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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Cocina Abierta

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Modern light fixtures, exposed walls, and repurposed decorative accents give Cocina Abierta one of the coolest decors in Condado. Chef Martin...Read More

  • 7. Dragonfly

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Asian

    Dark and sexy, this popular Latin-Asian restaurant, all done up in Chinese red, feels more like a fashionable after-hours lounge than a restaurant...Read More

  • 8. El Picoteo

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Spanish

    You could make a meal of the small dishes that dominate the menu at this tapas restaurant on a mezzanine balcony at the Hotel El Convento, once...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Laurel Kitchen | Art Bar

    $$$ | Santurce | International

    After the popular Chayote closed, its chef-owner, Mario Pagán, moved shop to these elegant new digs in the Museo de Arte. As the host of cooking...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Patio del Nispero

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Caribbean

    Once a convent, the boutique El Convento Hotel is home to El Patio del Nispero, its signature restaurant. Dining here is alfresco, in the impressive...Read More

  • 16. Raíces

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Puerto Rican

    You can't miss this lively restaurant thanks to the waitresses in all-white campesina (peasant) dresses. Themed as a country venue, with artsy...Read More

  • 17. The Parrot Club

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Latin American

    Loud and lively, this place is intent on making sure everyone is having a good time. You're likely to strike up a conversation with the bartender...Read More

  • 18. Toro Salao

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Spanish

    The name means "Salty Bull," and there's something about this place that makes its moniker entirely appropriate. (And it's not just the bullfighting...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Yerba Buena

    $$$ | Cuban

    Tables on the terrace are hard to come by at this Cuban restaurant, one of the busier spots in Condado. That's fine, because the glassed-in...Read More

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