Big Lee: Puerto Plata’s Most Loved Expat and Restaurateur

Meet Puerto Plata’s lovable and local celebrity Big Lee Peak. Bored with his life in the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, Big Lee was within 3 years of retiring when he decided to start taking vacations to help him decide where to spend his retirement. “I saw a ’60 Minutes’ segment on retiring outside the US where your money can go further. I went to Cancun where I joined a timeshare and then to Puerto Plata and Punta Cana. I’m so glad that I chose Puerto Plata; it is a real town with real people with real culture and history.”

Big Lee is the proud owner of the very popular Big Lee’s Beach Bar, which is located on the Malecón and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Big Lee’s Beach Bar employs 11 locals and a loyal dog named Spot.

After moving to Puerto Plata, what inspired you to open a restaurant/bar, and how did you decide on the type of restaurant/bar, as well as the area?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABig Lee: I’m going to give you some history first. I met a girl, came back in 6 months and in 1 year I retired. My kids graduated & moved across the US. Might as well move down since the relationship didn’t work out. I’m bored out of my mind after 2.5 years of just sitting around on the computer and watching cable TV. I started talking to people in the local watering hole about my interest in opening a sports bar. The cook heard that I was interested in opening a bar and said that she wanted to work for me because the manager at her bar wasn’t her favorite. I spent 3 months looking for the right location. I wanted to find 2 buildings together, one for the tourists to watch the ocean and one for the expats to sit on the street.

We didn’t start off with food until after one year to see if the business will succeed. I know I succeeded when I know that I have two hundred reviews on TripAdvisor with 4.9 stars. Everyone who has rated loves our fish & chips or our burgers & fries. Not a restaurant but bar with a grill with a very limited menu.   We do 14 dishes and I try to do them spectacularly. Our fish is bought every day, sea bass, but it’s frozen because it’s caught deep at sea. Everything else is prepared fresh. We peel & slice every potato for fries and we make homemade tartar sauce.  Every day we buy meat, potatoes, chicken and start serving at 9 am until 8 pm. We’re starting to branch out with a few specials every now and again to please as many as possible.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe majority of Big Lee’s clientele are Canadian and American expatriates with 20% Dominican locals frequenting his establishment as well. “We play soft classic rock from around the world from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. For three and a half years that we’ve been open, we’ve been rate the number one bar in Puerto Plata and the number one bar in the Dominican Republic.” Big Lee’s Beach Bar is also rated #2 on TripAdvisor’s list of Top Things to Do in Puerto Plata.

Big Lee’s road to becoming the number one bar in the Dominican Republic is also a story of finding love. The cook mentioned above who was not too thrilled about working for her previous boss is now his fiancé.

Big Lee: So, I would love to finish telling you the story about how the girl that said she would never date me, but only work for me. I found the place, opened it up, called her and hired her. I was smitten with her. Worked with me for 3 months, then finally hugged and kissed me. We’re more than 3 years later, we’re engaged and we had a baby.

[Laughing] My vasectomy didn’t work so we are proud. We are moving across the street from her parents in a currently remodeled house. We’re getting married at the end of this year or the beginning of next. She’s now my boss because I can’t own [the bar] because it’s city property.

My baby is 1 year, 4 months. Her name is Marilee. My fiancé’s name is Mariela and she wanted a combination of Mariela and Lee. Thank goodness it was a girl because there was no combination for a boy!

We’ve touched on bits and pieces on your secret recipe to success. Do you think it’s you as the celebrity or combination of location/celebrity, the food, the atmosphere…what is your key to success?

Big Lee: [I’m] always around people. If I was going to open a business, I want to read people, shake their hand, thank them for stopping, say thank you for coming. I can’t imagine running a business any other way. There’s so much competition; places to eat and drink. I want [people] to come to my bar and I want them to return. Our food is spectacular. It’s as good of a cheeseburger as you’re ever going to get around the world. I search for the best meat, bun, lettuce, tomato, pickle. The food is excellent. I had to go through all the different hotdogs at all the grocery stores here just to find one that is edible. It’s spectacular. It’s a jumbo hot dog that tastes like home.

It’s a combination of me (the celebrity), and greeting everyone and the food but the views are spectacular. We are less than 100 feet from the ocean. Two islands are right off our shore. There is a statue of Neptune. I have a row of flags, looks like the United Nations. People find their flag and are really excited. If they don’t find their flag [here], they go find it and bring me one. We are within 2 miles of Mount Isabel De Torres, which is just gorgeous.

In addition to his busy schedule running his bar, Big Lee is also involved in philanthropic endeavors. In 2014 alone, Big Lee helped supply 40 children with back to school clothing and school supplies. With the help of donations and his ever-increasing popularity, in December 2014 Big Lee took 16 children and 2 mothers Christmas shopping. He also helps out the local dog association by helping to organize over 1000 street cats and dogs.

So, for those of you who are wondering, we certainly had to ask!

Where did the name Big Lee come from?

Big Lee: I was 325 lbs, wearing a 4X shirt, 50-inch belt with my belly hanging over; I was a huge man. I weigh 250 lbs now, there are no drive-thru’s, everything is fresh, not processed. [Laughing] They tease me and say that I need to rename it Skinny Lee’s or get the red circle with the slash through it to go over “Big” — formally known as “Big Lee’s!”

What advice can you give an expat who would like to open a restaurant/bar of their own?  

Big Lee: If you are going to open a business, no matter where but especially here in the Dominican Republic, put your entire heart and personality into it and do it with a 100% effort.  That is what I have done and it has worked.

Big Lee plans to expand to other locations throughout the Dominican Republic and with the first Carnival Cruise ships expected in October 2015, he will become even more busy. Big Lee’s Beach Bar is fast becoming a brand. Check him out in an upcoming JetBlue inflight magazine.

Travel Tips: Eating Healthy on Vacation – Part 2

When dining at your vacation destination, it is best not to skip eating a wholesome breakfast. Like Mom says, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and there is a lot of truth to this saying. Not only will it speed up your metabolism for the day, but eating breakfast will also help to ensure that you don’t eat too much throughout the day. Options such as fruits, light toast or hardboiled eggs are a great source of energy. Our personal favorite when traveling is a vegetable and egg white omelet for breakfast. Stay away from heavy meats such as sausage and bacon. Not only will the meat drag you down throughout the morning but also the fat content is extremely high.

When eating lunch and dinner during your vacation, try to always incorporate high protein lean meats with vegetables. Grilled, broiled and steamed options are preferable over fried food. Ask your server not to cook with butter or heavy oils and you will avoid empty calories and fat, guaranteed! Another delicious option is to consume salads. However, you must be careful, as often times the dressing is what makes for the majority of the calories. Ask for your dressing to be placed on the side in a small dish, and try vinaigrette or light dressing. Proceed to lightly dip your fork in the dressing prior to taking each bite of your salad. You will be surprised at how little dressing you use, while still maintaining the flavor and avoiding the calories.

During any vacation, most people participate in excursions and activities and may often treat themselves to the easiest and closest food. This may pose a problem, as this usually is unhealthy and full of fat and calories. Again, pack your healthy snacks, and eat them when you feel a bit hungry. This will keep your energy high and when you do sit down for a full meal, the snacks you ate during the day will have kept the feeling of starvation away, which will allow you to make smart dining decisions.

A tip we can’t stress enough is to do your dining research prior to arrival. Before your trip, review the area restaurant menus on-line, and devise a healthy eating plan. This way, you will be prepared to eat healthy during any morning, afternoon or evening excursions.

With careful planning prior to your vacation, a little willpower and avoiding the convenience of eating food that is bad for you, you will eat healthy during your vacation while also having the energy to enjoy it as well.

Travel Tips: Eating Healthy on Vacation – Part 1

FullSizeRender copyFor most of us, a vacation is a time to relax, have fun and splurge. However, for many, not overindulging and trying to eat healthy can be a concern when traveling. Don’t fret, not only will we show you how to eat healthy, but you are guaranteed to feel great, light and enjoy all of the activities and leisure time without any of the guilt associated with overeating while on vacation.

Inside Puerto PlataPrior to your trip to the airport, eat a light and healthy meal. Start off on a positive note and set the standard for your vacation, keeping in mind that you will eat healthy during your vacation. If it is breakfast, juicing is always an option, not to mention you can take it with you, should you be in a hurry. To fight off the hunger pains during your flight, make sure to pack a few healthy snacks, such as granola bars, nuts, trail mix and dried snap peas. Dried fruit is another very healthy and popular snack as well. Should your flight be later in the day or closer to lunch or dinner, start with a light healthy breakfast followed by a light lunch, such as tuna salad with assorted high protein beans on a pita. Since you will be busy preparing for your flight and vacation, tuna salad is not only healthy and light, but incredibly easy. Take a bit of tuna, mix it with a pinch of olive oil and lemon juice. Add some white beans and tomatoes. Voila! You are guaranteed a healthy, light lunch or dinner. There are many recipes you can find on the web, but the trick is to eat light, high protein foods to keep your energy level high for the trip, while avoiding the distraction of hunger, which inevitably causes temptation and can often times lead to overindulgence.

Upon arrival to youInside Puerto Platar destination, make sure to stock your hotel room with plenty of healthy snacks, such as fruit. Apples and bananas are a great snack. Bananas are full of potassium, apples are low calorie and dried fruit such as apricots are delicious. Whole vegetables, such as carrots and celery are another wonderful option, and can easily be stored in your hotel room or villa refrigerator. A popular vegetable option is dried snap peas, which are both delicious and nutritious. Make sure to avoid chips, candy and soda, which are filled with sugar and empty calories. Stick with a great deal of water, preferably bottled water, especially when traveling. Not only will water hydrate you during your trip, but many times when you think you are hungry, your body is tricking you, and in fact, you were thirsty. Revert back to your flight snacks, as granola bars, trail mix and fiber cookies (if available) are a fabulous snack option when vacationing.

Travel Tips: Planning a Weekend Getaway to Puerto Plata

There is so much to do and see in Puerto Plata that accomplishing it all in one weekend will be tough, but we have no doubt that you will succeed in having a great time. Whether your getaway will be with friends, family, or just your significant other, planning a weekend getaway will help you to recharge and escape the mundane of every day life. Of course, you will need to plan the time of year of your quick getaway in Puerto Plata, choose your flights, select the size of your villa, and choose from the many exciting activities Puerto Plata has to offer.

First and foremost, choose the time of year that best suits you. Puerto Plata offers a minimal to moderate range in air temperature, water temperature and wind. If you and your guests are not fans of high humidity, then planning your getaway around the months of July, August and September is a good idea for you. If you are all big fans of warm weather and warm tropical waters, the “winter” months in Puerto Plata will greatly resonate with you. Who knows, you may even extend your weekend getaway into a one or two week getaway!

Finding flights for everyone involved can easily become complicated. Have someone help you with your flights, or better yet find a travel agent with the ability to work with everyone’s time constraints, time zones and special needs. You will want everyone to arrive around the same time so a travel agent may very well be your best option.

When staying in a villa, you are provided with a vast number of amenities you wouldn’t ordinarily experience when staying in a hotel. Perks such as a private pool and a private Chef will allow you to decide if you prefer to head out to a local restaurant for breakfast or enjoy it with your travel companion(s) poolside in the privacy of your villa. Due diligence is key, so make sure to read the many Inside Puerto Plata blog posts to gain a full understanding about Puerto Plata, the local cuisine, top rated restaurants, excursions, monthly events and beautiful beaches.

Activities are aplenty in Puerto Plata. It will be very difficult for you to narrow down your “to-do” list, as the number of once in a lifetime excursions, activities and events are plentiful. Therefore, when on a weekend getaway in Puerto Plata and stretched for time, researching and deciding on your top activity selections is key. Day trips to Punta Rusia or Cayo Paraiso on a luxury yacht to snorkel and relax is one of the many fabulous activities that must be added to your list. The cable car ride up to Mount Isabel de Torres followed by shopping, drinks and dinner is another day of fun altogether. Visit Damajaqua Cascades, or 27 Waterfalls, to see the absolute beauty surrounding Puerto Plata. You will hike, jump from cliffs into cool springs and experience the beautiful landscape all in one day. Are you a golf lover? If so, 18 holes at the famous Playa Dorada Golf Course is a must, followed by a trip to the beach to relax and enjoy the cool ocean water.

Puerto Plata has an endless array of options for each and every visitor. Follow these tips when planning your weekend getaway and you are guaranteed to experience the weekend of your life!

3 Delicious Dominican Recipes To Try in Your Kitchen

Its really not that difficult to master a few traditional Dominican dishes, as the main and most important ingredients in all Dominican recipes are a little bit of time and a lot of love. Why not try to replicate a few of the delicious Dominican dishes in your own home? Since there are so many recipes to choose from and you are just getting started, we will provide you with our three favorite Dominican recipes. You can start with one, but if you are feeling brave, try all three!

Because Dominican food consists of various ethnic backgrounds such as Taino, African, Spanish and Middle Eastern, a variety of spices, vegetables and meats contribute to the creation of these mouth-watering dishes. The Dominican Republic is a true melting pot of flavor providing Dominican food with its edge.

Let’s first begin with Bandera. Its proper name is La Bandera Dominicana, commonly known as the Dominican Flag. This is by far one of the most popular dishes created in the Dominican Republic, because it’s so easily tailored to accommodate just about anyone’s tastes and is widely known as a comfort food! An accompaniment to most dishes is rice and beans, but Bandera is cooked differently than one might think. The rice is cooked to specification and is always on the crispy side. The beans are cooked with salt, garlic and oregano and you can add anything your heart desires to enhance the flavor, such as onions, peppers, tomatoes or plantains. The heart of the dish is the meat. Of course, most commonly used is chicken, but you can substitute beef, goat or even pork. Keep in mind that the key to cooking the meat is to stew it. You must stew it and you must use tomatoes and onions to do this. Caramelize sugar, sear the meat and simmer. Simmer for hours! This is a dish you can leave on the stovetop while you go about your business in your home, checking on it throughout the day. It is an easy and delicious dish that is guaranteed to fill your need for a delectable Dominican meal.

Ingredients (Beef Marinade):

2 garlic cloves
1/2 red onion
A handful of parsley
1 lb beef top round steak
Dry oregano
Pepper
Adobo seasoning
Worcestershire sauce

Preparation:

Wash the beef and place it in a large bowl.  Add the chopped garlic, onions and parsley. Add about a teaspoon of ground pepper.  Season with a few sprinkles of adobo powder… about 1/2 tablespoon.  Add 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and mix well.  Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. After refrigeration, heat up a skillet on medium-high heat and add the steaks. Turn them so they cook on both sides and cover them. After 10 minutes the meat should be mostly cooked. Remove the steaks and place them on a plate.

Ingredients (Beans):

1 tsp of canola or vegetable oil
1 cup of chicken stock
1 large can of red beans
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
Adobo seasoning powder
Dry oregano
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
Apple cider vinegar
Parsley

Preparation:

Chop up the onion and celery in chunks. Peel the garlic but leave whole and tie up the parsley into a knot.  Heat up the oil and add the onions, garlic and celery until the onion starts getting brown.  Add the beans and the parsley.  Next, add 1/2 tbs of dry oregano and about 1/2 tbs of Adobo.  Mix that well and add the tomato paste.  Add one cup of chicken stock.  If you are vegetarian, add vegetable stock or water.  If adding water just make sure to add a little bit more Adobo to taste. Mix well until the tomato paste is mostly dissolved. Cook covered on medium-low heat. Once they are boiling add a splash of vinegar. Mix the vinegar in and lower the heat once they start boiling so they don’t burn. Add a tablespoon of tomato paste to the skillet where the steaks were cooking (do not throw away the juices the steak gave out).  Add a cup of water or chicken stock and dissolve the tomato paste as much as you can.  Add the steaks to the skillet and cover.  Cook on low heat for 10 minutes. While the beans and the beef cook, heat up some oil on a skillet and fry a few slices of yellow plantains.  Fry a yellow (maduro) plantain in canola oil and serve them with the bandera.

Sancocho, what a superbly tasting stew! It’s a big meal, so make sure to invite all of your friends and family over to enjoy this hearty dish. Sancocho is made from all manners of meat with a sour orange flair. You can use whatever meats are readily available to you as traditional Dominican stew consists of beef, chicken, pork, pork chops, pork bones, sausage and goat. If possible, soak or marinate your meat overnight with spices and orange juice first. Combine onions, peppers (green and red), hot peppers, lime, salt, pepper, oregano, potatoes, corn, green bananas, (in various amounts) and let it simmer. Once you have cooked your meat, add it to your vegetables. This all takes some time and patience but its well worth it, and will soon become second nature.

Ingredients:

1 (10-ounce) package Dominican longaniza sausage (optional)
3 quarts plus 1 1/2 cups water, divided
3 quarts plus 1 1/2 cups water, divided
1/4 pound bacon (4 slices), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (1-pound) beef shank (1 1/2 inches thick)
1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
4 chicken thighs with skin and bone
1 large onion, chopped
1 Cubanelle or other mild frying pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (4 to 5 cloves)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro stems (from 2 bunches)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound unripe (green) plantains
1 pound yuca
1 pound ñame
1 pound white yautía
1 pound calabaza (Caribbean pumpkin; often sold in large wedges) or butternut squash
2 ears corn, cut into 1 1/2-inch rounds
6 tablespoons fresh Seville orange juice (or 3 tbl of regular fresh orange juice and 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Accompaniments: white rice; hot sauce; sliced avocado
Garnish: chopped cilantro

Preparation:

Cook longaniza (if using) with 1/2 cup water in a 12-inch heavy skillet, covered, over medium heat, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides and water has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, then transfer to an 8-quart pot. Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, then transfer to pot with a slotted spoon, reserving fat in skillet. Meanwhile, cut meat from beef shank into 1 1/2-inch pieces, reserving bone. Pat beef, pork, and chicken dry, putting them in separate bowls. Toss meat in each bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat fat in skillet over medium-high heat until hot, then add beef and bone in 1 layer and brown, turning occasionally, about 7 minutes. Transfer to pot with slotted spoon. Brown pork and chicken in separate batches in same manner, transferring to pot. Add onion, peppers, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to skillet and sauté until softened. Add 1 cup water and boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Transfer vegetable mixture to pot. Add cilantro stems, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 3 quarts water to pot and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam, then simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. While meat simmers, cut ends from plantains with a sharp small knife, then cut a lengthwise slit through peel. Beginning at slit, pry off peel, then cut plantains crosswise into 1-inch-thick pieces. Trim ends from yuca and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces, then peel, removing waxy brown skin and pinkish layer underneath. Quarter lengthwise and cut out coarse center fiber. Peel ñame and yautía, then cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces and keep in a bowl of cold water. Seed and peel calabaza, then cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Add plantain and yuca to tender meat in pot and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Drain ñame and yautía and add to pot along with calabaza, then simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Remove and discard beef and chicken bones. Add corn and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender and all root vegetables are very tender (yuca should be translucent), 10 to 15 minutes. Sancocho broth should be slightly thickened from root vegetables; thin with additional water if necessary. Stir in juice and reheat, then season with salt and pepper.

Last but certainly not least, try your hand at Boniato fries. Boniato fries are a white sweet potato side dish and it is amazingly simple to create. Boniato fries can be paired with anything. This yummy side dish is extremely popular in the Dominican Republic and can be found everywhere. Remember, it is made from the white sweet potato, not the popular orange or any other color potato. First, you must wash and peel the sweet potato, followed by slicing it into thin slices. Use a mandarin, it makes cutting that much easier and faster. Fry these cute little slices in hot, hot oil until both sides are slightly brown. When they’re done, simply remove each slice, place them onto paper towels, and salt. You can literally use any seasoning under the sun; just make sure to do it while the Boniato fries are still hot. Now eat, enjoy and repeat. It’s that easy! 

Ingredients:

Boniatos (batatas)
Oil
Salt

Preparation:

Wash and peel the boniatos. Cut into round slices. Fry in abundant hot oil and turn once until lightly browned on both sides and fully cooked inside. Drain excess oil on paper towel or wire mesh and season with salt to taste.

Dominican food is both fun and easy to make, and most of the delicious dishes don’t take much time at all. Remember, Dominican recipes are just like the country they come from, beautiful, fun and flavorful.

Sources:

http://www.kristinschell.com/la-bandera-a-traditional-dish-from-the-dominican-republic/
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/dominican-sancocho-239991
http://mariscakesenglish.blogspot.com/2013/02/batatas-fritas-fried-boniato.html

Travel Tips for Multigenerational Vacations to Puerto Plata

Whether it’s the first generation or the second generation that plans your exciting vacation, the time you will spend together is priceless. You may not know it yet but you are creating memories that will be cherished for many years to come. Exploring, experiencing, and relaxing together in Puerto Plata will help your family to bond while growing even closer.

Gather your loved ones and plan the vacation together. Depending on the ages of your family members, you will want everyone’s input on the vacation destination, planned activities and excursions, and even the travel details. Accommodating each family member’s special request may prove challenging, but if each family member is able to pick at least one activity, you will be looking forward to a very successful and enjoyable vacation.

Choose an accommodation that will suit your entire family. Choosing to stay in a villa is both a smart and wonderful choice, as you will have the opportunity to stay together in a luxury setting, ranging in size from 3 – 7 bedrooms; that’s a whopping 14 family members a villa can accommodate. If your family is like most, everyone will be more than happy having their own bedroom. Don’t forget the many luxury villa perks, such as a private pool, private chef and the fact that the entire family can relax together under one roof, while sharing meals together, cooking together and making memories together.

Plan your activities to fit everyone’s requirements. If you have older parents or young children, hiking and climbing may not be at the top of your list of choice activities. Not to worry, Puerto Plata offers a variety of activities to suit every age and ability. A trip to Ocean World Adventure Park is perfect for all, especially families with children. The famous Puerto Plata Cable Car Tours will accommodate all ages, and is a breathtaking experience you and your family will not soon forget. Puerto Plata beaches are both beautiful and numerous, so why not spend a day relaxing on the gorgeous white Dominican sand you hear so much about? Remember, there are activities and excursions that will accommodate every age and ability, guaranteeing a great time to be had by all.

Remember to take time for yourself. Whether its solely you or maybe you and your significant other, it is important to take a little time away from everyone to create private memories while in beautiful Puerto Plata. If you have young children, ask their grandparents, aunt or uncle to babysit for the night, while you and your love sip champagne at the fabulous PURE nightclub. If a day outing is more appealing, the many romantic and wonderful restaurants, such as Mares Restaurant & Pool Lounge, can’t be missed! Wherever the destination may be, its imperative you take a few hours for just yourself or the two of you.

Take as many pictures as possible. We are warning you now; you will want to have the beautiful and exciting memories you experience in Puerto Plata captured on film or video. Because busy schedules often prevail, you may not find the time to take as many of these multigenerational vacations as you would like. Therefore, use this time together wisely and document, document, document! Time flies and memories fade but you will always have your heartwarming pictures and videos to return to over and over again.

Three or more generations of family members don’t often find the time to travel together. Follow these simple yet important tips and you are guaranteed a wonderful vacation, and to make memories that will last a lifetime!

Eat Like a Local: Where to Have Lunch in Puerto Plata

Big Lee’s Beach Bar

http://www.puertoplataluxuryrentals.comBig Lee’s has fantastic food, is centrally located, offers a family-like atmosphere and an incredible wait staff. Can you tell that we love this place? Big Lee’s is the favorite eatery among the city’s locals and expats alike. In fact, those who frequent Big Lee’s the most live on the island. Big Lee’s Beach Bar is an all-around fun place to eat while gazing at the beautiful ocean view. This well-known and delectable eatery sits on the Malecón in the heart of Puerto Plata. Only steps away from the Atlantic Ocean, Big Lee’s Beach Bar can be found at Casetta #8 right on the Malecón. The usual menu consists of sandwiches of all kinds, fries, chips and even a daily breakfast for the early riser. However, the standout menu item Big Lee’s is famous for is their mouth-watering fish and chips. The fish is always fresh caught and the chips/fries are peeled and fried upon ordering. Nothing ever comes out of frozen bags or a freezer at Big Lee’s. This is a true hometown foodie landmark you cannot miss out on visiting while in Puerto Plata.

Los Tres Payasos

http://www.puertoplataluxuryrentals.comIf freshly prepared daily lunches coupled with an outdoor tropical ambiance sounds heavenly to you, then Los Tres Payasos must be added to your itinerary. Not only will you enjoy a delicious and sensual lunch, but you will also have the opportunity to take in beautiful tropical plants and trees indigenous to Puerto Plata. An assortment of delicious Dominican dishes are offered to locals and visitors alike. For the American travelers craving a taste of home, Los Tres Payasos offers delectable pizza as well. If you are able to make your way to this fantastic restaurant Monday – Friday during lunch, you will be lucky enough to pick from the lunch special menu. The pricing is very reasonable and the atmosphere casual, but don’t let that fool you, Los Tres Payasos is a Puerto Plata hidden treasure.

Kilometro Cero

http://www.puertoplataluxuryrentals.comThe food at Kilometro Cero is absolutely scrumptious! This well-known and wonderful restaurant is popular amongst locals, expats, and tourists. Every item on the menu is made from scratch; and it’s beyond tasteful and full of flavor. Cheeseburgers, fajitas, grilled lobster and grilled prawns are all so tasty that you will want to order more than one dish. If you are looking to feast on authentic Italian dishes then this is the place to dine in. Make sure to arrive hungry, because you will be served large dishes and still want more. Be careful not to over indulge, as you will need to save room for their famous desserts, which are equally as delicious as the entrees. The only challenge you will encounter at Kilometro Cero is deciding on one single menu item to order.

Where to Get the Best Seafood in Puerto Plata

Seafood and a Caribbean island go hand in hand. When visiting Puerto Plata it goes without saying that you will be able to find the freshest and tastiest seafood available. But where should you dine? We are going to give you our top picks for the best restaurants with the best seafood in Puerto Plata.

Los Charros y Los Pinches Chaparros, Mexican

Everyone who has ever visited Puerto Plata cannot stop talking about the views from this restaurant but what you may not readily know is that the seafood is beyond outstanding. Authentic Mexican food with seafood in many of the dishes makes the customers go “yum”! Grilled langostino, fish tacos, fresh caught fish grilled in Mexican spices and flavors expand the palate. All of these dishes make guests come back for more.

Le Papillon, International

The atmosphere at Le Papillon is fun-loving and casual that incorporates colorful aquariums and old pieces of driftwood. Know this, Le Papillon loves its’ seafood. The freshest shrimp is made to order in several ways that melt in your mouth. Le Papillon serves lobster! They are known for their lobster dishes because Chef Thomas Ackermann, an executive chef from Germany, makes the freshest and most delicious lobster dishes around. Locals and expats alike visit Le Papillon frequently which is a tell-all for tourists. If locals flock to Le Papillon then you should make it a point to visit too. Do not forget to make a reservation as this is a very popular restaurant.

Benjamin Fresh Seafood

Located in Sosúa, Benjamin Fresh Seafood is widely known for offering some of the best seafood in the Dominican Republic. This quaint family owned and run restaurant serves fresh fish daily and at a good price. Locals and visitors travel to Benjamin Fresh Seafood to dine on red snapper, lobster, shrimp and calamari dishes. All of the seafood the chef proudly prepares is fresh from the sea, marinated perfectly and served with love. Benjamin Fresh Seafood has rave reviews on the web. The lobster they serve is succulent, flavorful and tender. It’s fresh, well prepared, and served hot. If there was any place else that you could have lobster right out of the water, prepared and brought to you in such a fun atmosphere, we challenge you to find it. Don’t stop the seafood train there though, because the fresh shrimp is just as succulent and fabulous as the lobster, and the seafood soup is amazing!

These are just a few of the fantastic restaurants in Puerto Plata that serve outstanding seafood! Hopefully you’ll have the time to visit them all – you won’t be disappointed.

Delicious Dominican Dishes You Must Try

When visiting the Dominican Republic, it is a must to try the local cuisine. The food of the Dominican Republic is unlike any food that you will find as Dominicans and add their own unique twist to their recipes. Taíno Natives, Africans, Europeans, and Asians are just some of the cultures that make up the nation of the Dominican Republic. These cultures brought along their recipe ideas inspired by each of their respective countries and combined became delicious Dominican dishes. This amalgamation creates unique dishes because its people are unique. Each dish is inspired by many and created by all. Assorted flavors and spices coupled with an array of seafood, meats and vegetarian items create unique and memorable dishes that are locally inspired and taste amazing!

Food in the Dominican Republic is the ultimate in delicious. There are an endless amount of recommended dishes that visitors can try while on the island. One of the dishes that is ever so popular is Sancocho. Sancocho originated in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, brought to the Caribbean by slaves and shared throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and South America. Items used to make this stew vary and no one country makes it exactly the same. Though the original Sancocho incorporated seven types of meat, Dominicans often narrow the meat selection down to beef, chicken and pork with the possibility of goat. Native vegetables and spices are added along with water, which is simmered for hours to create the perfect mix of flavors. Sancocho is shared at family meals, celebrations and even weddings. As you can gather, Sancocho is an important part of Dominican food culture.

Asopao de Pollo is a popular comfort stew for native Dominicans and one of the most popular. It consists of mainly rice, tomatoes and a single meat. This stew is on the thicker side, making a large serving suitable as an entire meal. Because asopao de pollo is made with native items, it is always unique to what Dominicans have on hand in the kitchen. Although asopao de pollo is known to be made with chicken, it is often switched out for other meats and seafood. Two bonuses when making this delectable meal are that it can be made to serve many quite easily and it is perfect on the occasional rainy island day.

Arroz con Fideos, or rice and fried noodles, is one of the most common and popular dishes served in Dominican households. As rice is a staple in the majority of Dominican dishes, it only makes sense that the recipe has been modified enough to include noodles as well. Arroz con Fideos has texture and color that will excite and amaze the palate. The angel hair pasta is fried in oil and rice is added with broth and spices to create a unique side dish. Yum!

Quipes or kipes is yet another very popular dish inspired by Middle Easterners who immigrated to the Dominican Republic. It is one of the most popular party foods prepared. Quipes are made with a special flour called bulgur, beef, tomato sauce, raisins and spices all rolled into torpedo shapes and fried in oil. This specialty food brings people around the table talking, laughing and enjoying themselves. It is that good!

Bizcocho Dominicano or Dominican cake is so incredibly popular that it would be a crime to miss while visiting Puerto Plata. It is the most delicate cake ever made and by far the most sinfully delicious. Bizcocho Dominicano includes many different ingredients, amounts of ingredients and special secrets respective to each individual household. Dominicans pride themselves on keeping their recipe secret and want to keep you coming back for more. Should you have the opportunity to try Bizcocho Dominicano, do not pass it up – you would never forgive yourself!

There are many other dishes such as rice with pork and black beans, fruit jam turnovers and cassava and pork crackling roll, which are all must tries while in the Dominican Republic. Whether you choose one or all of the delicious dishes, after sampling what the Dominican Republic has to offer your palate, you are guaranteed to return for more.

A Romantic Night Out in Puerto Plata

 

IMG_2561Puerto Plata has so much to offer, it isn’t a surprise that on one, two or all of your nights visiting you will be able to enjoy a romantic night out with the one that you love. The city is filled with fantastic restaurants, sexy nightclubs and beautiful beaches to stroll quietly along hand in hand. Puerto Plata is the perfect setting for romance.

Inside Puerto Plata has written about some of the best restaurants Puerto Plata has to offer and that you will enjoy with your significant other. One of our favorites is Mares Restaurant & Pool Lounge, which offers a blend of farm to table dinners that are both decadent and ambrosial. The chef utilizes the island’s ingredients with other culinary traditions to create divine meals. Enjoy this memorable and delectable dining experience while overlooking the pool and lounge area.

IMG_2563Yet another romantic and phenomenal restaurant in Puerto Plata to start your night out with is Green Jack Restaurant. Green Jack provides a wide variety of delightfully, delicious food! You and your date have the option of enjoying a different dish each night through it’s food choices, up to and including all seasonings. It’s been said that guests amaze themselves with the dishes that they create on their own and with the Chef’s creation, it’s a meal that will never be forgotten. Atmospherically, Green Jack offers a small and romantic indoor section and a beautiful outdoor patio, should you and your love prefer to eat under the stars.

Ocean World Adventure Park is host to a twice-weekly date night on Wednesdays and Saturdays, which allows couples to enjoy dinner and a show. Not only is the food delectable but Bravissimo, the Las Vegas style show, is both sexy and highly entertaining.

IMG_2562As you know, music is a great way to connect with your special someone. Along El Malecón, couples are guaranteed to find Merengue and Salsa clubs, disco dancing nightclubs, live music and great fun. Both dances of Merengue and Salsa are sexy, hot and generate a lot of body heat, which is a perfect combination for couples in love.

Should you choose to head to Cabarete Beach or Playa Dorada, you will come across many quiet and romantic spots to sit and enjoy each other’s company or stroll and enjoy the scenery.

However you decide to spend your romantic night out with the one you love, be it wonderful restaurants, strolling along the beach, dancing the Merengue or relaxing in a small bar to listen to live music, you will be side by side with your loved one in romantic and unforgettable Puerto Plata.