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Old San Juan Puerto Rican Cuisine

The menu at this sophisticated, moderately priced family-style restaurant touts many favorites of the expatriated, and its old-world charm gives the impression it could be located in the middle of the historic neighborhood after which it's named. Puerto Rican cooking is defined by a mix of indigenous tropical ingredients occasionally boosted by bold dashes of Spanish spices, a pairing clearly evident in morcillas con guineas or blood sausage with boiled plantain. The $8.99 lunch buffet is a boffo way to enjoy island specialties ranging from garbanzos with pigs feet to piñón, a sort of plantain lasagna. Selections change daily, but the buffet consistently offers three different meats, four starches, and a couple of rice dishes (brace yourself for some serious carbo-shock). The traditional mofongo, a plantain mash, is treated with reverence and served with chicken broth for dipping. You can try it plain or in tandem with lobster and octopus, but most prefer the version riddled with crisp pork rinds. A petite take-out shop in the back allows you to bring a little of the island home with you.

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