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

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.

Santaella

Restaurant, Puerto Rican, Caribbean, Contemporary, $$$
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Courtesy of 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

Restaurant, Puerto Rican, $$$
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Feb 28, 2018; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Fried local cheese with guava cream sauce is seen at Casita Miramar in San Juan. Mandatory Credit: Carrie Cochran/The Cincinnati Enquirer Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA
© Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo

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

Restaurant, Puerto Rican
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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.

La Casita Blanca

Restaurant, Puerto Rican
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Courtesy of La Casita Blanca

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.

Sarafina

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Courtesy of 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

Wine Bar, Restaurant, Puerto Rican
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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

Market, Steakhouse, $$$
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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

Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
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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

Restaurant, Puerto Rican, $$$
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Courtesy of 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

Restaurant, Puerto Rican
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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.

These recommendations were updated on July 7, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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