Wilo Benet

After five years of research, the chef with 28 years of experience found in Wilo Eatery & Bar the perfect recipe to offer comfort, flexibility, quality and service with a very broad menu in content and pricing. (Gabriel López Albarrán / The Weekly Journal)

One of Puerto Rico’s most revered chefs, Wilo Benet, is back in business with a unique concept born from his desire to please different gastronomic needs in a single space.

After five years of research, the chef with 28 years of experience found in Wilo Eatery & Bar the perfect recipe to offer comfort, flexibility, quality and service with a very broad menu in content and pricing.

“You make of it whatever you need to make of it right in the moment. It is about whatever you want and however you want to do it, more than what my menu is going to constrain you, or drive you or steer you to do as we have in the past,” he explained.

A Taste of the Menu

From Yuca Chips ($8) to Foie Gras, Ripe Plantain, Truffle Honey & Micro Cilantro ($30), more than 50 plates shape the menu with options for all tastes and all purchasing power.

Rush day? Payevar offers fully cooked and chilled packaged foods in a variety of sizes. The Grab & Go concept includes meats, seafood, rices, pastas, dips, chips, vegetables and soups for all occasions.

At Mixta, Wilo offers a personalized experience in a Quick Service Bowl Food concept, with everyday staples like corned beef brisket stew, picadillo and chopped bistec encebollado available to mix with a variety of add-on ingredients.

For a cup of hot and sweet, Kafé serves premium Puerto Rican Alto Grande coffee and hot chocolate with a selection of house made tarts, petit creme brûlée, pastries and quiches.

At the Premium Causal Restaurant, the menu combines local and global flavors under one roof. The number one seller, Tuna Tartar and Chipotle Pegao, gives the customer a crunchy delicacy with a subtle touch of spice.

Other best sellers are Beef or Salmorejo Alcapurrias, Gandules Risotto with Crispy Chicharrón, Cod Croquettes and Spanish Octopus Escabeche.

“Sometimes you need to come and eat something from my Bowl Bar. You have rice, beans between $8, $10 or $14. Maybe you are in a rush, or you want coffee or you want to go to the restaurant. You can snack, you can eat dinner, you can have a combination of both,” the chef said.

The bar — simulating a W, one could say — offers artisanal cocktails and a modern wine list to compliment the “comfort focused” gastronomy of the restaurant.

La Mula de Wilo’s — with Tito’s Vodka, orange marmalade, sesame oil and top house ginger beer — is the number one selling mixology cocktail. The signature cocktail Flores y Tequila — with Tequila 1800, lime juice, hibiscus tea syrup and Germain — is a bitter and refreshing option with a savory after taste.

“On a busy dinner night, you have a full terrace, the store is full, everything is full. There is no limit, everything that is served (in the dining area) you can eat here or on the terrace when we have an overspill,” Wilo added.

Local Touch

At Wilo Eatery & Bar, Puerto Rican flavors await in every corner. Art made by local hands — including Wilo’s — decorate the space to complement the luscious menu with a vibrant visual experience.

For the menu, Wilo incorporates as many local agricultural produce as an operation of such magnitude allows for. That goes from viandas, microgreens, lettuce and plantains to goat cheese, seafood and a variety of fruits.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for farmers. We buy as much as we can on a weekly basis, but that exercise can be difficult for an operation of the volume that we handle. For example, I can buy 800 pounds of potatoes all at once or 400 pounds of celery. There is no one who can supply that. It is a challenge,” Benet said.

But his support for the local market does not end there. In the store, Puerto Rican options are the main actors on the shelves — craft beers, Chocolate Cortés, Forteza, Pinta Gelato, Pique Don Bori and Poskón, among many other products made by local entrepreneurs.

“There is nothing on the shelves or in the menu that I have not tried and I have not approved. Whether it is a packaged food or something, I need to like it, I need to approve it. From what perspective? From the perspective of quality. I want to make sure that things taste correctly,” he added.

What’s Next?

Wilo has no plans to expand his restaurant out of Galería San Patricio, but assured the concept will evolve.

Next in the agenda is the inclusion of gyros in the menu. “We are going to have the gyro everyone knows, with lettuce, tomato, onion and tzatziki sauce. But we are going to have another one with fillet steak, caramelized onions and cheese sauce. Another will be the Gyro Tripleta,” he said.

Reporter for The Weekly Journal. She is also a digital reporter for elvocero.com. Has experience in digital, radio and print media outlets. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from Interamerican University.

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