San Juan Recommendations???

Aug 9th, 2004, 06:54 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 60
San Juan Recommendations???

My husband and I will be vacationing at ESJ Towers in San Juan next month. We always like to get restaurant recommendations before we go. Would love to hear about your favorite restaurants.... We usually rent a car and explore the island when we get there; however I've read that driving in Puerto Rico is crazy - should we avoid it? What are Vieques & Culebro like - should we take a trip to either one? Thanks for your advice!
Mlgostyla is offline  
Aug 9th, 2004, 07:05 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 110
My 2 favorite restaurants in san juan are dragonfly and Pikayo. Dragonfly is dark and hip and great food and fun. Pikayo is more for a special night out for 2. You can't go wrong with those 2. We have never rented a car, but a friend did and loved it.
mamby is offline  
Aug 10th, 2004, 06:44 AM
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Driving in Puerto Rico is fine EXCEPT for driving in Old San Juan. Don't do that. Very congested, narrow streets, hard to find parking (people will park on sidewalks)...

We had lunch at "El Picoteo Bar & Tapas" at the Convento Hotel in Old San Juan. The restaurant is in a courtyard setting (very pretty). My husband had some sort of baked cheese and tomato sauce (he said it was excellent). I had chicken croquettes and some type of pastry stuffed with ground beef (the croquettes were odd, but the pastry was excellent).

We had dinner at "Carli Café Concierto" in Old San Juan (our favorite restaurant). I had a filet mignon with vegetables and my husband had a salmon filet. The food was EXCELLENT!! The place is owned by Carli Munoz who was once a pianist for the Beach Boys (says Frommer's). He was there and played the piano during our dinner. The restaurant is geared for adults, it's small, dark inside, mood lighting, very sexy type of place (you can eat outside as well, but you won't get the same feeling). I would recommend making reservations if you go on a weekend because the place is so small. We were there on a Wednesday and at 6pm so it was not crowded.

We also had dinner at the "Parrot Club" in Old San Juan (our 2nd best dinner in Puerto Rico!). I had chicken on a skewer with bbq sauce, rice, black beans, and my husband had the brazed pork shank. The food was also EXCELLENT! I swear we got our food 5 minutes after we ordered! Quickest service we ever got anywhere we ever traveled! The place was packed when we got there so it was a bit loud. It is bigger than above restaurant, and fyi they don't take reservations. Mood lighting as well at that place, but not as dark as above restaurant. The walls are painted a burnt orange with paintings of palm leaves in some places.

If you do a search for my screen name, you'll eventually find my trip report "Puerto Rico/Caribe Hilton Trip Report".
Have a great time.
Aug 10th, 2004, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 28,292
You will be right next door to the El San Juan, which has several very good restaurants. If you feel like Italian one night, I'd recommend La Piccola Fontana, which services northern Italian food. It's very good. Also, across the street from your hotel is Metropol, which serves very affordable Puerto Rican/Cuban food. Two of my favorite entrees there include the stuffed (with black beans and rice) cornish hen and the smoked chicken.
tom42 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2004, 09:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Metropol is a favoritev with locals. For a full breakfast at a reasonable price (it was $3) try MI Casita. It is in a small strip mall across the street from the Intercontinental. They also serve lunch and dinner and it is popular with locals - PR food, The Old San Juan restaurants mentioned are good but getting to and from OSJ by taxi will cost about $16 each way. Driving is not all that bad but if you drive into into OSJ put the car in the garage near the ship piers
Rob is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 02:21 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 100
La Piccola Fontana in El San Juan is very very good but not cheap just an fyi.
I heard that the japanese restaurant in the Intercontinental is also very good although I never personally ate there.

Also in Numero Uno guest house there is supposedly a incredible island type restaurant that I saw on tv. The guest house is on the beach in Ocean Side or Ocean Side park something like that...anyway the place is small but you can eat right on the beach. I believe this is the website for it
I drove in PR and its not that bad. You have to just stay focused and have your husband navigate and look for road signs and DOGS and vice versa....there are alot of strays - unfortunately...
You also may want to try heading into the mountains near Adjuntas and to the west coast of PR to Rincon or Isabela. San Juan does not do the island justice at all. It is a city and the true culture is not necessarily what you get there (in San Juan)Have a great time...
liasun71 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 08:42 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 61
We've been to SJU several times and drove most times all over the island. We live near Boston so driving in San Juan is no different. Just make sure to pay attention on the road because there, they don't.

As far as favorite restaurant, the Numero Uno Guesthouse in-house restaurant is called Pamela's. A former New York Chef who opened this guesthouse so the cooking is nouveau chic. It is very good and you can eat right on the beach so your toes touch the sand, however, lots of mosquitoes you may want to stay indoors...they might have citronella for mosquito control, you should check. Firefly's is an excellent restaurant --- it is Latin Asian cuisine so that in itself is worth the trip.

Our most favorite of all is Cafe Puerto Rico in Old San Juan at Calle O'Donnell, I believe. It is in the Plaza de Colon around the corner from Parrot Club and Firefly's. Cafe Puerto Rico is a Mom and Pop cafe-type place. Drinks are to die for!!!

redmaria is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 09:56 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 23
You have received some great recommendations.

Pikayo may be expensive, but is well worth the splurge.

Metropol is a must if you want more "typical" fare, but for the die-hards out there, it is important to clarify that Metropol is Cuban NOT Puertorican food. Try the Mofongo with camarones (shrimp).

The Parrot Club is also a great bet in OSJ.

If you are truely adventurous and have a car I HIGHLY recommend a little restaurant called El Cuñao in Cayey. It is a bit of a drive and not for the faint of heart, since getting there requires going up (and down) the mountains on two lane roads, but that is half the fun. The food here is scrumptous and authentically Puertorican. Try the pasteles (de masa OR yucca) and lechon. You can also have a similar lunch at the Casita Blanca in San Juan. Much easier to get to and great decor. Don't be turned off by the surrounding neighborhood which might seem a bit scary but it perfectly fine.

I also recommend going to Piñones Beach. While it is not a great beach for swimming / sunning there are a multidude of stands selling all sorts of interesting foods. Make sure you try balacaitos fritos. these are big chewy deep fried disks of dough that have peices of salted cod in them (so delicious) as well as alcapurrias.

if you find yourself at a "Reposteria" (bakery) try a Medianoche sandwich or a Cuban sandwich with a coffee and finish with a quesito (a puff pastry filled with sweetened cream cheese). make sure you quesito is warm.

Really there are too many yummy things to eat. And don't worry about the driving it is NOT as bad as people make it out to be.

sturgeon0 is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 11:21 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 58
I second the Parrot Club wholeheartedly... amazing food..

Also, try Baru in Old San Juan... great spot and gourmet food...
melody13 is offline  
Sep 13th, 2004, 05:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 60
Thanks everyone for your great advice!. I really appreciate it. We are leaving a week from Friday. I hope the hurricanes stay clear of the island. Adios!
Mlgostyla is offline  
Sep 13th, 2004, 05:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 298
Ruth's Chris in the Intercontinental Hotel. Best steak I've ever had and excellent baby spinach salad, yum!
KarenM is offline  

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