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. 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

  • 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. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Raíces

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Puerto Rican

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

  • 7. Santísimo

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Contemporary

    Tucked away on the second floor of the historic El Convento Hotel, Santísmo is one of old town's newest dining destinations. After years of...Read More

  • 8. Trois Cent Onze

    $$$ | Old San Juan | French

    The perfectly lighted dining room—with crystal chandeliers, colonial arches, Moorish tiles, long drapes, and checkered marble floors—is a true...Read More

  • 9. Vianda

    $$$ | Santurce | Eclectic

    Driven by local ingredients and seasonality, chef Francis Guzman’s dishes are culinary delights (think: California cuisine with Puerto Rican...Read More

  • 10. YOKO

    $$$ | Ocean Park | Japanese

    The decor is minimalist yet inviting, a nod to Japan's tradition of elegant simplicty, and the culinary experience is spectacular. Start with...Read More

  • 11. Ajili-Mójili

    $$$ | Caribbean

    A Puerto Rico landmark with a noble objective: Cook as Grandma used to, largely with locally sourced ingredients. Gone are the white tablecloths...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Barú

    $$$ | Old San Juan | Eclectic

    A global menu has earned Barú a solid reputation among sanjuaneros, so this stylishly contemporary restaurant in a 275-year-old colonial townhouse...Read More

  • 14. Chayote

    $$$ | Miramar | Eclectic

    Slightly off the beaten path, this chic eatery is definitely an "in" spot. The chef gives haute international dishes tropical panache. Starters...Read More

  • 15. Cherry Blossom

    $$$ | Asian

    It's clear when you walk through the delicately etched glass doors that this place has a split personality. To the left is a sedate little sushi...Read More

  • 16. Delirio

    $$$ | Miramar | Eclectic

    Set in a century-old family home, this sexy dining room has the look of a boudoir, decorated almost entirely in deep reds with paintings by...Read More

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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

  • 19. Gallo Negro

    $$$ | Santurce | Modern American

    Chef María Mercedes's menu has wide-ranging international influences—from Spain to Turkey to Korea—and includes small plates with flavors that...Read More

  • 20. Jam Rum Bar + Bistro Moderne

    $$$ | Eclectic

    This tucked-away spot may not look like a restaurant from the outside, but inside it's a study in modern design, in whites, oranges, greens...Read More

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