El amor comienza por la boca. We fall in love through our mouths, goes a local saying. For being such a small city, Old San Juan offers an incredible abundance of options for eating and drinking. From exquisite international cuisine to deftly cooked local fare, the amount of different restaurants catering to almost every taste, budget or culinary whim is so big that it can be a bit overwhelming. To help you navigate the best places for eating in this vibrant dining scene, here is a quick guide to our favorite venues in town.
These are some of the places that we recommend to start your day satisfied and happy. We are sure that you will be as pleased by these wonderful eating venues as much as we always are. These are the places that we always go back to, and we would be thrilled if you would do the same. Go with an open mind and an empty stomach. Time to feast!
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Home of the famously delicious mallorca, La Bombonera ($$) is a renowned historic restaurant, and a great place to start your morning, with an offering of all the traditional breakfast dishes. Also, for a conventional breakfast menu and Puertorrican comfort food for lunch, you should try Manolín Cafeteria ($$). It consistently serves superbly cooked dishes, with generous servings at good prices.
In the mood for waffles? Waffle-era ($$) has an impressive menu of gourmet waffles with more toppings and combinations than you can imagine. The possibilities of this restaurant (that doubles as a versatile tearoom) are not limited to breakfast; you can also enjoy remarkable and ingenious waffle combinations that make for an ideal brunch experience or a sweet and savory lunch.
Cocoa-lovers just need to visit Chocobar Cortés ($$) for an exquisite culinary experience. Their delicious and innovative gastronomic iterations of the chocolate theme are guaranteed to swoon you into submission.
For a quick, inexpensive breakfast option, you can step into El Mesón ($), a locally owned franchise specializing in sandwiches of all kinds and simplified breakfast dishes, just steps away from our hotel.
All these places provide excellent service, so that you can enjoy a first-rate breakfast. Some of the suggestions mentioned above also offer great lunch and dinner options that we recommend. However, the following venues are really must-go places, if you want to enjoy an unforgettable dining experience.
lunch + Dinner
No one should leave this island without visiting El Jibarito ($$), one of the most cherished restaurants locally, where you can get really good traditional Puertorrican food at very reasonable prices. Deaverdura ($$) is recognized as well as a really great, down to earth and inexpensive place to eat a traditional local meal. Also delving in authentic local cuisine, but elevated up a notch, is Hecho en casa ($$), home of one of the best mofongos in town. A mofongo, if you have not tried it yet, is a tasty local dish, made of fried mashed undone plantains and stuffed with your protein of choice. It will leave you raving!
If it is pizza what you are craving for, Pirilo ($$) is proud to serve the best pizza rústica in town. Their dining room décor gracefully combines the colonial architecture, typical of Old San Juan, with the style of an Italian trattoria. With an amazing variety of artisanal beers and house cocktails, as well as an extensive selection of tapas, this is an ideal place for eating, sipping and chatting around.
Catering to seafood enthusiasts, La Cueva del Mar ($$, 305 Recinto Sur St.) has a wide selection of dishes from the sea swimming on its menu. Freshness and reasonable prices always go hand in hand at La Cueva.
Tapping into an organic and local vein approach to produce and recipes, Verde Mesa ($$$) is one of the most interesting restaurants in town. Their creative style delves equally in bringing the traditional local dishes to a contemporary light, as well as in experimenting with non-traditional ingredients and preparations. Vegetarian and vegan items always find a slot in their daily menu.
If Italian food is your fetish, La Cucina di Ivo ($$$) is the place to go. They have a comprehensive menu of traditional Italian fare that is sure to satisfy the most discriminating palate.
But, for some of the most exclusive and important food critics, the most amazing all-in-all dining experience on the Island is to be had at Marmalade ($$$). Helmed by world-renowned international chef Peter Schintler. The reputation of this enormously talented chef comes through in all of the restaurant’s signature dishes.