An American Boricua on the Road
By Wanda Benvenutti

Don Jíbaro's Note:
anda Benvenutti came to California a while back looking to see where the Boricuas were hiding... She found me and explained to me the remarkable quest she'd engaged upon. Looking for Puerto Rican communities throughout the USA and find what was different about them... That is, if the was anything to be different about them. It's been a few years now... This is an update of her remarkable quest

After nearly 17 years on the road finding nuestra gente for American Boricua, the thrill of stumbling upon something new on the road never fails to amaze me. Before packing up the Boricuamobile, I make sure the car is ready for another long drive. Now that summer is in full swing, your car will run much smoother with basic vehicle maintenance. Make a note of your mileage and be sure to keep up to date with oil changes. The last thing you want is to call a tow truck in the middle of nowhere because your engine overheated. Oil, brake and radiator fluids, brake pads, proper tire pressure, even new windshield wipers will make your vehicle road-trip ready.

Make a flexible itinerary with time to explore in between legs of your trip. Too often we rush through travel exactly the same way we rush through life: in a panic to see everything, we end up experiencing very little. Ask local people where they like to spend time. They know their community more than you ever will, and in my experience genuine curiosity will lead you toward all kinds of interesting adventures.

Before starting the long drive to Las Vegas, Nevada, I asked local Boricuas where to eat. My stomach was growling for tostones! The best comida de la isla is located in an unassuming strip mall on the west side of town. Sofrito Rico Authentic Puerto Rican Cuisine, 5201 W Charleston Blvd Ste 110 Las Vegas, NV 89146 (702) 822-6220, has friendly service and a very affordable, extensive menu.

The three-dollar alcapurrias and four-dollar pasteles are delicious. The restaurant starts serving lunch seven days a week at 11am. Just be sure to show up for dinner by 7:30pm, because this place closes early at 8. Since I’d never tried la comida de El Salvador, I decided to take a chance during my time in Omaha. Nebraska may seem like an unlikely place for both Puerto Ricans to live and to find authentic Salvadoran food, yet Pupusería El Rinconcito, 2308 N St, Omaha, NE 68107 (402) 991-5452, is worth the trip. The pupusas were the comfort food of dreams.

If you are on vacation in Miami Beach, you definitely want to treat yourself and savor the food of Boricua Chef Jose Mendin. His award-winning restaurant, Pubbelly, 1418 20th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (305) 532-7555, is one of my favorite places to eat in all of South Florida. Reservations are recommended for this high-end gastropub, where the food is best described as Asian-fusion small plates with a Puerto Rican twist. The garlic scallops are so good that if you order this dish, you might not want to share!

Photo Credits  ©Wanda Benvenutti
B/W Photo ©Grayson Dantzic

Award-winning Boricua Chef Jose Mendin (right) checks dinner orders at his
Miami Beach restaurant Pubbelly.

My favorite food on the road, tostones during a trip to Florida.

A little piece of la isla: Pan de agua fresh every morning at the grocery

Tropical flowers and plants in the Coral Gables barrio of Miami, Florida.

Wanda Benvenutti in the Boricuamobile on a recent trip to Asheville, North


Wanda Benvenutti is a first generation Puerto Rican photojournalist traveling throughout  all 50 of the United States. To support and learn more about her journey documenting Boricua life in North America:

Wanda's YouTube channel



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