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.

Dress codes vary greatly, though a restaurant's price category is a good indicator of its formality. 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 local bakeries (called panaderías) are your best bet. 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 locally grown, single-origin, shade-grown coffee, this micro-roastery and café is the place to do it. Owners Pablo Muñoz...Read More

  • 2. Jose Enrique

    $$$ | Santurce | Puerto Rican

    Since 2007, Chef Jose Enrique's eponymous restaurant has been the preferred choice of locals, and he is the first Puerto Rican chef to receive...Read More

  • 3. 1041 Gastronomia de Barrio

    $$ | Miramar | Argentine

    Across the street from the Conservatory of Music, 1041 Gastronomia de Barrio is one of a number of fine new restaurants popping up in Miramar...Read More

  • 4. Ali Baba

    $$ | Middle Eastern

    Tucked discreetly off Ashford Avenue, Ali Baba turns out delicious, meticulously prepared Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, thanks to its...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Bistro Burger

    $ | Old San Juan | Burger

    After exploring El Morro, head to Bistro Burger on Calle San Sebastián for what locals consider the best burgers in town. Choose from the house...Read More

  • 7. Café 4 Estaciones

    $ | Old San Juan | Café

    At Café 4 Estaciones, tables and chairs sit under a canvas canopy surrounded by potted plants. This tiny kiosk-café is the perfect spot to put...Read More

  • 8. 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. The family-run hacienda...Read More

  • 9. Caficultura

    $$ | Old San Juan | Café

    One of the best cafés to open in San Juan in recent years, Caficultura prides itself both on its full coffee-bar menu and its delicious cocina...Read More

  • 10. Casita Miramar

    $$ | Miramar | Puerto Rican

    Nestled in the heart of Miramar, a predominantly residential neighborhood, Casita Miramar is a family-run restaurant known for its traditional...Read More

  • 11. El Patio de Sam

    $$ | Old San Juan | Puerto Rican

    A great selection of more than 30 beers, including the locally brewed Medalla, makes this a popular "come as you are" spot, whether at the end...Read More

  • 12. El Pescador

    $$ | Santurce | Seafood

    If you want Spanish-style seafood dishes, head to El Pescador at the Plaza del Mercado. Surrounding a fruit and vegetable market that dates...Read More

  • 13. Gallo Negro

    $$$ | Santurce | American

    Serving dishes that are difficult to find in San Juan, Gallo Negro operates in a small space reminiscent of a Brooklyn, New York, joint, with...Read More

  • 14. Kasalta

    $$ | Café

    Those who think coffee can never be too strong should make a beeline to Kasalta and its amazing pitch-black brew. Display cases are full of...Read More

  • 15. La Fonda del Jibarito

    $$ | Old San Juan | Puerto Rican

    The menus are handwritten and the tables wobble, but Sanjuaneros have favored this casual, no-frills, family-run restaurant—tucked away on a...Read More

  • 16. La Jaquita Baya

    $$ | Miramar | Puerto Rican

    La Jaquita, as it is known by locals, is one of the city's best farm-to-table restaurants. Chef Xavier Pacheco elevates commonly home-cooked...Read More

  • 17. Pinky's

    $ | Café

    High school students, tourists, and locals all pack in for some of the freshest wraps and sandwiches in town at this playful café, where the...Read More

  • 18. Pirilo

    $ | Old San Juan | Pizza

    Day and night, locals flock to Pirilo to indulge in some of the finest pizza to be had in San Juan. The restaurant now boasts a second floor...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Tresbé

    $ | Caribbean

    It's hard to miss this bright yellow container on Calle Loíza. Tresbé stands for bueno , bonito , barato , a common saying that means good...Read More

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