Looking For The Best "Lechón"
by SAHYLY YAMILE
December 18, 2002
The holidays on the island are a time for a lot of eating and drinking. A typical Christmas menu consists of all sorts of goodies, such as arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), meat-stuffed pasteles, morcilla, longaniza (a type of sausage), yucca, and tembleque (coconut-based desert). But it just wouldnt be a Puerto Rican Christmas without the enticing aroma of lechón asado.
Slowly roasting a pig on a rotating spit over an open pit with coal has become an art form. The process takes hours and a lot of preparation. So, if youre like me and would rather have someone else do the dirty work for you, lechoneras are the answer. These restaurants, mostly family owned, specialize in the confection of this typical dish. Open year-round, lechoneras sell approximately 35 lechóns per week, with weekends being their busiest days and, when the holidays arrive, lechón sales triple.
These establishments are located throughout the island and feature special holiday menus; some even have live music to entertain patrons while they savor their succulent pig. In the southeastern municipality of Cayey, a quaint little barrio named Guavate is home to almost a dozen lechoneras. Approximately 30 minutes from San Juan, Guavate is also famous for its lush vegetation and brisk climate and, every weekend, hundreds of people from around the island visit. Theres just something about munching on a piece of crunchy pork skin, also known locally as cuerito.
You dont have to travel to Guavate to enjoy lechón. Below is a listing of lechoneras around the island that are waiting for you. So, bring your appetite!
Lechonera El Paso (787) 731-9535, Barrio Hato Nuevo, Carr. 173, Km. 6.8, Guaynabo
Maritza & Héctor offer lechón, morcilla, guineos en escabeche, batata, arroz con gandules, pasteles, tembleque, arroz con dulce, sangría, and coquito. Open Friday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Offers catering service.
Lechonera Ferreira Restaurantes (787) 731-5110, Barrio Río, Carr. 834 Km. 0.7, Guaynabo
Jannette offers lechón, arroz con gandules, morcilla, pasteles, arroz con dulce, tembleque, and flan de coco. Open everyday, 9 a.m.-"until the last person leaves." The establishment lends itself for private activities without charge, only food consumption. Offers catering service.
Lechonera Los Flamboyanes (787) 261-4020, Barrio Candelaria Arenas, Carr. 865, Km. 4.9, Trujillo Alto
Brunilda & Enrique offer lechón, pavochón, arroz blanco con tocino, pasteles (place your order in advance), arroz con dulce, lechosa con queso blanco, and tembleque. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Offers catering service. On Saturday, Dec. 7, Santa Claus arrives (7 p.m.) with special gifts for kids.
Lechonera Restaurante El Pino (787) 283-9079, Barrio Carraízo Alto, Carr. 175, Km. 4.6, Trujillo Alto
Saúl Colón offers lechón, arroz con gandules, cuajito, guineos en escabeche, pavochón, viandas, pasteles, tembleque, flanes, and arroz con dulce. Open everyday 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
Lechonera Resto (787) 799-0778, Barrio Dajaos, Carr. 167, Km. 12.11, Bayamón
Rafí Resto offers lechón, arroz con gandules, pasteles, guineos en escabeche, yucca, arroz con dulce, and coquito. Open everyday 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
Lechonera Vergara (787) 288-2908, Barrio Minillas, Carr. 831, Km. 4.0, Bayamón
Ángel Luis Ortiz offers lechón, pavochón, arroz con gandules, guineos en escabeche, yucca, and desert. Open Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Lechonera Figueroa (787) 873-1080, Carr. 102, Km. 38.4, Sabana Grande
Samuel offers lechón, arroz con gandules, viandas, guineos en escabeche, pasteles, fritters, morcilla, tembleque, and coquito. Open everyday, 7:30 a.m.- 7:30 p.m.
Lechonera La Estación (787) 830-5634, Barrio Bejuco, Carr. 472, Km. 2.5, Isabela
Onix González offers lechón, pavochón, arroz con gandules, viandas, morcilla, barbecue ribs, mofongo, potato salad, cuajito, gandinga, tembleque, and coquito. Open everyday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. and will deliver.
Colmado Placita y Lechonera El Veterano (787) 849-0058, 1 Calle Comercio, Hormigueros
Jaime Santiago offers stuffed lechón, arroz con gandules, pasteles, and morcilla. Open everyday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Offers catering service. The lechón festival will be celebrated Dec. 6-8, with live music.
Lechonera Carmelo (787) 256-6452, Barrio Campo Rico, Carr. 185, Km. 4.5, Canóvanas
Carmelo Rivera offers lechón, arroz con gandules, guineos en escabeche, veal, pavochón, roast chicken, morcilla, tembleque, and coquito. Sundays live trio music and troubadours. Open everyday, 4 a.m.-10 p.m. Offers catering service. On Tuesday, Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve), there will be a troubadour party at 3 p.m.
Lechonera La Familia (787) 846-5744, Car 2, Km. 56.6, Barceloneta
Alberto "Pito" Ibánez offers lechón, arroz con gandules, pasteles, morcilla, longaniza, and guineos en escabeche. Open everyday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Offers catering service.
Lechonera Los Pino (787) 286-1917, Barrio Guavate, Carr. 184, Km. 27.7, Cayey
Tomás & Carmen offer lechón, arroz con gandules, morcilla, pasteles, longaniza, viandas, arroz con dulce, tembleque, dulce de lechosa and orange, flanes, and whatever else the client asks for. Fridays are bohemian night; Saturdays live traditional music, and Sundays live dance music. Los Pino opens everyday at 7 a.m., when they serve breakfast, and are open until 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Offers catering service with the entire roasted pig and, on holidays, feature music starting at 2 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 21, there will be a party to commemorate its anniversary, starting at 7 p.m.
Lechonera El Mojito (787) 738-8888, Barrio Beatriz, Carr. 184, Km. 32.9, Cayey
Haydee Colón offers lechón, arroz con gandules, morcilla, pasteles, pavochón, yucca, guineos en escabeche, viandas, longaniza, hors d'oeuvres, arroz con dulce, tembleque, flanes, and whatever else the client asks for. Open everyday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Offers catering service and will organize parties.