Dan and I really enjoy our food and drink, and we think that Puerto Rico has some of the best in the United States! I’ve compiled a list of some of our old and new favorites – be sure to check them our if you find yourself in lovely Puerto Rico!
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO EATS
Jose Enrique is certainly my and Dan’s absolute favorite restaurant in San Juan. I wrote about it at length here. I won’t rehash my entire post, but Jose Enrique is an excellent restaurant with upscale, delicious Puerto Rican dishes in the Condado area. Make a reservation in advance. Don’t miss it. You will thank me.
El Jabrito is a classic Puerto Rican restaurant in Old San Juan. If you read guide books, El Jabrito will likely come up. Nothing super fancy or expensive, just quality, local food. You will find tourists and locals here lining up for dinner (as there are no reservations). We’ve visited a couple times, most recently in April 2021, and will return. Definitely go with a Puerto Rican dish, and don’t forget the pitcher of sangria!
La Vianda is another upscale restaurant in San Juan, this time in the La Placita neighborhood, making it perfect for a meal after drinks in La Placita! I found La Vianda to be a bit more international than Puerto Rican in terms of menu, but everything we tasted was absolutely delicious. In addition to a la carte, La Vianda often does reasonably priced tasting menus ($65 US pp for 4 courses when we went). Make a reservation in advance.
Pirilo Pizza Rustica
While not Dan’s favorite restaurant, he will eat here when in San Juan without much convincing (he’s of the no pizza in Puerto Rico view!), and it definitely makes my list of good eats in Old San Juan! Pirilo Pizza Rustica is located in Old San Juan in an old building across two floors. The menu is fun with a focus on pizza and the like, although there is local food on offer as well, including pizza with some Puerto Rican flair! We first ate here in 2013 and keep returning for a casual meal. The cocktails at Pirilo are also solid. Pirilo also has locations at Ocean Park and Dorado. Don’t miss the fried cheese or shoestring fries with cilantro sauce!
Cafeteria Mallorca is an old school cafeteria in Old San Juan. Cafeteria Mallorca’s specialty is, not surprisingly, the Mallorca, a sweet bun that is often used as a “roll” for ham and cheese and topped with powdered sugar. Yes, powdered sugar! While not my personal favorite dish, it is a Puerto Rican classic. Stop in for a casual breakfast or lunch if you are looking for real local fare.
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO DRINKS
Casa de Montecristo
Ah, Casa de Montecristo. A new favorite of ours! Casa de Montecristo is a swanky cigar bar that also serves very upscale cocktails in Old San Juan. While not cheap, especially for Puerto Rico (cocktail menu below), the cocktails are strong and extremely well done. Espresso and soda are also on offer. If you need a break from the heat or are simply a cigar fan, plan a stop here. Dan loves cigars, so we visit cigar bars a lot when we travel. This is definitely one of my favorite ones worldwide!
La Factoria is a fun, very popular “speakeasy” bar in Old San Juan, not too far from Casa de Montecristo. I put “speakeasy” in quotes, because its really just a bar in the back of a restaurant… That being said, La Factoria is very fun, with pretty cocktails and even champagne floaters! There is some food on the menu, too. Speaking of its popularity, La Factoria had a pop-up for three days in New York City recently.
Barrachina is the alleged creator of the Pina Colada, and there’s even a plaque outside to attest to it! Whether true or not, Barrachina does pump out tasty Pina Coladas all day. We went here just to try the Pina Colada, but Barrachina is actually a sit down restaurant complete with live parrots. This is a must do for Pina Colada enthusiasts, and it would be a fun spot for families! Make reservations online in advance for a meal – it gets crowded.
Departing from the boozy drinks, Caficultura is an adorable coffee shop in Old San Juan inside one of those old, colorful buildings. The interior is cool, and there is also outdoor seating. We visited on a rainy dan and the barista made me a cappuccino with an umbrella! A very fun stop for a coffee fix!
La Vergüenza is what I would describe as a “party bar” in Old San Juan with ocean views over looking La Perla. While the bar is nothing fantastic or terribly interesting, La Vergüenza makes very fun cocktails in a pretty setting. There is also a rooftop and sometimes live music. This is a great place to grab drinks if you are waiting for a table at El Jabrito!
Ocean Lab Brewing Company
While not technically in San Juan, Ocean Lab Brewing Company deserves a mention! Ocean Lab Brewing Company is a Puerto Rican brewery and restaurant next to the San Juan airport in Isla Verde. We had lunch here during our recent visit. The entirety of the restaurant is open air (some covered, some not), making it very Covid friendly. The food is Puerto Rican fare and it was really good for lunch or dinner. The beer was also good, though not the best beer I have ever had. Ocean Lan offers a full bar. My sister-in-law got pineapple rum with a piece of dried pineapple! This is a good spot before a flight or en route to the gorgeous Isla Verde beaches!
STEAL OUR TRIP
Jose Enrique: Casual dress, but no beach attire. Reservations highly recommended via Resy. Jose Enrique called a day or two before to confirm.
El Jabrito: 280 Calle Sol, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico. Open daily 11:00 – 9:00 PM. No reservations. Casual. Be prepared to wait a bit for dinner.
La Vianda: 1413 PR-25, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico. Open 5 – 9 PM. Closed Monday & Tuesday.
Pirilo Pizza Rustica: #207 Calle Tanca, San Juan, PR. Reservations recommended (at least for the OSJ location). OSJ location open 11:30 – 11:00 PM. Casual attire.
Cafeteria Mallorca: 300 C. de San Francisco, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico. Open 7 AM – 5:30 PM, closed Sundays. Super casual. No reservations.
Casa de Montecristo: 201 C. del Cristo, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico. Open daily 12 – 12. Upscale cigar bar with fancy drinks.
La Factoria: 148 C. San Sebastián, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico. Open 11:00 AM – 11:30 PM. Small bites on offer.
Barrachina: 104 C. de la Fortaleza, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico. Open 11:30 – 9 PM. I suggest a reservation, especially once the cruise ships start back up (maybe they have??).
Caficultura: Open 8 – 4 PM. Closed Monday & Tuesday.
La Vergüenza: 280 Bulevar del Valle, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico. Open daily 11 – Midnight.
Ocean Lab Brewing Company: 7000 Carr. 187 RR2, Carolina, 00979, Puerto Rico. Open 11:00 – 10:00 PM, a bit later on the weekend.
ON A BUDGET
For food, Cafeteria Mallorca, El Jabrito, Pirilo Pizza Rustica, and Ocean Lab Brewing are your friends. Cafeteria Mallorca is the most budget friendly. For drinks, La Vergüenza and Ocean Lab Brewing are good deals, you can also find many, many places in Old San Juan where you can grab an inexpensive Medalla, the local beer! La Placita is also a great place for inexpensive drinks.