San Juan Restaurants

In cosmopolitan San Juan, European, Asian, Middle Eastern, and chic fusion eateries vie for your attention, with family-owned restaurants specializing in seafood or comida criolla (creole cooking, or local Puerto Rican food). U.S. chains such as McDonald's and Subway compete with chains like Pollo Tropical and El Mesón, which specialize in local cuisine. Many of the most innovative chefs here have restaurants in the city's large hotels, but don't be shy about venturing into stand-alone establishments—many concentrated in Condado and along Calles Fortaleza and San Sebastián in Old San Juan. Old San Juan is also home to a number of notable new restaurants and cafés, offering more artisanal-style cuisine—crop-to-cup coffee, rustic homemade pizzas, and creative vegetarian food—at affordable prices. There’s a radiant pride in what the local land can provide, and these enthusiastic young restaurateurs are redefining what Puerto Rican food is, bite by tasty bite.

The dress code varies greatly from place to place, although a restaurant's price category can be taken as a good indication. For less expensive places anything but beachwear is fine; ritzier spots will expect collared shirts and long pants for men ("jacket and tie" requirements are rare) and chic attire for women. When in doubt, do as the Puerto Ricans often do and dress up.

For breakfast outside of your hotel, cafés or panaderías (local bakeries) are your best bets. It's rare for such establishments to close between breakfast and lunch; it's slightly more common for restaurants to close between lunch and dinner. Although some places don't accept reservations, it's always a good idea to make them for dinner whenever possible. This is especially true during the busy season from November through April and on weekends at any time of the year.

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  • 1. Café Cuatro Sombras

    $ | Old San Juan | Café

    If you want to try local, single-origin, shade-grown coffee, this micro-roastery and café is the place to do it. Owners Pablo Muñoz and Mariana...Read More

  • 2. Señor Paleta

    $ | Old San Juan | Café

    There's nothing more refreshing on a hot day than an ice pop from Señor Paleta. All the ingredients used to make these artisanal paletas are...Read More

  • 3. Bistro Café

    $$ | Isla Verde | Café

    This café is wildly popular and doesn't take reservations, but the offerings are worth the wait. Order the pancakes with Nutella, and the mocha...Read More

  • 4. Café 4 Estaciones

    $ | Old San Juan | Café

    At this tiny kiosk, the tables and chairs under a canvas canopy that's surrounded by potted plants invite you to put down your shopping bags...Read More

  • 5. Café Don Ruiz

    $ | Old San Juan | Café

    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...Read More

  • 6. Cafetería Mallorca

    $ | Old San Juan | Café

    The specialty at this old-fashioned, 1950s-style diner is the mallorca, a sweet pastry that's buttered, grilled, and then sprinkled with powdered...Read More

  • 7. Caficultura

    $$ | Old San Juan | Café

    Caficultura prides itself on its full coffee-bar, its mimosas made with fresh juice, and its all-day breakfast and brunch menu (try the coconut...Read More

  • 8. Gustos Café

    $ | Miramar | Café

    In addition to serving its signature Gustos coffee, grown in the mountains of Yauco, this café has simple sandwiches and pastries. You'll be...Read More

  • 9. Kasalta

    $$ | Ocean Park | Café

    This local bakery is always buzzing with locals and tourists. Display cases are full of luscious pastries, including the quesito (cream cheese...Read More

  • 10. Pinky's

    $ | Ocean Park | Café

    People pack this playful café—where bustling servers wear cheeky "Eat Me!" T-shirts—to enjoy fresh wraps, sandwiches, salads, batidas (fruit...Read More

  • 11. Ben & Jerry's

    $ | Old San Juan | Café

    On your hike up hilly Calle Cristo, stop at Ben & Jerry's at the corner of Calle Sol. Savor Vermont ice cream under a palm tree or enjoy...Read More

  • 12. La Patisserie

    $ | Café

    Everything—from pastries to pastas—is delicious at this café, which sits on a quiet block in Condado. For breakfast, wonderful omelets are stuffed...Read More

  • 13. Pinky's

    $ | Albert Park | Café

    Once a beach staple in Ocean Park, this tiny café is now tucked down an alley off the Plaza del Mercado. It's known for its gourmet wraps and...Read More

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