Best Old San Juan Restaurants in Puerto Rico
There are many ways to explore Old San Juan, and one that takes you to taste the local cuisine is the best. Old San Jun is a historic place and a cultural hotspot of San Juan, and this is also the best place to go through a whole range of culinary experiences. You can explore Old San Juan on foot, explore Spanish forts and their vintage churches and buildings. As you walk the cobblestone paths, lined with colorful buildings, and browse through the art in the galleries, one thing that surely will be foremost in your mind is to sit at a restaurant and sip on coffee and bite into that juicy piece of meat on your table.
Old San Juan is a mix of Afro-Caribbean flavors, robust and spicy. It has still preserved the old traditions of its African heritage and molded it with its very own Spanish flavors. In its cuisine, you find the culture that San Juan was shaped from – Spanish, African, French, American, Latin. Its culinary roots go deep and far, and you have to only visit the restaurants to taste its diverse array of culinary delights, curated by well-known chefs and local cooks.
And the restaurants you find in Old San Juan are some of the best places to get immersed in the culture that you so often see in its monuments. There are family-run establishments in the old streets, hotels in squares, and beachside shacks on the waterfront offering everything from gastronomic delights and local seafood cuisine to international gourmet foods.
So here is a list of some of the top Old San Juan Restaurants in Puerto Rico that are worth visiting:
Every dish in Marmalade will transport you to a culinary journey of signature dishes from the world, and you will also find Puerto Rican flavors in its preparations. Its menu has been curated by the award-winning chef, Peter Schintler, and every dish is prepared with fresh farm produce and locally sourced seafood and meats. Try the signature dish called the White Bean Soup with Truffle & “Bacon Dust” and you will get to taste the smoky flavors. The Heirloom Golden Beets. Their wines and cocktails are concoctions of the best red wines and white wines and mixed with perfumes and spiced ice cubes.
This Michelin-star restaurant offers the best views along with a world-class fine dining experience. From its salads to wines, each dish is made from local produce and its chef, chef Juan Jose Cuevas, is a local of Puerto Rico and makes full use of local flavors of Puerto Rico in infusing its cuisine to make it stand out in terms of presentation, flavors, and aroma. The menu offers you a choice of cheese, along with wines, cocktails, seafood, Italian favorites, salads, desserts. Try the Lobster Salad or the Chayote Salad, which are crispy and lightly spicy. You can have a four-course dinner with wines, and also taste the Chef Tasting Menu.
Its décor is most striking, and its menu derives its flavors from the traditional Puerto Rican culinary traditions, Spanish influences, African flavors, and American creole culture. The food is not that pricey, and you should try the mofongo, which is the immensely famous local Puerto Rican food delicacy. Its steaks, beef, pork chops, ribs, are incredibly flavorful and full of aromas. Come here if you are willing to wait for a table, and this is not one of those exclusive and flashy eating-out places in Puerto Rico.
Named after Don Quixote’s comic sidekick Sancho Panza, this restaurant offers the perfect combination of exquisite décor and tropical dishes. Curated by chef Rafael Alejandro, every dish is a passport into the Spanish culinary delights and you find such world-famous Spanish delicacies as Tacos, Enchiladas, Quesadillas, Burritos, Fajitas, etc. From freshly sourced pork, beef, lamb, tuna, lobster, crabs, and steak to fresh farm tomatoes, spinach, and other veggies, its dishes ooze with a spicy aroma and juicy taste. Try the tuna cutlets or go for its sorbets and they have a special kids menu too.
This casual restaurant is frequented by the hip crowd and is a great place to dine out in Old San Juan. Its décor is soft with pastel-colored hues, and its menu is heavily inspired by French cuisine. You will find such favorites as pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, salads and while you may find a shrimp dish somewhere, you will mainly find vegetarian meals on this menu. Come here for Sunday brunch, and any time of the day, and you will find its dishes adequate for every occasion. There is a rooftop bar, and its cocktails and wines are greatly popular.
In Old San Juan, this is another of those affordable restaurants where you get the best brunch. It is also popular with locals, and you may have to wait for some time before you get a seat here. But the wait won’t disappoint you. There are such star dishes as the Lobster Benedict, which is great to have with Tropic Nut Coffee or a chai. The omelets are filled with the chef’s personal selection of meats of veggies. Their signature coffees, mimosas, sangrias are excellent, and so are the desserts and pancakes.
Set in picturesque environs, Princesa offers tropical delights with liquors like rum, cocktails, wines. The greenery outside and the open-air seating make you relish the food even more. They serve the best seafood marinated in spices and sauces to make them juicy. They offer the freshest local salmon, calamari, squid, Red Snapper, and other varieties of seafood. There are vegetarian options too, and they also have a special menu for the kids. Among locals, this is a favorite place to hang out with their families in the evenings.
For artisanal pizzas, there is no better place in Old San Juan than Pirilo Pizza. Set in a centuries-old building in Old San Juan, Pirilo Pizza is best for pizza lovers who love the extra bit of cheese and meats in their pizzas. No wonder it is one of the best Old San Juan Restaurants in Puerto Rico that you will always find at the top of list.
Trois Cent Onze
This is a small restaurant, but worth visiting when you are in Old San Juan, and they serve great French cuisine. Located in prime Fortaleza Street, this restaurant has a romantic feel to it. Their popular dishes include Honey Roasted Muscovy Duck Breast and Grilled Chicken Breast. Try their wines and some are even from New Zealand, Argentina, California.
Limbers de San Juan
Try San Juan’s very own dessert, Limbers, which is a frozen ice cream local to Puerto Rico. You can stop by a house and slurp the slushie type of cold drink with a feel of popsicle to it. It’s a very authentic way of exploring Old San Juan and kids will love it. Limbers are great for a quick bite into something cold and fruity before you head off to your sightseeing tour of San Juan.
If you want to try fusion cuisine, then come here at Santisimo in Old San Juan. You get fusion food, wood-fired in an oven, and with its very own Puerto Rican flavors infused in its preparation. Mixologists have created some sparkling cocktails and wines. The open-air feel to the place is a treat and so is the food here.
Zippops Gourmet Paletas
Ice cream makes the best dessert, and none the better than ice cream pops with flavors. Zippops Gourmet Paletas offers ice cream pops with so many flavors, kids will hardly be able to resist them. This is a great place after dinnertime and when out on a date thereby making it one of the best Old San Juan Restaurants in Puerto Rico.
Carli’s Fine Bistro & Piano
Set in the art deco building of Old San Juan, Carli’s Fine Bistro & Piano is the place where you can hang out with your friends and family and dine on some delicious comfort food. You can enjoy live music performances like piano music, jazz concerts, classic rock. You can enjoy their favorite dishes like Lobster Ravioli, or Risotto with Pumpkin and Shrimp. They serve tapas, pasta, enchiladas, risotto, fish, and meats.
For breakfast or brunch, head to Spiga in Old San Juan, and you will not crave anything else throughout the day. Their sandwiches are to die for, and they serve the best breakfast in Old San Juan. This is like a small café, and try their cookies and have them with a cup of coffee.
This coffee shop serves an all-day brunch and they have a breakfast menu also. Their brunch menu features the classic brunch menu – French toast with fruits, omelets, croissants, burritos, burgers, eggs over meats, or potatoes. Have mocha with it, or try it with a chai latte. They have beers and rum too, and you can visit this coffee bar before you start your day visiting the famous sights of Old San Juan.
Try the Mediterranean menu at Istanbul Restaurant in Old San Juan for a taste of Turkish kebabs. This restaurant is like a rare treat in the endless Italian, French and Caribbean flavored foods that you get in restaurants in the old walled part of San Juan. There are typical Turkish preparations like kebabs with minced meats, hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki, kofte, and others. It offers a break from the traditional cuisine that San Juan is so popular for.
La Lanterna by Franco Seccarelli
Indulge in the best Italian fine dining in Old San Juan when you visit La Lanterna. Chef Franco Seccarelli has come up with exciting Italian dishes. You will love the cheesy aromas that titillate your taste buds, and there are all the top Italian favorites like pasta, pizza, risotto, etc. Sit by the bar sipping on cocktails and grab a bite on the juicy and delicious Italian dishes.
Il Bacaro Venezia
The funky interiors and Italian food complement each other so well in this restaurant in Old San Juan. You get a generous mix of veg and meats and fish. The pork empanadas are every bit as juicy as they sound, and so are the sausages, pasta, and other Italian dishes. The décor will liven you up and set the mood for the tasty dishes that are to come. Made from fresh cheese, herbs, steaks, bacon, and veggies, every dish will stand out. They have vegan options too.
You get fresh homemade food, with authentic ingredients at Deaverdura. There is essentially a Puerto Rican-type menu, with a strong emphasis on meats and fish dishes. You get fried pork chunks, a traditional Puerto Rican dish called Pasteles, tostones, and many other dishes that you can hardly ever get in other parts of the globe.
Locals love Café Manolin and whenever you want to come, be it to grab a quick bite before you go sightseeing or having your mid-day lunch or dinner, this café will not disappoint you. The menu has Caribbean, Puerto Rican, Spanish, Latin food dishes, and also vegan options. The classic mofongo is a must-have dish. The fish, steak, meats, are also every bit juicy with local herbs and spices. Tostones are also a local favorite of Puerto Rico and the seafood prepared with rice and beans is simply outstanding.
Café El Punto
It is somewhat of a hidden place in Old San Juan, but inside it serves juicy and authentic Puerto Rican dishes. They serve the freshest juices, and their mofongos are a treat for the taste buds. From fish and lobsters to salmon, shrimps and Red Snapper, and steaks and pork, the restaurant offers so many choices in its menu. You get it grilled, in fillings, stews, and more.
Sofia’s Old San Juan is located in Fortaleza Street and you will like this restaurant if you like Italian cuisine. They have all the classics like spaghetti, meatballs, lasagne, pasta. But try unusual items like the Mushroom in wine sauce or the Eggplant Parmigiana. It will only satisfy your stomach but is incredibly good in its smell and flavors. You get meats like the rib eye steak and the chicken Marsala. Plus they have vegan options if you do not want to have low-carb meals.
What’s next waiting for you?
Now you got a whole list of Old San Juan Restaurants in Puerto Rico, you can consider visiting these places any time around the year. If you are looking for the best places to eat in the USA then check out our other travel food guides.