DMCs are ready to make everyone’s taste buds happy with dine arounds, food-centric events, and food tours.
If the path to the heart is through the stomach, then attendees will love sampling some of the island’s unique gastronomy during a stay on the island. Puerto Rico’s DMCs have close relationships with top-notch restaurants, can coordinate food tours and special meals, or provide local expertise when it comes to choosing caterers. While Puerto Rican cuisine is a huge part of the local culture, you won’t be limited to a criollo menu. Spanish, Italian, Mexican, Asian, and other options are readily available. Tasting menus or a la carte options are also widely available depending on the restaurants selected.
Some DMCs can help design memorable culinary experiences for groups. One example is RST’s The Many Faces of the Plantain, where they partner with a local restaurant to offer a cooking demo. Set in a private kitchen, your guests learn to prepare a Puerto Rican meal from scratch using fresh local ingredients. During the presentation, attendees will also have a chance to enjoy drinks and mingle. At the end, they will receive a souvenir pilón (mortar and pestle), as well as the chef’s recipes to practice at home. Other DMCs, like Castillo Tours, offer Old San Juan walking tours which incorporate stops at different restaurants to sample local delicacies.
Puerto Rico is a coffee lover’s paradise. RST also offers a Coffee & Culture experience which combines a tasting of island-grown coffees and barista lessons along with a walking tour in Old San Juan. You can also ask your DMC about visiting a coffee hacienda in the mountains where your group will get to see the process from harvesting the beans to serving the best cup of coffee. When RST offers this as a full event, your guests may visit a private coffee and cacao plantation where they’ll set up work stations and have participants actually be a part of the process. Afterward, tables and chairs are set out family-style under the shade of a beautiful terrace with live music and a delicious feast that incorporates organic, regional ingredients.
If your guests are stuck at the meeting venue during most of their visit, DMCs can bring the culinary experience to them. GSI offers welcome events where the décor recreates iconic spaces like La Placita de Santurce or Old San Juan's San Sebastián Street Festival. Tasting stations are set up for guests to try popular Puerto Rican dishes and try local chocolates and coffee.
It’s no surprise that one of the most popular stops is an interactive rum tasting station where guests can sample 30 flavored rums, infused with tropical ingredients such as soursop, starfruit, passion fruit, guava, and ginger. Traditional piña coladas can also be served in a fresh cut coconut, branded with the company’s logo, perfect for a cocktail reception. Along with food and drinks, guests will also be able to browse different local artisans and hand pick their own gifts.
Even if you have a very large group, DMCs will get creative in order to accommodate. Castillo Tours fielded a request to take 350 guests to Old San Juan for a team building event followed by dinner. To solve for the challenges of a group of that size in the 500-year-old, Spanish colonial area, Castillo Tours created a food truck park with almost a dozen food trucks, live music, artisans, and open bar at a park overlooking the San Juan Harbor. They also organized a scavenger hunt and pub crawl through the old city.
Nightlife is also part of local culinary culture and DMCs can help arrange an evening in La Placita de Santurce as part of most programs. La Placita is a farmer’s market by day but at night it comes to life with restaurants, bars, and clubs, locals and visitors mingling and dancing on the streets. The sheer amount of places to try, from high-end restaurants to chinchorros (rustic bars), can be overwhelming. DMCs handpick the best spots for you; some will even include a salsa dancing class.
GSI offers a gastronomic tour of La Placita, starting at a local favorite, La Alcapurria Quemá where your guests can enjoy authentic fritters (including the famous alcapurrias) and a cold beer. From there, the group moves to Asere Cubano Kitchen, where they will enjoy an array of popular Puerto Rican and Cuban dishes, family style. With dinner they can enjoy a variety of beverages including the classic mojito. Dessert is at El Almacén Speakeasy, a bar for serious cocktail lovers that requires a password to enter. To finish a fantastic experience, your group will head to Don Rey Bar and Cigar Shop for a cigar and a nightcap. Here they can sit on the sidewalk, drink, dance, and people watch like locals do.