The Best Restaurants in San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, is a riot of color and home to plenty of excellent restaurants
San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, is a riot of color and home to plenty of excellent restaurants | © Martin Wheeler / Alamy Stock Photo
Mariette Williams

San Juan is a paradise for your taste buds. You’ll find traditional Puerto Rican food, Italian cooking and New York-style steakhouses. So whether you’re looking for an upbeat night out or an intimate meal for two, here are our picks for the best places to eat in the capital of Puerto Rico.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Santaella

Head towards La Placita, the lively restaurant and nightclub district of San Juan, and you’ll find Santaella, serving traditional Puerto Rican dishes using fresh, local ingredients. Among our favorites is quesadilla de queso de cabra, made with goat’s cheese, honey, arugala, and a dressing made of white truffle oil. This place feels wonderfully intimate, with small tables positioned under low-lit rustic chandeliers. One of the loveliest architectural features is the wall of windows looking out onto a lush garden.

Casita Miramar

This neighborhood beauty occupies a sprawling villa in a residential area of Miramar, and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. Each room is opulent, with rich colors and soft lighting. There’s a chalkboard menu of seasonally changing Caribbean-inspired food, which is hearty and lovingly home-made – with stuffed mofongo, fried chorizo and guava-barbecued ribs, you’ll feel as if you’re having dinner with your closest friends.

Vianda

Here’s a fine farm-to-table restaurant with a small, rotating menu. It’s headed by husband-and-wife team Francis Guzmán and Amelia Gill. Interiors are sleek and industrial with wood accents, polished concrete floors and hanging globe lights. Expect small plates such as tropical ceviche made with escolar fish, fruit, avocado and malanga chips. There’s even an eclectic wine list.

Sarafina

Sarafina offers Italian fare, and is tucked inside La Concha Resort and Hotel. It’s a famous name, with 10 restaurants in New York, so you may be familiar with the handmade pasta and tender steaks. The beachside restaurant has seating outside and indoors, and is decorated with graffitied walls and neon letters. The menu lists the classics, such as bruschetta, spaghetti al pomodoro, chicken linguine and lasagne al forno; or you can opt for pizza, seafood or steak.

Jamón Jamón

Jamón Jamón is a casual affair in Miramar, with an international menu and an extensive wine collection. Fancy tapas? Small plates include bolitos de risotto (crispy fried balls of risotto, mozzarella and aioli), while the main menu proposes sautéed salmon, pork spare ribs and pasta dishes including tortellini della nonna (meat tortellini with rose sauce, prosciutto and mushrooms). On the wine list, look for bottles from Napa Valley, Spain and Italy.

Meat Market

Meat Market is the New York-style steakhouse at the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel. We love the gold-and-cream decor, the warm lighting, the plush seating and the food. The upscale atmosphere works equally for romantic dinners or nights out with friends. There’s a raw bar, flavorful appetizers such as beer-poached shrimp cocktail, and quality cuts of meat that have been marinated to maximize the flavors.

La Cueva del Mar

Fancy a seafood fix? Head to La Cueva del Mar. It has a nautical-themed interior, all surfboards and capstans on the walls, while the must-order items on the menu – all served in large portions – include the fish tacos and whole fried snapper, as well as lobster. Beyond the seafood are chicken, beef and pork dishes. Try the beef empanadillas, the chicken and cheese dumplings or the fried pork chops.

Cocina Abierta

Cocina Abierta doubles as a restaurant and cooking school, turning out food that’s a fusion of Caribbean and Latin. Step inside for trendy dark-wood floors and industrial metal chairs around long tables, and seating by the bar. Big menu hits include spiny Caribbean lobster, breadfruit and goat’s milk ricotta gnocchi, and local fresh fish marinated in turmeric and tamarind. There’s also a boutique deli stocked with cheeses, jams and meats so you can take a little of what you fancy home.

La Bodeguita de Manolo

You’ll clock first the head-turning display of wines at this cozy restaurant in the Condado area. Pick a bottle and order, perhaps tostones (twice-fried plantain slices) or ham croquetas. The menu changes often but, if you can, order the dorado or the lamb chops. The wine list is lengthy – if you’re not sure what to order, ask one of the helpful and knowledgeable servers for a recommendation. Top tip: if you’re looking for a buzzy night out, book for the weekend when there’s live music.

This is an updated version of an article originally by Chanel Mowatt.

Where to Stay

Looking for more recommendations? 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 personalized touch at one of these top bed and breakfasts. There’s plenty to do, too, from checking out these 20 must-visit attractions to exploring the most beautiful beaches in San Juan or trying a local tipple at the best local bars. To discover delicious food, check out our guide to the best food festivals in Puerto Rico.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
close-ad
Edit article