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. 1919 Restaurant

    $$$$ | Condado | Eclectic

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

  • 2. Casita Miramar

    $$ | Miramar | Puerto Rican

    This family-run restaurant in the heart of residential Miramar is known for its traditional comida criolla. It feels more like a home than a...Read More

  • 3. Santaella

    $$$ | Santurce | Puerto Rican

    A career working with top chefs and a successful catering business prefaced chef José Santaella's namesake restaurant in La Placita marketplace...Read More

  • 4. Acapulco Taquería Mexicana

    $ | Ocean Park | Mexican

    Located behind a pawn shop, Acapulco doesn't have the most inspiring location, but you should seek out this tiny restaurant for some of the...Read More

  • 5. Ali Baba Turkish Restaurant

    $$ | Condado | Middle Eastern

    Standing discreetly just off Avenida Ashford, Ali Baba turns out delicious, meticulously prepared Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, thanks...Read More

  • 6. Ariel

    $$$$ | Miramar | European

    Under the direction of noted chef Ariel Rodríguez, one of the city's more celebrated restaurants is popular with the local elite for its old...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Bocca Osteria Romana

    $$ | Ocean Park | Italian

    Located at the end of Calle Loíza, this family-run restaurant specializes in Roman dishes. The open kitchen turns out dishes like spaghetti...Read More

  • 10. Cocina Abierta

    $$$ | Condado | Eclectic

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

  • 11. Egg Joint

    $ | Ocean Park | Burger

    Tasty sandwiches and burgers are available all day long at this small joint. The onion smasher comes with two beef patties, finely shredded...Read More

  • 12. El Hamburguer

    $ | Puerta de Tierra | Burger

    After a day at Playa Escambron, grab a bite and a beer at this hole- in-the-wall joint, where a tiny kitchen rapidly custom-charbroils burgers...Read More

  • 13. Entrevinos

    $$$$ | Isla Verde | Wine Bar

    Here, the wines are reasonably priced, and the menu is varied, with favorites like osso bucco, beef carpaccio, grilled octopus, lobster risotto...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Jose Enrique

    $$$ | Condado | Puerto Rican

    Although it recently moved from Santurce to Condado, the restaurant of chef Jose Enrique—who's been nominated for the prestigious James Beard...Read More

  • 16. Kabanas

    $$ | Condado | Mexican

    Parmesan-crusted tacos are the draw here, with favorites including the fish, pulled-pork, or vegetarian-friendly falafel versions. Pair yours...Read More

  • 17. 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

  • 18. La Cueva del Mar

    $$ | Ocean Park | Seafood

    Families with kids, beachgoers in flip-flops, and businesspeople all flock to this casual, marine-themed restaurant, renowned for its seafood...Read More

  • 19. Mai Pen Rai

    $$ | Santurce | Thai

    Chef Kelly Piro perfectly executes such Thai dishes as som tam (papaya salad), drunken noodles with barbecue pork, and green curry with shrimp...Read More

  • 20. Mario Pagan

    $$$$ | Condado | Caribbean

    Celebrity chef Mario Pagan dazzles diners—among them businesspeople trying to impress their counterparts—with his creative, modern Puerto Rican...Read More

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