One of the challenges that Puerto Rico has in global cuisine is that restaurants will completely modify their authentic recipes for the locals. It is not strange to walk into a Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese restaurant and find Mofongo, Tostones, and Carne Frita. Although I know some modifications need to be made to keep a restaurant running on the island, I think we need a few places that maintain the integrity of the history behind their food so others can enjoy as if they were visiting their country.
Ali Baba is Authentic Turkish Cuisine
About a year ago, we were invited by our neighbor Djat to visit a Turkish restaurant named Ali Baba. I fast forward to about a month ago and here we are eating with our friend Nando while Djat’s son, Nabil who works at the restaurant, welcomes us.
Catering to Special Diets
If you're visiting Ali Baba, make a reservation and let them know what special dietary requests you have, and they will tell you what they can do and can’t do. I am so use to walking to a restaurant and having one or no options, that when they go a bit further and cater to my needs it enhances the experience significantly.
The Special Vegan Lavash
I was quickly informed that since I had made a reservation and I am vegan, they made Lavash, a Turkish bread without dairy or eggs so I could enjoy a vegan version of it. It is even more difficult to have a restaurant cater to special diets on the island where vegan food means iceberg lettuce and tomatoes.
Ask for the Cucumber Martini
Nabil offered to make me a Cucumber Martini ( I think it's a secret Bar Menu Item) and with the warm tropical night, the recommendation was refreshing and went perfect with my appetizers.
For the meal we started with Turkish Tea and our daughter Daniela had some Falafels. I also ordered some Tabouleh and Hummus which was extraordinary.
I personally ordered the Vegetable casserole and Lucy ordered the Vegetable Moussaka. Our friend Nando went with the Ottoman Casserole which he enjoyed.
Turkish Dessert and Coffee
For dessert Nando tried the Baklava and I decided to have some Turkish black coffee.
What I really like about the restaurant is that it is very accessible in Condado right in front of our old friends at the San Juan Marriott Condado but yet its sort of not in the busy movement of Ashford Avenue. The restaurant is cozy and you can see the chefs preparing the food through a window and yet its relaxing enough where you can sit to have a romantic dinner or just have dinner with family and friends.
Next time you're in Condado and you want to try some Turkish Cuisine mixed with great service and perfect ambiance stop by Ali Baba. I want to thank Chef Suleyman, Nabil, and the rest of the Ali Baba staff for creating a unique experience.
This post was originally published at Veglatino.com and although we will spotlight restaurants that are vegan and vegetarian this particular restaurant has a complete menu with options for the meat eaters.
When I find a place that has Vegan options in Puerto Rico I feel need to share it with you so you can help me spread the word.
I shared on my personal blog part of the awesome experience I had a few days ago during a business lunch at SOGO Asian Bistro in San Juan.
The next day I took my family for lunch and here is a quick review of the delicious and well prepared meal we enjoyed.
Fast Service with a Smile
We got there during the lunch hour rush which seemed pretty packed. As the patrons left to get back to their duties, we sat and enjoyed the rest of our meal.
That said if you want a good meal at a great value and don’t have more than an hour for a lunch break, the food is served in a very timely manner.
Vegan Asian Appetizers
We started our meal when the owner Kahoo, (a good friend of mine) recommended ordering sautéed vegetables as a side and some spring rolls. They were both great options.
We also started off with some Jasmine tea to set a relaxing tone to our lunch.
Vegan Asian Entrees
When I visit a restaurant with Vegan options, I usually ask for as many vegan food items as I can fit in my stomach (I hope my personal trainer is not reading this).
I ordered a bento box which included the following:
- Salad with Ginger Dressing
- Fried Vegetable Rice
- Sautéed Vegetables
- Veggie Sushi Roll
For my daughter (and me) I ordered fried tofu with black mushrooms and Lucy ordered a few sushi vegetable rolls that where all delicious.
After our entrees, we had dessert which were Lychee Fruit in a cute martini glass.
Overall the meal was great and very tasty; something difficult for many regular restaurants when they prepare vegan options.
I am so thankful for Kahoo and how he went the extra mile to cater to our lifestyle, the attention to detail he paid to Daniela, so we could have one of the best meals in a long time.
If you are near San Juan and you’re seeking some vegan eats with an Asian, twist feel free to stop by SOGO Asian Bistro.
More About SOGO Asian BistroSOGO Asian Bistro Centro Comercial San Francisco
San Juan, Puerto Rico (787) 766-0111
We have known about Peace N Loaf’s Pizzeria since they opened but could not align with their time schedule when in the San Juan Metro Area. We usually visit San Juan early in the day and Peace n Loaf thankfully is open when most other vegan and vegetarian friendly places are closed. We have already mentioned consuming Isa and Stephanie’s artisanal bread at the local Organic Market In La Placita de la Roosevelt many times. Since we moved to the metro area about two weeks ago, we decided to go and have dinner at the first and only vegetarian/vegan friendly pizzeria.
The Atmosphere and Menu
When we visited the restaurant, the ladies were just coming back from vacation/business trip out in the states where Stephanie mentioned that they would be opening up another Peace N Loaf in her home town in Ohio. Raul and I loved the decoration and homey feel of the place. The menu was on the wall with their specials, appetizers, and creative use of space. The wall serves as a chalk board (with chalk board paint) and eliminates paper menus and reduces the printing of new menus if something changes.
The Food and Drinks
Raul and I have said this many times; Stephanie is a master at selling her bread at the market and so it was no surprise to us that the same service we get at the market was the same service we got at the pizzeria; Excellent! She explained the cheese options which were either vegan or regular mozzarrella. A majority of the ingredients used at the pizzeria are local organics and the best thing is that if you have any type of allergy, you can let them know in advance.
We ordered the Super Veggie (mushrooms, sun dried tomato, vegan cheese, black olives, green peppers, onions and red peppers) and hummus with bread and vegan jalapeño cheese. The hummus was so creamy that our daughter had a blast dipping away and eating. We did not let the hummus go to waste and ask for more bread. The drink options we chose were watermelon and parcha juice made in-house. Don’t expect to be served in paper plates or cups. No straws are kept in the restaurant. Stephanie has commented to us in previous discussions that straws need to be eliminated everywhere. The ladies have really made the restaurant as eco-friendly as they possibly can.
Once the pizza came out, it was delicious. The crust they use is free of potassium bromate and at times they do have gluten free pizza crust (Corrected below thanks to Stephanie). I like a thin crust with an even amount of cheese and sauce. The pizza was just the way I like it and our daughter enjoyed eating at the restaurant. If you don’t want pizza, you can order a melt. You can even buy a loaf of bread and take a piece of the pizzeria home. At the end of our meal we finally got to meet Isa, after so many years of interacting with her via Twitter.
We will be visiting Peace n Loaf more often and one of our primary places to eat since we want to support local and vegan friendly places.
We give Peace n Loaf 10 stars and recommend you stopping by the only vegetarian pizzeria in Puerto Rico.
- 1402 Avenida Americo Miranda Caparra Terrace, PR
- +1 787-293-7773