Eating my way through the Dominican Republic

Groan… another food post?! About the Dominican Republic? Yes of course!! Maybe you missed the Dominican Food Week series (part 2 and part 3) from when I lived in Santo Domingo, but have no fear. I was back in June to visit friends and family and also attend a friends’ wedding at a resort. It was great to be back and to see everyone. Besides the three days at the resort, we spent the rest of the week in the capital, Santo Domingo, driving around and spending time at people’s houses. Since we were in town only for a short time, everyone wanted to feed us! I’m not complaining.

I noticed a few changes in the country since I’ve been back. Good ones, mind you. While I had a mixed experience living there, this trip as a visitor was absolutely enjoyable. I got to spend time with friends and revisiting my favorite eateries in the capital. We even stayed in one of my old apartments right in center city (Distrito Nacional).

First, the country was very clean. The roads looked to be recently repaved, and there was practically no trash. I’ve been told this often happens when there’s a change in elected officials. Regardless, it was nice to see the capital in top shape. Second, they have UBER! This is a game changer as it gave me much anxiety to call a cab company to get from place to place when I couldn’t rely on public transportation after dark.  While I have a reliable taxista who I would WhatsApp to ask for a ride, if he wasn’t working, it always felt like a risk to call for a cab. Third, I felt much safer in the city. Perhaps I arrived in a better shape of mind, but on one walk that I took alone to a nearby cafe I received not one catcall. This never happened before, and it was noticeable.

A friend picked us up from the airport and as per tradition, brought us straight to Boca Chica beach for fried fish. When I lived there, I did not eat fish, I was a very strict vegetarian. I do not regret this, but now that I am pescatarian it is much easier to eat at restaurants and get varied protein.

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Boca Chica beach, super clean!
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Boca Chico’s famous grilled fish: Chillo, served with tostones and batata

Since we only had a few days in the capital, we made the most of it by going to some fancy jaunts. One night we took two friends to Laurel Restaurant, an upscale restaurant near the school where I used to work. I had been there once – when my father came to visit and I wanted to show him the nicer side of the city. It was a memorable experience so I was happy to have the opportunity to go back.

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Seafood ravioli at Laurel in Santo Domingo

The next day, of course I had to get my favorite ice cream, Helados Bon! At the location we went they also had the option of Yogen Fruz which looked more appetizing so I had a cherry-mango frozen yogurt. So refreshing on a hot day.

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Yogen Fruz – frogen yogurt, mango and cherry flavor

One morning, I took my aforementioned walk through the neighborhood of Evaristo Morales and went to Pasteleria del Jardines. I had been here only once (when a friend was visiting from the United States and I wanted to show off), and while it is a bit overpriced for what I ate, it’s certainly worth it in American dollars. The meal shown below would have taken about two hours of work to afford. It was delicious: fresh chinola (passionfruit) juice, mangu (boiled and mashed plantains), and fried eggs.

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Breakfast at Pasteleria del Jardin

Of course, we had to have American cuisine one day and got KFC at Acropolis Mall. I had the fries.

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Fried chicken and fries at KFC

Some of our friends invited us over for a taco night, where they made an assortment of goodies to put on your tortilla.

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Taco night at a friends’ house

Another morning we went to Barra Payan (they have a few locations – one in Zona Colonial and another off Avenida Churchill) for fresh smoothies and cheap sandwiches. Barra Payan is a great greasy late night snack after a night out, or a great greasy way to start your day.

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Barra Payan breakfast: egg burger with cheese.

I also wanted to share a ‘quick’ lunch option I saw at a supermarket… no comments, and no prep required!

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I don’t ask questions

The day before we left, the friend who picked us up from the airport invited us over for a big Dominican lunch. His mother made an incredible meal. On the table below you see white rice, beans, vegetables, okra, eggplant, tostones, chicken, and avocado. I am sure this took her all day to prepare and it was filling and delicious.

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Typical Dominican lunch at a friends’ house
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Vegetarian offerings

On our last night, we met up with the newlyweds who were back in the capital for some late night Chinese food (pica pollo). I just love the bright colors at the counter.

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Late night Chinese food

And finally, a stealth picture from the road of a street vendor selling snacks.

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SNACKS

There you have it, thank you for coming along on this edible journey with me through the capital. What would you like to try?

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