Puerto Rico has some pretty epic annual festivals like San Sebastian in Old San Juan every January, and there are plenty of other activities year round including the unofficial pork festival every weekend at Guavate!
Every Saturday and Sunday the main road through Guavate transforms from sleepy little town to party central. Guavate is the home of Lechonera, these are food stalls and restaurants that feature roasted pork, so much so this area of Puerto Rico is known as the Pork Highway. Located in the mountains of Puerto Rico, the best way to visit the pork highway is from the town of Caguas, then head East on highway 184.
There are miles of Lechonera to choose from on either side of the road. You may be tempted to stop at the first crowded restaurant along the way, but the best music and fun can be found deep in the mountains. Approximately 6 kilometers (under 4 miles) is the largest cluster of Lechoneras, live music, drink stands, and shopping stalls.
Roast pork is served by the pound in most places. Half pound of shredded pork and sides with typically serve two people. Chicken and non-pork meat may be available depending on the day and location. Vegetarian options will be limited to rum drinks and desert, and non-pork eaters may want to eat before going or BYOS (Bring Your Own Snack).
Hardcore foodies will want to arrive early and eat a light lunch, then enjoy a second lunch and early dinner, in order to try all of the side dishes and different pork options. You can specify if you want shredded pork, ribs, crunchy skin, or a little bit of everything. Side dished tend to be various rice dishes with or without pigeon peas, fried and mashed plantains, and yucca. It is very rare to find green vegetables or salad at a Lechonera. Beer and liquor are served at most stalls, and there are additional separate kiosks just for Pina Coladas.
Seating is family style on large benches in covered, open air pavilions. Many of the restaurants have live music all afternoon. It is common to see birthday parties and celebrations all around, people are dancing and singing along to the music. The fun, festive environment is popular with families, as it never gets too wild or out of control.
Tents and kiosks line the side streets with a variety of hammocks, clothes, accessories, souvenirs, and gifts for sale. Be sure to ask for Hecho in Puerto Rico for products made in Puerto Rico.
These adorable crochet bags are made locally and sold in the family owned/operated stall. These shopping stalls are one of the best places to buy gifts and souvenirs on the island! Six months after Hurricane Maria, many of these residents still do not have electricity, so every purchase is directly helping the families that will make a huge positive impact. Keep that in mind if you are tempted to haggle on prices, and feel good about your purchases.
When to Go
Every Saturday and Sunday starting around early afternoon, crowds start to gather. Food is served all afternoon until evening, with the largest crowds arriving around 3PM. Build up an appetite at nearby Charco Azul for a morning swim then enjoy lunch along the Pork Highway for a delicious, fun-filled day in the lush mountains of Puerto Rico.
There are fewer people during the summer months when Puerto Rico is considered off-peak, but do not let that stop you from enjoying great food and fun year round!
Getting There and Parking
Near Caguas, head East on highway 184 along the windy mountain roads there are Lechonera restaurants along the road for miles. Ample motorcycle parking lines the street. There are free parking spots, that fill up quickly, and paid lots that are usually $5 per car. Arrive around Noon for the best parking options.
Other Transportation Options
There are party buses (search for Chinchorreo party bus tours near you) for hire to Guavate and other food/drinking destinations around the island. I have not tried any of these buses, I have only seen them dropping off busloads of people.
13 thoughts on “Weekend Festival along the Pork Highway in Guavate, Puerto Rico”
Though I am not a Pork Eater, this place would be an interesting one. The energy is unmistakable and those stalls do seem to have a lot of goodies. I guess, everyone must be waiting for the weekend just so that they can be here. Cheers
We also have similar of this here in the Philippine, were we call it “letchon” or grilled pork. We consider it as a must food for every occasion, especially during fiestas and festivals.
Yes, buying as much as u can is a really great to help local economy. I really liked your pictures and the thought behind it
This sounds like just the event for me. I love pork! My grandfather’s family were pig farmers so I’m not squeamish about looking at the pigs’ faces. And I definitely like the idea of eating two lunches!
What a fabulous idea. This sounds like a great way to spend a saturday afternoon. Definitely making my mouth water!
Pork is my favorite meat. There is very little that make me salivate as much as a well prepared suckling pig. I loved the lechon in Philippines when I visited. It seems as if I need to make my way to Guavate as well for some tasty pork.
Puerto Rico is all about the pork. You would love the food!
I’m obsessed with Pork so the title of this post immediately caught my interest, but I have to say thank you for making sure it was also a useful guide for experiencing this pork festival! I would really like to visit Puerto Rico soon in order to contribute to the stimulation of the economy as they try to rebuild so I truly appreciated that tip about purchasing the crochet bags from the family owned stalls. They’re really cute and just my taste. Fingers crossed I get to visit soon!
I hope so!
There’s nothing better than a good lechonera! A great tip too on looking for products hecho en Puerto Rico, as I’d like to help out the families and victims of the hurricane. My mouth’s watering after reading this!
Yes, enjoying a great meal and locally made souvenirs are a fun and fantastic way to help the local economy.
This must be a foodie’s heaven and those shopping stalls look really tempting!
The roast pork is amazing! The shopping stalls have a little bit of everything.