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. Café Cuatro Sombras

    $ | Old San Juan | Café

    If you want to try local, single-origin, shade-grown coffee, this micro-roastery and café is the place to do it. Owners Pablo Muñoz and Mariana...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

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