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. 1919

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    Michelin-starred, Puerto Rico–born Chef Juan José Cuevas successfully operates this fine-dining restaurant in San Juan's most striking hotel...Read More

  • 2. Acapulco Taquería Mexicana

    $ | Mexican

    Located behind a pawn shop, Acapulco doesn't have the most inspiring address, but you should make a point to seek out this tiny restaurant to...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Marmalade

    $$$$ | Old San Juan | Eclectic

    Peter Schintler, the U.S.-born owner-chef of Old San Juan's hippest—and finest—restaurant, apprenticed with Raymond Blanc and Gordon Ramsay...Read More

  • 6. Pikayo

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    Celebrity chef and Puerto Rico native Wilo Benet's flagship restaurant makes the most of its elegant surroundings at the Condado Plaza Hilton...Read More

  • 7. Santaella

    $$$ | Santurce | Puerto Rican

    During his career, Chef José Santaella has trained with some of the best chefs in the world, including Ferrán Adriá, Eric Ripert, and Gary Danko...Read More

  • 8. Verde Mesa

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Vegetarian

    With punched-tin ceilings, mason-jar light fixtures, and eclectic decor inspired by Versailles' Petit Trianon , this pescatarian restaurant...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Aguaviva

    $$$$ | Old San Juan | Seafood

    The name means "jellyfish," which explains why this ultramodern place has dim blue lighting and jellyfish-shape lamps floating overhead. Eating...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Augusto's

    $$$$ | Miramar | European

    Under the direction of noted chef Ariel Rodríguez, this restaurant is one of the more celebrated in the San Juan area, popular with the city...Read More

  • 13. Bar Gitano

    $$$ | Spanish

    Themed as a traditional Andalusian-style tasca , this popular tapas bar is decorated with artwork created from Madrid bullfighting photographs...Read More

  • 14. Bebo's Café

    $$ | Santurce | Puerto Rican

    Huge platters of delicious comida criolla are constantly streaming out of the kitchen here. Low prices and a family atmosphere ensure that...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. BLT Steak

    $$$$ | Steakhouse

    The sprawling dining room in this branch of Chef Laurent Tourondel's mini-chain invites you to relax: it's stylish and comfortable, with long...Read More

  • 18. Budatai

    $$$$ | Asian

    You'll feel as if you're entering a secret club when you arrive at this stylish hotspot in Condado's poshest shopping district. The restaurant...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Café Berlin

    $$ | Old San Juan | International

    A handful of tables spill onto a sidewalk deck lit with tiny lights at this bohemian and romantic restaurant overlooking Plaza Colón. There...Read More

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