- Courtesy photos
In a city of about 1 billion Tex-Mex restaurants, the authentic Caribbean flavors at Luna Rosa Puerto Rican Grill Y Tapas are a delicious change of pace. Located at Brooks City Base, Luna Rosa is an unassuming restaurant that offers many surprises inside. Upon entering, you’ll quickly forget that you’re in a strip center thanks to the bright walls and sleek, modern décor.
The cocktails and food at Luna Rosa quickly matched the vibrant energy of the space. As self-proclaimed margarita experts, the Guava Margarita, the People’s Choice Winner in the Margarita Pour Off, instantly intrigued us. We tried it frozen and on the rocks, with both iterations being equally boozy and delicious. The guava flavor was unique and refreshing, adding the perfect tropical twist to the standard marg.
Once we had the perfect buzz going, we dove into the extensive menu. We admitted to the waitress that we were mostly Puerto Rican food novices and she happily and intelligently guided us through the different offerings. The menu is broken down into different sections including Paellas, traditional Puerto Rican plates, Spanish-style Tapas, and desserts. After many minutes of deliberation, we made our decisions, but agreed many more trips back would be necessary to try it all.
On the Tapas front, we tried the bacon-wrapped dates, the fried plantain chips, and the Piñones sampler. Obviously you could wrap a shoe in bacon and it would be tasty, but the sweet and chewy dates were the perfect juxtaposition to the salty and crispy bacon. Plantains are a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine, and our first taste of them in chip form was outstanding. Thin cut and fried, the plantain chips were served with an amazing garlic aioli. We could have easily eaten bowls of them, to be honest. The Piñones sampler consisted of a meat empanadilla, calamari fries, sorullitos (cornmeal sticks), and alcapurria (a Puerto Rican fritter). Every bite was better than the next. It would be easy to fill up on Tapas and cocktails and call it a night (in fact, you can do just that at their happy hour from 5–7 PM Tuesday through Thursday and 3–7 PM on Friday), but we were just getting started.
For our entrees we took the advice of our waitress and tried two of their most popular “platos del día”—“El Cubanito” and “El Guavate”. The Cuban came with tostones and was about the size of a newborn baby. Between the sabao bread were layers of roasted pork, smoked ham, swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and aioli. Unequivocally, it was the best Cuban sandwich of our lives. The flavors were beyond perfect, with no one flavor overpowering the rest as can often happen on a Cuban. We’ve been craving it literally every single day since we ate there. We had to also try El Guavate, a plate with pernil (roasted pork), arroz con grandules, and sweet fried plantains. Everything on the dish was perfect—the pork was flavorful, succulent, and tender. And the rice and plantains were the perfect sides to accompany it. With a serious food coma setting in, we had to reluctantly skip dessert but vowed to come back soon for the guava empanada that was tempting us.
Luna Rosa is a family business in the truest sense. The owner, Iris, is the head chef and runs the restaurant with her husband. Her two sons work behind the bar and in the kitchen as well. After a career in education, Iris took a risk and fulfilled her dream of owning her own restaurant. Growing up in Salinas, Puerto Rico, Iris has brought her family recipes stateside and we personally could not be happier to have her little piece of Puerto Rico right here in San Antonio.