Although many travelers may be familiar with La Ruta del Lechón in Cayey, Puerto Rico also has a lesser-known gastronomical route: La Ruta de la Longaniza on State Route 156, a winding road nestled in the mountains of La Cordillera Central.
Longaniza, a long, thin sausage, has roots in Spain and Portugal and was brought to the Americas by the colonizing countries. Many countries throughout Latin America have adopted longaniza and added unique touches. Puerto Rico’s is made with pork, adding annatto seed oil for a beautiful orangy hue. Served grilled or fried with side dishes or in arroz con longaniza, a traditional rice dish made with sazón, adobo, sofrito, and other spices, longaniza is a beloved ingredient in Puerto Rican cooking.
This route is busiest during weekends, when many locals go on chinchorreo with their families, hopping from restaurants and bars. A classic first stop is La Sombra, the pioneer of La Ruta de la Longaniza and its oldest establishment. Founded in 1936 by Don Pedro Ortiz and Doña María, it has been in the family ever since and features a variety of creative longaniza options—beside the classic pork—from chicken to fish.
In addition to sit-down restaurants, there are plenty of colmados, little shops that offer food, snacks, and cold beers. You can sip a Medalla (a Puerto Rican beer) and enjoy pincho (meat skewers) with longaniza and tostones at Cafetín Los Amigos, one of the first establishments you will encounter as you enter Route 156. The coffee and ice cream shop Gustitos del Campo offers donuts, fruit bowls, and cakes made in-house, as well as Puerto Rican cafesito. (The neighboring towns of Ciales and Jayuya are known for their coffee production.)
A short detour from Route 156, Las Cabañas de Doña Juana serves ribs made on an open fire (and piña coladas and mojitos) in the communal atmosphere of an open-air hut.
Know Before You Go
La Ruta de la Longaniza is busiest on the weekends. Make sure to get there before noon so you're not stuck in traffic. The winding road goes uphill, something to consider if you suffer from motion sickness.