Just got back from a week in Puerto Rico and have to say it was fantastic. We are an older couple (mid 60’s) and were a bit worried. But it was great! Everyone was very hospitable and nothing was ever trouble.
My husband and I are retired now. We used to own a restaurant down the Cape (Massachusetts). When we travel, we like to swing by the restaurants and try the local food. Our main goal was to relax and also get to know Puerto Rican flavors.
by My Puerto Rico Experience
We never go blind when traveling. We research online because the more information you gather before you go, the less vulnerable you’ll feel. The search for Puerto Rican restaurants was broad. With the help of other reviews, we were able to pick the ones we wanted to visit. We also left space for planning upon arrival and searched for a good hotel in San Juan. The hotel staff at the Courtyard in San Juan suggested 2 more Puerto Rican restaurants.
I will describe the restaurants as part of this review to help other travelers who are looking to try excellent Puerto Rican food. These 5 were the best. They go from very traditional to more creative and gourmet.
A 30 year-old restaurant distinguished by its authentic flavors and traditional cooking methods. Don’t expect it to be fancy, but the food is great. Once you arrive, they give you free “bacalaítos” (cod fritters) or chicken soup. You can order traditional dishes like plantain stuffed with grounded beef, pig’s feet with garbanzo bean, chicken fricassee, and much more. Head’s up: the menu is in Spanish.
Located in Old San Juan, this restaurant serves Puerto Rican food, gourmet style. More expensive than the typical “fonda” (small restaurant), but it’s worth it. The meats were well seasoned. We tried goat, lamb and rabbit. The chef told us most of their ingredients are locally produced. We had a very nice, relax and fresh dinner.
La Jaquita Baya
I like to describe it as the creative version of Puerto Rican food. You can find from classic rice and mashed rooted vegetables to ceviche. We had the pork belly with “mofongo” and the “pastelito”. Both were exquisite!
Don’t get confused with the first restaurant I mentioned. This one is called CasaBlanca Neighborhood Grill. It’s part of the culinary local trend called “new Puerto Rican cuisine”. You’ll find a mix of local and international flavors. Chef Ventura Vivoni is a well-known chef. His ceviche with Caribbean flavors was incredibly good.
Don’t be put off by the location. This restaurant should be on your wish list. The snapper with papaya and avocado is the best whole fried fish I’ve ever eaten in my life (and I’m from the Cape!). Their meaty menu is also great. The restaurant is small (very poor acoustic) and there’s usually a long waiting line.
Now that we are back home, we’re dreaming of flying back. Wish I were there: at the Courtyard by Marriott Beach Resort in San Juan laying in a hammock, sipping piña coladas and having the time of my life!