskirts of the El Yunque National Forest, Pa’l Yunque Food Park was established in the Palmer neighborhood of Río Grande. It has become the favorite spot for many tourists who visit the natural reserve.

As you enter the premises—home to eight culinary businesses—a large mural catches the eye, featuring a tropical rainforest, the Puerto Rican flag, and a depiction of a Taíno woman.

“We depend a lot on tourism. I’d say that about 99% of our customers are tourists... It’s fulfilling for us to see tourists leave satisfied with what they consume,” shared Iris Fuentes Crespo, proprietor of Bocalaítos del Yunque.

Fuentes Crespo’s eatery is one of the most sought-after when it comes to Puerto Rican food. Together with her husband, Ramón Arnau, they prepare a variety of local fried delicacies seasoned with the distinct flavor of Loíza, and offer them in various shapes and sizes.

Some of the most popular items include the eight-inch alcapurrias, round pastelillos, 18-ounce bacalaítos, and stuffed tostones. The establishment also offers vegan options.

The space is also home to: Ta-Con-Tó Mexican Food Truck, Y la dieta, ¿pa’ cuándo?, Foodnomic, Black Dragon Grill, PizzaDeLa, Bocalaítos Del Yunque, Pachy’s, and El Patio Bar.

“I feel satisfied because I’m giving many young people the opportunity to start their own businesses. It’s also a source of pride for me that these are young Puerto Ricans contributing to our economy,” stated Benito Castro, proprietor of the Food Truck Park.

The park has helped the growth of small merchants with different professions, backgrounds, and dreams. One such example is Abdimael Romero Ortiz and Luz Selenia Correa Filomeno, who recently launched Foodnomic, blending Asian and Puerto Rican flavors.

The young couple, who lost everything in the aftermath of Hurricane María, succeeded in launching their first establishment in 2020. Unfortunately, they had to halt operations due to health issues affecting one of their children.

However, the establishment reopened its doors last month, this time in the Río Grande park. They debuted in a very cozy area where they set up tables near the fruit trees.

“Beyond the quality and good taste, it’s about families having a space where they can create their own atmosphere and, at the same time, feel like they are dining at home with excellent service,” said Correa Filomeno, co-owner of the fine dining restaurant.

Likewise, the seasoned chef Romero Ortiz introduced a concept in the park where the main dishes were inspired by the tastes and preferences of his family.

These include the Puertorroll, a breaded sushi with mamposteao, steak, bacon, cream cheese, chicharrón, sofrito aioli, spicy mayo, and guava mayo; Mariscos al Tropicaleo; Pechuga Maui, teriyaki sauce with bacon, amarillos (fried ripe plantains), and peppers; and the tempting dessert, Dulce Bofetá.

“I encourage all local Puerto Ricans, from the island, to come and have the unique experience that is Pa’l Yunque Food Park,” the owner concluded.

The park is open Thursday to Sunday, from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. More information is available on Facebook.

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