Around the World in Houston: Discover Puerto Rico

Photo courtesy of Puerto Rican & Cuban Festival

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences.Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

From Puerto Rican and Caribbean heritage festivals to cultural meetups and restaurants dishing out mofongo and pasteles, Houston is lined with ways to experience the vibrancy of Puerto Rico.

Annual Festivals & Cultural Events

  • Puerto Rican & Cuban Festival This annual festival celebrates Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican heritage and culture via traditional food and drink, live music, and dancing performances, from salsa and merengue to plena and bachata, family-friendly activities, arts and crafts, a car show, and local businesses.
  • Houston Caribbean Festival Catch the street parade, dance to island music, and get a taste of Caribbean culture at this annual family-friendly festival. The 2018 festival is set for Sunday, July 8 at the Bayou City Event Center.
  • Roots Reggae HoustonCelebrate Caribbean culture and reggae music at this outdoor music festival. The 2018 festival is set for Saturday, October 6.
  • Houston Caribbean Film Festival Held in June every year (National Caribbean American Heritage Month), the Houston Caribbean Film Festival is dedicated to “embracing and promoting the lush Caribbean culture through the eye of the director’s lens.” Support Caribbean films, filmmakers, screenwriters, producers, and directors in the Caribbean basin while enjoying series of meet-and-greets and interviews throughout the Greater Houston Area.

Museums & Cultural Organizations

  • Society of Puerto Ricans of Greater Houston This local nonprofit was founded to promote the Puerto Rican culture via social events, highlighting historical, linguistic, and artistic achievements of Puerto Ricans throughout the world. Check out its Facebook page for updates and upcoming events.
  • The Caribbean American Heritage Foundation of Texas This foundation promotes public awareness and appreciation for the variety of Caribbean cultures, sponsoring cultural events such as storytelling, poetry, dramatic presentations, sporting event exhibitions and picnics, empowering youth and businesses, and providing seminars, scholarships, and economic opportunities.
  • Latin American and Caribbean Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston This departments boasts a core collection of modern and contemporary art with more than 550 emblematic from Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and works by Latino artists in the United States.
  • Talento Bilingüe de Houston Located in the East End, this bilingual, non-profit cultural center strives to enhance Houston’s Latino arts experience through collaboration, education, and preservation.

Puerto Rican Food & Drink

Restaurants, Cafes & Food Trucks

  • Araguaney & La Boricua Food Truck This fusion food trucks blends Puerto Rican and Venezuelen cuisine.
  • Jenny from the Block This Galveston-area food truck focuses on Puerto Rican flavors, with offerings including alcapurria fritters, yucca fries, jibarito sandwiches, and mofongo con shrimp criollo.
  • La Casa del MofongoYou’ll find all kinds of mofongo at this Caribbean and Latin American restaurant. Get the mashed plantain dish served with everything from garlic pork and fried fish to shrimp stew and crispy chicken skin.
  • Mi Garita Get a tate of Puerto Rico via tostones, arroz con gandules, rellenos, pastelillos, maduros, and mofongo at this roaming food truck. You’ll also find Puerto Rican candy and sodas. Follow along on Facebook to see where the truck stops next.
  • Punta Cana Caribbean Restaurant This northside Caribbean spot focuses on the flavors of the Dominican and Puerto Rico, with authentic dishes including bistec encebollado, bacalao guisado, chicharrón de pollo, alcapurria (stuffed yucca fritters), and a lineup of mofongos topped with things like garlic shrimp, fried pork skin, and adobo beef steak.
  • Senor Juan Dreamed up a native from Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, this tasty food truck pumps out traditional specialties like mofongo, arroz con gandules (yellow rice with pigeon peas) and pasteles, or Puerto Rican-style plantain tamales.
  • Tex-Chick Puertorrican Restaurant This tiny Montrose haunt rocks big flavor in the form of pastelitos (meat pies) and mofongo with bistec encebollado (steak and onion), bacalao (cod) and pollo guisado (chicken stew).

Grocery Stores

  • Fiesta Mart Shop for plantains, rice, beans, fruit nectars, meat and seafood, and spices like garlic, allspice, coriander, and bay leaves at these popular grocery stores.

Language Classes, Education Centers, Groups & Meet-Ups

  • Habla Houston Learn to speak Spanish through weekly classes, interactive meetups and more.
  • Spanish over Coffee Brush up on your Spanish language skills with all-level classes that help you learn through conversation. Program experiences include dinner parties, game nights, scavenger hunts, and grocery shopping.
  • Houston’s Puerto Rican Culture Meetup This public meetup brings together enthusiasts looking to celebrate the culture of Puerto Rico, whether you are Puerto Rican or are looking to relive your last trip.
  • Houston Caribbean Professionals Association This group was created for professionals of Caribbean heritage who are looking for a network and a hub of inspiration and collaboration between like-minded individuals.
  • Houston Caribbean Social Meetup Join fellow Caribbeans around the Houston community to build a network of friendship and support.
  • Latin Women’s Initiative This nonprofit organization strives to make difference in the lives of Latin women and their families by providing both financial and volunteer support to several local nonprofit organizations in the Houston community.
  • Strictly Street Salsa Try your hand at the street salsa program, which guides you from beginner to advance skills in salsa (casino), merengue, bachata, rueda, and other Latin dances. The studio also offers Latin drumming classes.

Other Notables

  • Club Tropicana Dance the night away to Latin music at one of Houston’s hottest dance clubs, which hosts people from all over the world.
  • Metropolis & Extravaganza Check out Caribbean and Latin mixes on Friday and Latin Saturdays at this happening dance and nightclub.
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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .