People always looked at me incredulously when they find out that I have never been to Guavate. Well, after nearly five years of moving back to Puerto Rico, I can finally say that I have been to the island's quintessential gastronomic mecca. Mention Guavate, and lechon (roast pork) is what automatically comes to mind. Located in the town of Cayey, Guavate is only about 30 to 40 minutes south of San Juan. It attracts hordes of people, especially on weekends, and it's best to get there before midday. As you take exit #32 off of highway #52, bear left and you'll immediately find a number restaurants. Continue on this road for another 20 minutes or so until you see Los Pinos, which a friend of mine swears has the best lechon in Guavate.
Just a little further away from Los Pinos is El Rancho Original, where we had lunch. Turns out this was also where the Travel Channel's Samantha Brown had lechon when she came to the island. Guavate is a wonderful place to experience Puerto Rican culture. Not only is this mountain town a great destination known for its delectable lechoneras, but practically all of them have live salsa and merengue bands. The ambiance is lively and fun. Just remember, when visiting Guavate, go hungry and be prepared to eat your heart out! Buen provecho.