A fresh catch in Vieques
VIEQUES, Puerto Rico - Since the Navy stopped its bombing exercises on this island five years ago, more tourists are visiting and word is out about Vieques's spectacular beaches. Several new restaurants, most of them pricey and requiring reservations, have opened to meet the demand. If you are looking to discover a gem, avoid the places everyone is talking about, which is how we happened upon Topacio, a Caribbean seafood restaurant hidden behind the main square of Isabel Segunda and serving up tasty local fare at great prices.
Members of the Cruz-Hernandez family chip in to make the 2-year-old restaurant a success. Chef Ivia relies on her sister Brendy to run the front of the house, while their mother and brother catch the fish that is the focus of most of their signature dishes. Imagine lobster and conch cooked in spicy Creole sauces, although the menu also includes steak, pork, and pasta. Plates come with a salad and rice and beans, fried plantains, or mofongo, mashed fried plantains redolent of garlic and flavored with bacon.
The food is delicious, the decor casual yet chic, and the bill for two, including drinks and dessert, was $50. And there was no wait for a table, even at dinnertime.
Topacio, Route 200, Pueblo Nuevo, 787-741-1179.
MARIE C. FRANKLIN