This year we spent Christmas with Aida's family in sunny Puerto Rico! While there we visited a unique restaurant called Vaca Brava, which specializes in over the top beef dishes. This large, open air restaurant is nestled in the mountains of the town of Barranquitas. The atmosphere is very family friendly, the prices are reasonable considering the amount of food, and the service is excellent. We had an awesome time while dinning at Vaca Brava...we definitely recommend giving it a try when visiting Puerto Rico!
To start we shared a few appetizer platters, which came full of traditional Puerto Rican bites such as beef empanadas and pasteles. The best component were by far the mini rice pasteles. Pasteles are meat pastries wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled. These were moist and packed full of flavor! Absolutely delicious!
The dishes at Vaca Brava are meant to be shared. We were a group of nine people and therefore choose to share three dishes. The first was the Carne Ahumada (Smoked Meat). The meat literally melted in our mouth! It took the group about 30 seconds to finish the whole thing! This dish was a delectable part of our meal. A must have when visiting Vaca Brava!
Next came Los Cuernos (The Horns), which are two giant skewers of beef, covered in a creamy cheese sauce on top of tostones (fried green plantains) served with a side of mushroom sauce. The beef was well seasoned, juicy, and very tender. The presentation was like nothing we have ever seen before! This dish makes you stop and say "wow" when it reaches the table. It is perfect for sharing and delicious to eat!
The second of Vaca Brava's signature dishes we ordered was El Tendedero, which is literally a meat clothing line composed of chicken, skirt steak, sausage, and ribs. Underneath the meat there is a container full of hot coals to keep the food warm; the heat from the coals made some of the meats dry out after a while. This dish comes with a side of yellow rice and french fries. All the meats on the clothing line were well seasoned and tasty; especially the chicken! The rice had a smokey, unique, savory flavor which complemented the protein perfectly! El Tendedero is unquestionably a fun, different, tasteful dish! Another must have when eating at Vaca Brava!
Aida is a huge fan of Mojitos and so she decided to accompany her meal with one. Vaca Brava's mojito was anything but watered down. This is a strong drink full of citrus and mint. Delicious!
Last but not least came time for dessert. We choose to share a few options, such as the Fried Cheesecake. However, the Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream stood out from the crowd. The cake itself was extremely moist. The chocolate flavor was not overwhelming. The vanilla ice cream complemented the other flavors in this dessert perfectly. A great ending to our meal!
Vaca Brava is a great family restaurant. We suggest coming in with an empty stomach, a large group, and an open mind. Their plating and portions are both over the top. The ambiance is typical of Puerto Rico; wood construction, open air, and plenty of music! We had a blast!
For more information on Vaca Brava's menu and locations please visit http://www.restaurantvacabrava.com.