The Best Bars in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Martini | © Frederick Dennstedt/Flickr
Martini | © Frederick Dennstedt/Flickr
Photo of Mariette Williams
27 July 2021

The capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan is known – celebrated even – for its historical sites and beautiful beaches. It is also known for an up-all-night bar and party scene. From posh rooftop watering holes to under-the-radar local spots, the choice is huge. For the inside scoop, check out our list of the best bars in San Juan.

La Factoría

Bar, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, $$$
Map View
Arguably one of the most popular bars in San Juan, La Factoría is a must-stop, and it’s been named one of the 50 best bars in the world. Opened in 2013, it has a pretty nondescript front, but once you step inside, you’ll be greeted by both a blast of music and a high-energy crowd. Part of the fun of La Factoría is discovering the hidden passages that lead to six different bars, each with a different drink menu, music and vibe. One of the standout cocktails is the lavender mule (Ketel One vodka, ginger tea, lavender and lime). We’ll drink to that.

El Batey Bar

Bar, Caribbean
Map View
Unpretentious dive bar El Batey serves great drinks and keeps people coming back with friendly service. The walls of the laid-back space are covered in decades of graffiti, but don’t let the rough exterior fool you; the bar has an intimate, welcoming atmosphere. Pull up a chair and order a beer or a no-frills mixed drink such as a cuba libre (rum, cola and lime). El Batey is ideal for those looking for a cold drink in a relaxed setting.

Nono's

Bar, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, $$$
Map View
Nono's bar in Old San Juan (Puerto Rico)
Nono's bar in Old San Juan provides somewhere to relax with an ice-cold drink after a long day | © James Dugan / Alamy Stock Photo
Near the citadel of El Morro, Nono’s is a small sports bar with a big personality. Open until 2am, the casual hangout offers a wide range of drinks. Check out a sports game on one of the big-screen televisions, or play a game of pool while waiting for your drinks. Its proximity to the ocean provides some much-needed breezes, and the margaritas and coconut mojitos are perfect after a long day of sightseeing.

El Bar Bero

Bar, Cocktails, Wine, Beer
Map View
El Bar Bero is a hip bar that’s also a barbershop in the daytime. The themed decor includes black-and-white checkerboard floors, stools that are antique barbershop chairs, and chandeliers adorned with shaving brushes. Meanwhile, the drink options are plentiful – there are two chalkboard menus of cocktails from which to choose, and one of the popular options is the El Mullet, a mix of vodka, mint, and blackberry and elderberry flowers. Guests leave raving about the knowledgeable and friendly bartenders.

Jungle Bird

Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Map View
Cocktail in Tiki glass
Grab a tiki cocktail – and some delicious food – at popular nightspot Jungle Bird | © Sergey Trifonov / Alamy Stock Photo

Funky neon lights welcome you to Jungle Bird, near La Placita de Santurce, a busy marketplace for fruit stands, restaurants and local sellers. After dark, La Placita itself becomes a lively nightlife spot with bars and clubs. The speciality here? The tiki and tropical drinks – the Missionary’s Downfall is made with Don Q Cristal rum, pineapple, apricot brandy, honey and lime. There’s also a food menu of delicious, Caribbean-inspired bites to mop up your drinks.

Barrachina

Bar, Restaurant, Cocktails, $$$
Map View
Pina Colada
You won't want to miss out on a piña colada from Barrachina, which claims to be the cocktail's originator | © Brent Hofacker / Alamy Stock Photo

The sit-down restaurant has been a stop for locals and tourists for more than 40 years, and it’s inside a colonial building that’s more than 200 years old. There’s indoor and outdoor dining and an extensive menu of Puerto Rican and international cuisine. Be prepared for a wait, though. Barrachina claims to be the originator of the piña colada, which is the main draw to the restaurant. The ones they create here – made with pineapple juice, white rum and coconut cream – are deliciously smooth.

The Mezzanine

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Wine, Beer, Cocktails
Map View
Street in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Take in the views of Old San Juan while sipping on a cocktail on one of the balconies at the Mezzanine | © Sorin Colac / Alamy Stock Photo
Right in the heart of Old San Juan, the Mezzanine draws a happy mix of visitors and locals with classic cocktails, a rustic interior and a generous happy hour. You can’t beat the views either – the bar has a few balconies that overlook the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. A favorite here is the Patria Libre (aged rum served over coconut-water ice cubes). The Mezzanine also has a selection of craft beers and wines from around the world.

Taberna Boricua

Bar, Beer, $$$
Map View

Away from the usual tourist spots, this is a neighborhood hangout that really pulls in locals. The highlight of Taberna Boricua is the backyard space. Seating inside the bar is limited, so head to the back patio and grab one of the tables under the string lights. As for drinks, Taberna Boricua is a beer-drinker’s heaven – take your pick from craft and artisanal varieties from around the world or ask the bartender for a recommendation for something local. They’re super-obliging.

Handlebar

Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Map View

If you love Eighties rock music, motorcycles and classic cars, do yourself a favor and head to Handlebar. The bar and nightclub is in a warehouse setting, and there’s an unmistakable flaming skull on the side of the building. Inside there are live tribute bands, big-screen televisions playing music videos, and a friendly crowd. What’s more, the beers are cold, the cocktails are strong, and the tunes are loud.

Eter Rooftop & Lounge

Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Map View
View of Miramar
Drink in all of San Juan while sipping on a delicious cocktail at fancy bar and restaurant Eter | © Wangkun Jia / Alamy Stock Photo

Eter Rooftop & Lounge is ideal for people who like to snap photos of their drinks between sips. The bar is perched above the Ciqala Luxury Suites, a boutique hotel in the Miramar district. It’s an upscale restaurant and cocktail bar delivering 360-degree views of San Juan, and pretty cocktails with names such as Lucid Dreams (Hypnotic, Midori, Malibu, Sprite and lime). The food is creative too – there’s a ceviche-stuffed avocado dish and mahi-mahi stuffed mofongo, a twist on Puerto Rico’s national dish, which is usually made with plantain.

This is an updated version of an article originally by Valerie Rouse.

Looking for more recommendations? Why not make a weekend of it and book a stay with Culture Trip at the best beach hotels in San Juan or opt for a more personalised touch at one of these top B&Bs. There’s plenty to do too, from these must-visit attractions to exploring the most beautiful beaches in San Juan or diving into local cuisine at these top restaurants.

These recommendations were updated on July 27, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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