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.
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.
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.
Diners are drawn to La Casita Blanca for the large portions and the authentic criollo (creole) food. Enter this much-loved restaurant and you’ll find plastic tablecloths among walls adorned with local art and antiques. You’ll feel as if you’re eating at a local family’s dinner table, with homey food on offer such as chicken mofongo, fried red snapper and steak with rice and beans. To end, try a peach mojito or a tres leches dessert.
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 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.
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.
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.