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Canela Cafe, A Modern Puerto Rican Restaurant in Ponce

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Canela Cafe, A Modern Puerto Rican Restaurant in Ponce

The pan-seared scallops are a great way to kick off your meal.

Photo © Zain Deane

The Bottom Line

It's a bit removed from the historic heart of Ponce, but worth a trip for its excellent food that arftully blends Puerto Rican, Spanish, and continental fare. This is the kind of food you typically find in the modern bistros of Old San Juan, but it fits right at home in Puerto Rico's beautiful Second City.

Pros

  • Excellent and creative fare with a menu broad enough to offer something for everyone.
  • The decor is modern, casual, and elegant, indicative of the presentation on the plate.

Cons

  • A taxi ride away from the Plaza las Delicias in the city center.
  • A bit pricier than your typical Ponce eateries.

Description

  • From tapas to desserts, Canela delivers a hearty, tasty, and refined dining experience.
  • While most dishes aren't typical Puerto Rican fare, one tasty exception is the garlic shrimp with mofongo.
  • If you're looking for lighter fare, opt for the tapas bar and enjoy snacking on the smaller plates.

Guide Review - Canela Cafe, A Modern Puerto Rican Restaurant in Ponce

Ponce, Puerto Rico's "Second City," is known for its old-fashioned style, colonial beauty, and quaint charm. But Canela Cafe takes a break from the old and ushers in a modern, stylish and deliciously fresh take on Puerto Rican classics.

This isn't the place to find traditional comida criolla, which is readily available throughout the island. Instead, you'll find a blend of Spanish and Puerto Rican flavors, along with creative combinations served with a flair for presentation and a nose for ingredients.

Start with the tapas menu, which features Old World fare like chorizo (sausage), boquerones al vinagre (anchovies marinated in vinegar), and tortilla española (a type of Spanish omelet). There's little to do with Puerto Rico on this part of the menu, but I would sample one or two dishes before moving on.

The appetizers have some of the best dishes on the menu. My favorite here was the plump scallops perfectly pan-fired in a veal sauce with bacon and served on a bed of mashed yuca (cassava). Another can't-miss choice is the codfish and yuca croquettes in a passion-fruit aioli sauce.

Moving on to the main course, you'll find familiar culinary foods from the island, like mofongo and asopao, even if they're not quite traditional recipes (the cilantro mofongo and seafood asopao are rare finds). But you'll also find a selection of dishes with only a touch of the Caribbean in them. In other words, the menu is diverse enough to offer something for everyone.

Finally, leave room for the dessert menu, which features a few award-winning items. I went with the less inventive but substantially scrumptious profiteroles, served with pistachio ice cream. A more 'Rican choice is the Bananas al Ron Barrilito, bananas flambeed in rum with butter, brown sugar, and cinammon.

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