20 Best Restaurants in El Yunque and the Northeast, Puerto Rico

La Estación

$$$ Fodor's choice

This laid-back spot has elevated Puerto Rican street food to an art form, thanks to two New Yorkers (one Puerto Rican) with restaurant pedigrees who decided to leave the big city and open a new spot dedicated to barbecue in an old gas station outside the Conquistador Resort. Highlighting products obtained from local fishermen and farmers, and smoking their own meats in an outdoor kitchen, Idalia García and Kevin Roth's awesome joint is one of Puerto Rico's don't-miss culinary treats. Settle into one of the mismatched patio tables—be it teak, cedar, or concrete—order up a cocktail, and get ready to feast.

Rte. 987, Km 4, Las Croabas, 00738, Puerto Rico
787-863–4481
Known For
  • locally sourced produce and meats
  • delicious barbecue
  • friendly service
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues. and Wed., Reservations essential

Bocata by Campillo

$$

This Spanish-style tapas restaurant has a variety of menu items and daily specialties. They pride themselves on a robust wine menu and have a selection of decadent desserts. From serrano ham to gambas al ajillo, they have tasty and fresh dishes that will make you feel like you're in Madrid. 

PR-3 441 Ste. 1, Humacao, 00791, Puerto Rico
787-850–4429
Known For
  • jamon Iberico
  • paella
  • wine selection
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon., Reservations recommended

Brass Cactus

$$

This steak-and-chop eatery attracts so many English-speaking tourists that management doesn't bother printing a Spanish menu. Nearly every dish on the expansive menu is made to be washed down with beer. Televisions broadcast the latest sporting events, and bands often replace the jukebox on weekends. Free Wi-Fi is available.

Off Rte. 3, Luquillo, 00773, Puerto Rico
787-980–9659
Known For
  • great steaks and burgers
  • fun sports-bar atmosphere
  • reasonably priced cocktails and beer
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Wed.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Calizo

$$$

There's a string of seafood shacks in the village of Las Croabas, all serving delicious fried fish. This open-air eatery, with tables covered with straw umbrellas and anchored by a bustling square bar, takes things up a notch or two. It's almost across from the Balneario Seven Seas, making it a great place to refuel after a day at the beach. The only drawback is that it's pricey.

Rte. 987, Km 4.6, Las Croabas, 00738, Puerto Rico
787-863–3664
Known For
  • good fresh seafood
  • alfresco dining
  • rather high prices
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues.–Thurs.

Chez Daniel

$$$$

Chef Daniel Vasse's French country-style dishes are some of the island's best. The Marseille-style bouillabaisse is full of fresh fish and bursts with the flavor of a white garlic sauce. Something less French? Choose steak or fish simply prepared on the grill, and pair it with a bottle from the extensive wine cellar. A Sunday brunch buffet (including a brunch cocktail) offers a seemingly endless seafood bar, drawing people from all over the island.

1 Country Club Dr., Humacao, 00791, Puerto Rico
787-850–3838
Known For
  • French country cuisine
  • extensive wine cellar
  • upscale setting and experience
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No lunch, Reservations essential

Cremaldi

$

This ice cream shop has more than 30 flavors available and is home of the fried ice cream. The chairs are swings and the walls are coated with newspaper clippings and pictures of famous guests over the years, chronicling its long history in the community. Chances are high you'll find the owner on site, serving guests herself. 

Calle Union 62, Fajardo, 00738, Puerto Rico
787-801–1770
Known For
  • fried ice cream
  • made-to-order waffle cones
  • banana splits

Degree 18 Juice Bar

$

A rare vegan find on the island, this outdoor eatery features healthy smoothies, fresh juices, acai bowls, vegan burgers, and more. The setting is an outdoor garden with board games and hammocks. 

Ekelekua

$$

Best known for their brunch, the cuisine here is a blend of Puerto Rican and European influences. The arepa Benedict is a welcome twist on a well-known dish, and options like the guava French toast boast island flavors. They also have a tapas menu with items like ceviche and croquettes.

PR-3 Bo. Jiménez, Río Grande, 00745, Puerto Rico
787-953–0303
Known For
  • coffee (ask for the special of the day)
  • arepas Benedict
  • guava French toast
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues.

El Kiosko Boricua

$

Forget McDonald's and Taco Bell; in Puerto Rico, a beachside kiosk like this one is the place to go for fast food. El Kiosko Boricua ticks all the boxes for fried Puerto Rican goodies, with alcapurrias, arepas, and bacalaítos among the items on offer. Wash it all down with fresh coconut water or the local beer, Medalla.

Rte. 187, Piñones, Puerto Rico
787-596–1684
Known For
  • fast food, Puerto Rican style
  • ultracasual setting
  • cash only
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.

El Nuevo Acuario

$$

One among the ever-changing cast of restaurants along Route 187, the New Aquarium, like its neighbors, won't win any awards for decor and design. The setting here is decidedly laid-back, with plastic tables and chairs serving as the humble backdrop for some stellar seafood. Vegetarians should request the special meatless mofongo. The service is friendly and attentive, and the location—a literal stone's throw from the Atlantic—can't be beat.

Punta Cangrejos, Piñones, Puerto Rico
787-662–8258
Known For
  • fresh seafood
  • ultracasual setting
  • good service
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues. and Sun.

El Parrilla

$$
Like its neighbors along Route 187, which fronts the Atlantic, El Parrilla specializes in seafood. Trunkfish fritters and seafood empanadillas are tasty starters, while the hearty seafood stew called asopao is the main event, and flan with fresh coconut can't be missed.
Rte. 187, Loíza, Puerto Rico
787-876–3191
Known For
  • the freshest seafood
  • traditional Puerto Rican–style asopao
  • cash only
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.–Wed.

La Parrilla

$$$

There are dozens of kioskos, or food stands, along Route 3 on the way to Luquillo Beach, most offering humble local fare, much of it fried. This full-service restaurant raises the bar for its culinary counterparts. Open every day, usually satisfying at least one rowdy tourist bus, the open-air spot delivers sizzling seafood in generous portions. There are even a couple of steaks on the menu that are guaranteed to satisfy the most ravenous carnivores. Like its neighbors, La Parrilla faces the street, but there's a comfortable patio in the rear where you can kick back with an ice-cold beer or sangria and escape the traffic noise.

Rte. 3, Luquillo, 00773, Puerto Rico
Known For
  • good grilled seafood
  • alfresco dining
  • steaks for the non-fish eaters

Las Picuas 123 Seafood

$$$

This seafood restaurant serves fresh-caught fish and is recommended during lobster season for a larger-than-life stuffed Caribbean spiny lobster. They have outdoor seating available with scenic swinging seats, as well as a bar on-site making popular concoctions from sangria to mojitos.

PR-968 s/n, Río Grande, 00745, Puerto Rico
787-953–4200
Known For
  • sangria
  • mofongo
  • whole Caribbean lobster

Las Vistas Cafe

$$

This rooftop cafe boasts 360-degree views, shaded by patio umbrellas and located by the water. With gluten-free options and the owner herself greeting guests upon arrival, it is a personable and surprisingly healthy find. 

Latin Gyros

$$

Offering the best lamb gyros on the island, this is a casual breakfast and lunch spot serving Mediterranean dishes with a Puerto Rican flair. From falafel to baklava, there are large portions to ensure you don't leave hungry. They also have a variety of coffee options and natural juices made from Puerto Rican fruits like tamarindo, passion fruit, and acerola. 

Lluvia Deli Bar and Artefacto

$$

This restaurant is locally owned and family run. They have a popular brunch menu with hearty meal options and recently completed an outdoor expansion to include a taco bar and pizza oven. Vegan dishes are available. 

Lolita's

$$

When it comes to Mexican food, this place is the real deal. For lunch, grab a few tacos (soft or crispy), or try one of the classic Mexican entrées. There's a reason devoted travelers return regularly. Wash down the generous portions with oversize margaritas to match, or choose from a large selection of Mexican beers. The pleasant dining room, decorated with slightly kitschy paintings of simple village life, is on the second floor of a building just east of Luquillo. Parking is limited.

Rte. 3, Km 41.3, Luquillo, 00773, Puerto Rico
Known For
  • authentic Mexican cuisine
  • generous portions
  • good (and large) margaritas

Palio

$$$$

Northern Italian dishes—such as veal marsala or fillet of beef with a caramelized shallot Barolo reduction—are the star attractions at this top-notch restaurant, where the staff is attentive and amiable. The dining room, with its black-and-white checkerboard floor and dark-wood paneling, is elegant and refined. Before sunset, you can catch a glimpse of the sea through dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows. After dinner, specialty coffees are served in mugs engulfed in blue flames, a showstopper that has people at neighboring tables applauding.

6000 Río Mar Blvd., Río Grande, 00745, Puerto Rico
787-888–6000
Known For
  • Caesar salad prepared tableside
  • great ocean views, particularly at sunset
  • attentive service
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No lunch, Reservations essential

Pasión por el Fogón

$$$

At this beloved Fajardo restaurant, chef Myrta Pérez Toledo transforms traditional dishes into something special. Succulent cuts of meat and fish are presented in unexpected ways. A perfectly cooked flank steak rolled into a cylinder served on end has a slightly sweet tamarind sauce that brings out the meat's earthy flavors. If you're a seafood lover, start with the lime-infused red snapper ceviche and move on to lobster medallions broiled in butter. For dessert, order the Caribbean Sun, an ice cream sundae that blends caramel, cinnamon, and chocolate toppings.

Rte. 987, Km 2.3, Fajardo, 00735, Puerto Rico
787-863–3502
Known For
  • contemporary Caribbean cuisine
  • fresh seafood
  • great desserts
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues., Reservations essential

Richie's Café

$$$

Perched on a mountaintop, this restaurant—a convenient option for Wyndham Grand Río Mar guests who don't want to dine on-site but are willing to pay resort prices—has a pair of open-air dining rooms with views to Vieques on a clear day. The atmosphere is festive; there's often a game playing on one of the big screens or a local band jamming on the weekend. Seafood is the specialty here—try the fried plantain appetizer, filled with shrimp, conch, octopus, or lobster, then move on to the whole red snapper or the pineapple rice with shrimp served on the pineapple itself.