Across the street from the airport and nestled awkwardly next to a McDonalds is Bebo's BBQ. Bebo's is a must eat while in Puerto Rico and usually my boyfriend and I hit it up after arrival or before departure. This year, we broke our tradition as we at at Metropol on our first day with his mother, but on our way out to the beach on Sunday, we stopped at Bebo's as it was on our way.
First things first: Bebo's is no fancy hoity toity eating establishment. Instead, it is a proletariat cheap eat. Seating is outside on first come, first serve picnic tables; there is no parking, but essentially Bebo's patrons have usurped the McDonald's parking lot; and the menu is here, right in front of your face. Note the whole chickens, slabs of ribs, sausage rings, and whole pig parts. This is a street foodie's paradise.
Chicken is their staple, the star of the show and a must. But, to be fair Bebo's also offers ribs, sausages, and roasted pork. I ordered half a chicken (the smallest order available) and the woman lovingly grabbed my bird from the window, took him to the back, and hacked him into some sort of reasonable(ish) portion and handed me a plate filled with some of the best BBQ I've ever had.
I then ordered a container of arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas, seasoned with achote, pork, and other seasonings), yuca con cebolla (yuca with onions that have been slighly cooked in olive oil), and morcilla (blood sausage). All of the portions (if you can't tell by the chicken) are very generous, and most are priced by weight. The serving of rice was more than generous and I really liked how she took the time to find me the best pieces of yucca (soft and not stringy) and the softest onions. Plus, even though I asked for a little bit, and she weighed that little bit, she went back for more and piled it on telling me "Eres muy flaquita (You are very skinny)!" All apart of Bebo's charm. I just smiled (greedily) and dreamed of that yuca marriage that was going to happen with my chicken! The final thing to be plated was the blood sausage, which was cut fresh just for me from a giant ring of meat. Excellent. To top our meal, I had a Medalla Light (Puerto Rico's beer) and my boyfriend had a Malta India, we grabbed a bench, and began to act gluttonously.
The rice was amazing! Flavorful and moist, the saltiness of the pork shined, but the aromatics were also present. The gandules weren't overcooked, but were perfect with the correct amount of give without being mush. The best part of the rice for me is finding bits of sausage and pernil (roasted pork) that are hidden throughout the rice. Given its complexity and flavor, the rice itself could easily be a meal.
The yuca was okay, what ruined it for me was how oily and undercooked the onions were (despite her hunt for the softest ones). I'd had better from Bebo's in the past and was a bit surprised to get a subpar tuber.
However, it wasn't inedible so I just ditched the onions and started mixing the yuca with the blood sausage. Yes, that is right. Blood sausage. In Puerto Rico, blood sausage is spicy. Its filled with rice, onions, paprika, and I'm sure the classics: adobo, sofrito, recaito. After this preparation the sausages are usually fried, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Bebo's grills them since it is a BBQ establishment. Although that may look to be a grainy, black, unappetizing hot mess, the blood sausage was incredibly flavorful! I first tried it in Argentina, but I must say the Puerto Rican variation has far more flavor. One thing that it does take some getting used to is the texture as the rice makes it kind of mushy, so if you're a textured driven eater, this may not be your cup of tea. That's okay though, because Bebo's also offers traditional pork sausages which they make, and they are delicious.
Now, back to that chicken, you know...the star. The skin was crisp and well seasoned. I'm not sure what they season it with, I would say heaven, but I tried to crack the code and concluded it was some sort of dry rub composed of the usual cast of characters in Puerto Rican cuisine. The meat was so juicy (like there is a pool of chicken awesomeness collecting on the plate!) that it fell of the bone, and if you wanted to feel polite and use the plastic knife provided, it glided through like butter.
The best part about Bebos you ask? We got all of this food for $14.98! Oh and if you're feeling really lucky, you could earn the cost of your meal back by playing the slots located near the picnic tables.
So skip the $12 wilted airplane sandwich and stop at Bebo's before you leave the island. Have a beer (or a drink since Bebo's has a full bar), some chicken, delicious rice, and traditional sides for an insanely low price. It's literally right across the street from the airport, next to the McDonalds. To get there from the interstate, just take the Marginal de Los Angeles exit and follow the frontage road to the best chicken and rice ever.
Marginal Los Angeles
Off of I-20, Isla Verde, Carolina, Puerto Rico
Food: 5 out of 5 fros
Service: 4 out of 5 fros