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. Café Berlin

    $$ | Old San Juan | International

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

  • 2. Carli's Fine Bistro & 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. St. Germain Bistro & Café

    $ | Old San Juan | International

    The service at this charming, French-inspired café-restaurant on a quiet cobblestone corner is friendly, and the interior is inviting, with...Read More

  • 4. 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

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