11 Best Restaurants in Old San Juan, San Juan

Café Don Ruiz


Tucked away in the corner of the old Spanish military barracks, Café Don Ruiz serves some of the finest coffee in town. It's sourced from a family-run hacienda in Yauco that's known for its handpicked coffee, grown more than 3,000 feet above sea level. The medium-dark roast is a favorite: well balanced with essences of chocolate, caramel, and citrus. The shop also sells fruit frappés, sandwiches, and crepes.

Carli's Fine Bistro & Piano


As you might guess from the name, the music is as much of a draw as the food at Carli's. The genial owner and host, Carli Muñoz, toured for a number of years with the Beach Boys (note the gold album on the wall) and plays nightly with his jazz trio, often accompanied by singers and musicians who happen to drop in. Inside the skyline-dominating Banco Popular building, this intimate supper-club bistro has elegant tables scattered around the room and a bar made of black Italian granite. Have a seat indoors or on the outdoor out on the patio, and dine on such fusion specialties as pumpkin and shrimp risotto, filet mignon with wild mushroom sauce, or blackened ahi tuna with Cajun spices.

Calle Recinto Sur at Calle San Justo, 00901, Puerto Rico
Known For
  • live jazz
  • Caribbean-style tapas
  • classy ambience
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. No lunch



This casual, no-frills restaurant in the residential section of Old San Juan serves some of the best comida criolla in town. The short menu is packed with flavor, featuring favorites like roasted pork, rice and beans (which pair perfectly with the homemade hot sauces), empanadas, tostones, and homemade sausage. The sample platter, big enough for two, will leave you stuffed and with a great understanding of the cuisine locals are so proud of.

200 Calle Sol, 00901, Puerto Rico
Known For
  • comida criolla
  • roasted pork with rice and beans
  • sample platter big enough for two
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun.

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El Patio de Sam


The airy courtyard and the comida criolla are among the draws at this local, come-as-you-are restaurant—the perfect spot to end a workweek or a long day of sightseeing. The menu consists mostly of American and Puerto Rican fare. Save room for the homemade flan, which melts in your mouth.

102 Calle San Sebastián, 00901, Puerto Rico
Known For
  • typical Puerto Rican specialties
  • homemade flan
  • casual atmosphere

La Madre


La Madre is a hip Mexican restaurant, with a stylish, young clientele to match. Yes, it covers the standards, including some very tasty tacos, enchiladas, and chilaquiles, but you'll also find innovative, modern, international interpretations of Mexican cuisine. With well-priced margaritas, you can afford to sample more unusual flavors like cucumber, soursop, Caribbean cherry, and tamarind. The sleek dining room feels artsy and dreamlike, with classic cartoons and old movies projected silently onto a wall. Brunch is served on weekends, and seating is available outdoors. A neighboring speakeasy specializes in tequila and mezcal cocktails.

351 Calle San Francisco, 00901, Puerto Rico
Known For
  • popular weekend brunch
  • outdoor seating
  • large variety of margaritas

Pirilo Pizza Rustica


Day and night, locals flock to Pirilo to indulge in San Juan's finest pizza. Owner Eduardo Rubio makes everything from scratch, most notably the crust, which uses a 300-year-old starter as its base. Ask to sit on the second floor, which has substantial seating, high ceilings, and a bar focused on craft beers. The menu ranges from classics like the margherita to a pie inspired by the local tripleta sandwich. Given the nightly crowds, it's clear that others are in on the secret: there may be a wait, but everyone will be having such a good time that you won't mind, especially with more than 50 brews on the list.

207 Calle Tanca, 00901, Puerto Rico
Known For
  • pizza, both traditional and not
  • late-night eats
  • 50 craft beers



You can't miss this lively restaurant, thanks to its waitresses in all-white campesina (peasant) dresses. Themed as a country venue, with artsy re-creations of rustic life, it feels a bit Disneyfied, but that doesn't stop the locals and tourists—who may have seen it featured on various TV shows and who are willing to wait more than an hour for a table—from packing in for comida criolla. Signature dishes are the giant deep-fried kan kan pork chop, and mofongo with churrasco (marinated skirt steak). The garlic shrimp mofongo, served country-style in a pilón (pestle), is quite tasty. Drinks, including fruity frappés, come in tin mugs.

315 Calle Recinto Sur, 00901, Puerto Rico
Known For
  • kan kan pork chop and churrasco
  • themed ambience
  • long waits
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Reservations not accepted



Tucked away on the second floor of the historic El Convento Hotel, Santísmo is a dreamy and romantic dining destination. A stone oven is used to cook many of the dishes, including the catch of the day.  All dining is alfresco on two terraces overlooking the hotel's striking arches. It's a great spot for a date night.

St. Germain Bistro & Café


The service at this charming, French-inspired café-restaurant on a quiet cobblestone corner is friendly, and the interior is inviting, with rustic, white wooden tables and benches. The sandwiches, entrée salads, quiches, pita pizzas, and other menu items are made with fresh ingredients. Indeed, the lighter fare here might be a welcome respite from the city's delicious but often heavy comida criolla. Start with an agua fresca, a mildly sweet fruit water that revives you quickly, even on the hottest of days. Save room for the just-baked cakes beckoning from glass stands on the counter. Weekend brunch is popular, so come early, or stop by later in the evening for crepes and wine. Check out the second-floor cocktail bar or the rooftop wine bar, Al Fresco.

Stuffed Avocado


The stuffed avocado bowls served at this small eatery, run by brothers Joel and Javier Pierluisi, make it a great spot for a quick, healthy bite. Build your own, or choose from signature options like chipotle chicken with cilantro cream, spicy salmon with masago and seaweed salad, or pulled pork with mamposteao rice. Vegan and vegetarian options are available.

Trois Cent Onze

The perfectly lighted dining room—with crystal chandeliers, colonial arches, Moorish tiles, long drapes, and checkered marble floors—is a true example of Old San Juan charm. The menu is a mix of classic French with nouveau interpretations. The amuse-bouche may be a translucent green-apple ravioli with creamy goat cheese and roasted almonds—subtle, delicate, and flavorful. One of the menu's stars is the honey-roasted duck breast with a blood-orange wine reduction. Save room for dessert, particularly the soufflé of the day.
311 Calle Fortaleza, 00901, Puerto Rico
Known For
  • romantic atmosphere
  • French-inspired cuisine
  • small but well-chosen wine list
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch