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 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

  • 2. Carli's Fine Dining & Piano

    $$$ | Old San Juan | International

    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...Read More

  • 3. La Cucina di Ivo

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Italian

    A pretty courtyard just steps from the cathedral has been transformed into this traditional trattoria. The staff enters and leaves through leaded...Read More

  • 4. Lemongrass

    $$$ | Puerta de Tierra | Asian

    Whether you sit inside the pagoda-style building or on the large outdoor terrace of this chic restaurant, you'll feel as if you've truly escaped...Read More

  • 5. Pamela's

    $$$ | Caribbean

    If you dream of dining right on the beach, head to this Ocean Park favorite. If you prefer air-conditioning, opt for the elegant glassed-in...Read More

  • 6. Papillon Bistro

    $$$ | Miramar | French

    For a break from Puerto Rican cuisine, head to Papillon Bistro in the Marriott Courtyard for traditional French cuisine. As soon as you step...Read More

  • 7. St. Germain Bistro & Café

    $ | Old San Juan | International

    One of the city's hidden treasures, this charming French-inspired café-restaurant stands on a quiet cobbled street corner. The interior is just...Read More

  • 8. Trois Cent Onze

    $$$ | Old San Juan | French

    Step into 311 and you are immediately transported to another era. The perfectly lit dining room with its crystal chandeliers, colonial arches...Read More

  • 9. Chayote

    $$$ | Miramar | Eclectic

    Slightly off the beaten path, this chic eatery is definitely an "in" spot. The chef gives haute international dishes tropical panache. Starters...Read More

  • 10. Delirio

    $$$ | Miramar | Eclectic

    Set in a century-old family home, this sexy dining room has the look of a boudoir, decorated almost entirely in deep reds with paintings by...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. O:liva

    $$$ | Mediterranean

    Tucked away in the stylish O:live Boutique Hotel, the cuisine at O:liva is a tribute to the coastal towns of the Mediterranean. The small, rustic...Read More

  • 13. Panza

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Eclectic

    Tucked discreetly within the lobby of Chateau Cervantes, this restaurant offers a wonderful mix of different-size dishes, so you can have your...Read More

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