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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Caficultura

    $$ | Old San Juan | Café

    Caficultura prides itself on its full coffee-bar, its mimosas made with fresh juice, and its all-day breakfast and brunch menu (try the coconut...Read More

  • 8. El Jibarito

    $$ | Old San Juan | Puerto Rican

    The menus are handwritten, and the tables wobble, but locals in the know have favored this no-frills, family-run restaurant—tucked away on a...Read More

  • 9. El Patio de Sam

    $$ | Old San Juan | Puerto Rican

    The airy courtyard and the comida criolla are among the draws at this local, come-as-you-are restaurant—the perfect spot to end a workweek or...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. La Madre

    $$ | Old San Juan | Mexican

    La Madre is a hip Mexican restaurant, with a stylish, young clientele to match. Yes, it covers the standards, including some very tasty tacos...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Metropol Restaurant and Bar

    $$ | Isla Verde | Caribbean

    Across the street from a string of major hotels, this casual restaurant doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside it's decorated in...Read More

  • 16. Miramar Food Truck Park

    $$ | Miramar | Eclectic

    Proprietor Yareli Manning runs this food-truck park in the heart of Miramar, where seating is at communal picnic tables. Though the roster of...Read More

  • 17. Nonna

    $$ | Ocean Park | Italian

    This cozy spot does a wonderful job with traditional Italian dishes of the kind that your nonna (grandmother) might have made. The mozzarella...Read More

  • 18. Paulina Escanes

    $$ | Condado | Contemporary

    Pastry chef Paulina Escanes brings a fresh and refreshing concept to the heart of Condado. Her restaurant turns out dishes inspired by her travels...Read More

  • 19. Pirilo Pizza Rustica

    $$ | Old San Juan | Pizza

    Day and night, locals flock to Pirilo to indulge in San Juan's finest pizza. Owner Eduardo Rubio makes everything from scratch, most notably...Read More

  • 20. Rosa & Elena

    $$ | Miramar | American

    At breakfast, this Instagram-friendy restaurant serves dishes like avocado toast on grilled sourdough with a poached egg or bagels with smoked...Read More

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