Top 5 Restaurants near San Juan, Puerto Rico

One of the best ways to learn about Puerto Rican culture when visiting San Juan perhaps is through the cuisine. Not only is it informative, it’s a delicious approach to learning. Puerto Rican cuisine is an amalgamation of several other cooking styles adopted from the Spanish, African, and Taino people. This makes it both similar to other Latin cuisines and unique because of its use of indigenous seasonings and ingredients.

These San Juan restaurants are conveniently located within 10 to 15 from our property in Carolina, Puerto Rico. If you want something rich, heavy, and greasy, the island is full of it. If light and fresh is more your jam, you can find that, too. And whether you’re craving meat, seafood, fresh produce or delicious food while in San Juan, these restaurants are just a short stroll away.

  1. Jose Enrique

Enjoy cuisine from a James Beard award semi-finalist, Jose Enrique is a casual San Juan restaurant located in the neighborhood of Santurce. Between the bright-green exterior and the reasonably priced, ever-changing menu of traditional Puerto Rican favorites, it’s one for the highlight reels.

“Original, delectable food! A memorable evening in "One of the world's top 100 restaurants" says Travel & Leisure magazine! Jose Enrique is everywhere in Puerto Rico and Vieques. This restaurant is reasonably priced and has excellent service. They now TAKE reservations!” @Kathyindenver Date of visit: October 2019

“So pleased we came here Ok. This is live reporting. This is our first time here and we have ordered Morcilla (blood sausage), suckling pig and veal cheeks, which are both daily items. The morcilla is the best we have ever had. Flavour was umami with the perfect amount of garlic and it had a wonderful texture. Also it was not greasy/fatty at all. The veal cheek - my my my. Perfectly braised with small mushrooms on a bed of polenta / steamed spinach/ veal sauce. The suckling pig - perfectly cooked, and tender with crisp skin. It was served with rice and beans and a kale salad. All food was excellent. Great kitchen and great service.” @MRichardson2014 Date of visit: December 2019

Chef José Enrique offered up his restaurant as the initial base of operations for the disaster-relief work his friend José Andrés’s organization, World Central Kitchen, did in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and on top of that, his food is really something special. 

  1. Lote 23

This San Juan restaurant opened in late 2016. Lote 23 is equal parts food park and community center. It has kiosks and Airstream trailers that feed locals and tourists alike; and it’s a destination for yoga, music, and dancing too. If you’re coming to eat, you can fill up on hearty plates of pernil or fried chicken, go light with a poke bowl, snack on an order of croquettes, perk up with an iced Puerto Rican cold-brew coffee, and fill in the remaining cracks with a handmade popsicle from Señor Paleta.

“Eclectic and Enjoyable We visited Lote 23 based on reviews and we were not disappointed. This lot was turned into a permanent food truck park, and the selections were wide and excellent. Everyone is super friendly, and the picnic benches were plentiful and appropriate for the setting. Definitely worth checking out!” @ Ragoozie Date of visit: November 2019

“EXCELLENT! A San Juan must with a great atmosphere, delicious drinks, and more! Lote 23 is an excellent food truck park located in the heart of historic Santurce. There are nearly a dozen different food options to choose from (that number is growing too), but my personal favorites are El Jangiri (Poke Bowls) and Hen House (Fried chicken!). The location is very safe, and tourists have no reason for concern any time Lote 23 is open. On weekends, you'll often find live entertainment and both locals and tourists socializing with a cocktail and enjoying the lively atmosphere.” @ dxvxdxxx Date of visit: October 2019

  1. Verde Mesa

In the heart of Old San Juan, this small restaurant features pressed-tin ceilings, eye-catching mason-jar light fixtures, a hodgepodge of vintage furniture, friendly service, and superb Mediterranean-Caribbean fusion cuisine.

Vegetarian-friendly dishes are a rarity on the island, but here they’re more than just an afterthought. Make sure you try a refreshing ceviche-style chayote salad spiked with mango, lime, and cilantro; or a hearty pumpkin and barley porridge with kale, pecorino, and roasted eggplant. On the meatier side, the Moroccan-spiced lamb stew is their most popular dish, but the real winner is the octopus appetizer, a pile of perfectly charred tentacles showered with pea shoots and served on a bed of smoky piquillo-pepper puree.

Great things come in small spaces!This gem of a restaurant was a real find. It wasn't on any of the recommendation lists from friends, but we found it in an article about where chefs eat when they dine out. Now we know why. The food was simply wonderful.” @ CatMarTan Date of visit: November 2019 

Outstanding flavors. As soon as you enter this restaurant, the eclectic decorations amaze you. Feels cozy, warm and family like atmosphere. The staff makes you feel welcome. Detailed and professional service makes this restaurant stand above any other. Menu is simple and easy to understand. Important: DID NOT SEE SPANISH TRANSLATION OF MENU. Yellowfin tuna with butternut squash puree, preserve mushrooms, zucchini and almond sauce is heaven on a plate. We recommend purple cloud dessert. Prices are around $17 to $32 for entrée, drinks vary from $10 to $25 and they have good options for vegans. Magical and beautiful place to share with friends.” @ JosueVazquez Date of visit: December 2019

  1. La Bombonera

This classic Old San Juan bakery (circa-1902) and café teases passersby with a tempting window display of assorted pastries. You must try the Mallorca, which is a sweet roll layered with your choice of fillings, pressed until the edges are warm and crisp, and dusted with a heap of powdered sugar. You can have it with simple fillings like butter or chocolate, but the savory-sweet combination and chose the egg, ham, and Swiss is something you CANNOT miss!

“Excellent Mallorcas. Sandwiches and soups Old family business and everything tasted like my mamma made it Staff very cordial and efficient We had a bit of a wait and were given a complimentary pitcher of Sangria which was delicious and appreciated La Bombonera was well worth the wait and we can’t wait to go back!” @mbartocci Date of visit: November 2019

Mallorca Heaven! Fantastic local restaurant in the heart of Old San Juan - we visited several mornings for breakfast - the freshly squeezed juice, the local coffee, and the mallorcas are, hands down, the best you will find in OSJ. The inside of the restaurant is diner-like and very charming - we enjoyed sitting at the bar each morning and speaking to the staff about the history of the restaurant. Can't wait to return!” @nplarsh Date of visit: September 2019

  1. Santaella

Santaella creates an elegant evolution of the flavors that showcase the vibrant energy of the island's. Chef Santaella has transformed this historic San Juan building into an architecturally acclaimed space. The menu highlights the traditions of the island, sourcing ingredients from a farmer’s market only feet away. The Chef focuses his menu mostly on tapas, which you can easily make into a meal. Favorites include the ahi tuna skewers, goat cheese quesadilla, alcapurrias topped with crab, and foie gras terrine with fruit jelly.

“Top Notch Happening Restaurant! Santaella is a happening place with a real vibe. Our best meal in San Juan. Excellent food; excellent service by Hyman. Terrific baby octopus and chorizo stew special; real nice Asian buns with shrimp and sriracha; excellent Cuban Angus skirt steak, perfectly cooked medium rare with rice and black beans. Delicious! Reasonable wine list; really tasty salt caramel pudding dessert. Highly recommend!” @Conseiller99 Date of visit: November 2019

“Exceeded all expectations This restaurant was amazing. My husband and I took our two daughters here and all four of us loved every dish! In particular the filet mignon, the fish tacos were great and the watermelon/rum drink was out of this world not to mention the bread pudding and the chocolate mousse! Perfect meal with perfect, thoughtful, attentive service!!” @jenny L Date of visit: August 2019

So, what are you waiting for? Book your next trip to Puerto Rico to experience their amazing cuisine!