Monday, May 31, 2010

Eating the Island, Part 5: La Parilla

Last year, on Route 3 East, we passed a woman holding two giant lobsters for sale.  Since that moment, my mission to eat a delicious, whole, fresh lobster in Puerto Rico began.  I finally succeeded at La Parilla.

Located in the heap of fried food kiosks in Luquillo, La Parilla stands apart from its neighbors as it serves fresh seafood and is home to some of the island's best chefs.

Upon going in I stared in lust at the lobster aquarium.  A server came out, plucked a lobster out of the water, and held him up for me to snap a photo.  He then asked if I'd like to hold it...I tried, but the flapping tail scared me and I opted to leave it to the professional.  I asked how much the lobster weighed and he told me he looked like a 2.5er but not quite 3.  He then plopped the shellfish on the scale and sure enough, 2.8 pounds.  This impressed me.  He also went on to tell us that if you're ever buying a lobster (both at market and in a restaurant) to stay under 3 pounds because anything bigger, you're just paying for shell and not meat.  This was great information as I often wondered if bigger lobsters were truly better.  Turns out, not really...they're just more expensive.

We were seated and our waiter asked us for drink and appetizer orders.  My boyfriends mom had a margarita, I stuck to my Medalla light lust, and my boyfriend stuck to his rum and coke.  For food, we ordered the seafood alcapurrias.  The drinks came out promptly, and he even brought us glasses of water--without us asking for them-- plus one for service.  The alcapurrias came out after about 10 minutes or so and made me forget about the okay alcapurrias I had a Metropol

La Parilla's alcapurrias were filled with fish, crab, squid, and octopus and were perfectly flavored.  The crust had a great flavor, I tasted hints of tomato and garlic.  The best part though is that I could taste the different bananas and roots that made the crispy casing.  Hands down, this is the best alcapurria that I've had in a restaurant.

When it came to main course selections, my boyfriend ordered a surf and turf stir-fry, his mom ordered a lobster stuffed red snapper that sounded identical to what I had at Aguaviva the night before, and to celebrate my recent graduation, I ordered a whole grilled lobster.  We chatted and looked out to the ocean for nearly half an hour and then came the parade of food.

The stir-fry mountain had and was garnished with a lobster tail, yes garnished with a lobster tail!  The dish had both rice and noodles and generous portions of steak, chicken, eggs, shrimp, red pepper, and sweet ham.  I didn't know it was possible to make one dish with so many ingredients.  The rice was soft and the noodles were perfectly cooked, impressive given the difference in textures.  Also, the sauce was a sweet soy sauce so it seasoned the meat while simultaneously complimenting the seafood.  My boyfriend is a picky eater and he was pleased 100 percent with this meal...this is how I know it was good (well, I also had a bite and it was AMAZING!).

The red snapper was identical to the presentation at Aguaviva, but thankfully the taste was not!  This snapper had flavor (although not like my Panamanian snapper) and the stuffing had visible lobster pieces in it as it should have since it was sauteed lobster with vegetables.  The batter on the fish was well seasoned and not too thick, also a plus.  I had a bite, it was good, better than Aguaviva's, but I was not wow-ed, but I've concluded that it is because I'm likely just bias to the Panamanian version of this dish.  Now for the most amazing of them lobster.

The lobster was plucked from the tank, split in half, covered in a garlic herb butter, and grilled.  As if this is not amazing enough, in the body and cranial cavity of the crustacean, the chef made a grilled mahi mahi in a creamy caper sauce. Both the lobster and mahi were perfectly cooked.  The caper sauce was salty and milky and complimented the density of the fish nicely.  The garlic butter used for the grilling of the lobster infused the tail with a beautiful, light, and herby flavor.  I devoured the sea animals and then realized I still had sides!  My salad was composed of greens, onions, tomato, and cucumber, and gandules and was topped with a sweet, house made, vinaigrette.  My arroz con habichuelas (rice with kidney beans) were perfectly cooked and the beans had a nice, porky broth that I spooned on my rice. Delicious and perfect, in fact it made me wish that I'd skipped Aguaviva all together.

As if I had not eaten enough, I of course indulged in dessert ordering flan de coco (coconut flan).  The flan was the perfect texture and not too coconutty. The bits of coconut on top were slightly toasted before being incorporated into the flan, which in my opinion is the only way to have coconut on a dessert because it elevates the flavor and changes the texture.  The serving was more than generous and all three of us could have shared, had my eating companions liked flan...oh well more for me!

If you're out at El Yunque or the beaches of Luquillo, you must stop at La Parilla for the meal.  The staff is bilingual, so don't be afraid if you don't speak Spanish, plus all of the seafood is insanely fresh!  Every order is made just for you, so the wait is well worth it.

La Parilla

Luquillo Beach Kiosks, to the left of Highway 3 if you're heading to Fajardo; right of Highway 3 if you're heading to San Juan
Luquillo, Puerto Rico
Kiosk #2

Overall Ranking
Food: 5 out of 5 fros
Service: 5 out of 5 fros


  1. Kashia: I just caught your sight while looking for Puerto Rico food, prior to an April cruise. Your insights and recommendations are great! We will definitely check out Ruta de Lechon and La Parilla during our 4 day pre-cruise stay in PR. Good luck on your food/celebrity quest...You have my vote.

    Bob Thomas
    Castro Valley, CA


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