The evening before we ate at Cafe Berlin, an endearing and quirky man from E&B Tours (whose name was either Vinny, Loki, or Rocky), drove us to Fajardo to kayak through the mangroves. He picked us up from Plaza Colon, outside of Cafe Berlin. As we rumbled down the cobblestoned roads, he asked us if we'd eaten at Cafe Berlin. We naively announced that we had dismissed it as "catering to tourists," while we wanted to eat at truly "local" eateries. He chuckled and announced that Cafe Berlin had the "best garlic chicken," the "best mojitos," "the best mofongo," etc. Hmmmm.
The next day we found ourselves in Plaza Colon, wondering where to watch the Swizterland vs. Argentina match and the blast of cool air coming from Cafe Berlin's open door was too inviting. As per Vinny/Loki/Rocky's orders, I requested pollo al ajillo. It was perfectly spiced, light yet filling, and so TASTY. Their mamposteado - Puerto Rican rice with beans and chorizo - was rich and flavorful. It was becoming quite clear to me that Puerto Ricans weren't going to "dilute" their cuisine for anyone - they cooked the food they wanted to eat, and it was our choice whether to order it or not. Another delicious delight was the dorade ceviche, prepared with a sweet mango and red bell pepper relish. The barely-fried, thinly-sliced plantain chips served alongside were a perfect complement.
I missed out on the berenjena guisada - but that will be the first dish I order on my next visit!