I originally wanted to call this a San Juan “travel guide”, but the truth is that the majority of time I’m in Puerto Rico nowadays, I’m hanging out on the beach or by the pool. ….which is great, but I think you need more than that to make up a travel guide. So, I decided to instead guide you on where to eat in San Juan should you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods.
…which you totally should. Miguel and I always talk about how when people think about beach vacations they tend to think about Florida or North Carolina or the Bahamas, but somehow Puerto Rico gets missed. WHY? I don’t know why, but it deserves all the love and attention. I’ve been there five times now (!!!) and every year I go I love it even more.
First things first, there are two “main” areas of San Juan, one being Old San Juan and the other being Condado. This list is going to showcase restaurants in both areas, just FYI. Also consider this whole post to be a bit of a photo diary–I figured the more photos the better?
BaJuice – Condado
This is a healthy breakfast and lunch spot with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. Its menu features egg dishes, fresh pressed juice, smoothies, and acai bowls galore. I’ve eaten there numerous times and I’ve yet to be disappointed.
Must-get: The Monkey Bowl, an acai bowl topped with granola, banana, and tons of peanut butter
Pinky’s – Condado
Ahhh I LOVE this place so, so much, I think I’ve eaten there at least 10 times (is that excessive?). The sad news is that after the hurricane, it changed locations, so we didn’t make it there this time around, but every other time I’ve visited San Juan it was my go-to breakfast (side note: it’s only 2 miles up the road, so definitely not far, just not close enough to walk to every morning). It’s quite small, meaning there aren’t a ton of tables, so it’s better to get there early if possible.
Must-get: eggs, iced coffee and fresh pressed juice. Seriously. All the egg dishes are phenomenal as are the juices.
Verde Mesa – Old San Juan
This place had rave reviews on Google, so we decided to give it a shot, and boy am I glad we did. The menu isn’t huge, but many of their ingredients are locally-sourced and everything we had was so fresh. Oh and drinks? Yep, they have those too. Miguel had an old fashioned made with fresh-pressed guava juice and he said it was the best he’s ever had.
Must-get: if you eat meat, you gotta try the Moroccan Lamb Stew: the lamb is so tender it falls right off the bone AND it’s incredibly flavorful. We also ordered the swordfish ceviche and tomatoes with pesto and both were excellent.
Oceano – Condado
We didn’t make it here this year, but we’ve been twice before and both times were fantastic. This restaurant specializes in seafood, is right on the ocean and quite fancy.
Must-get: this isn’t very specific, but ALL of their appetizers are fantastic, and we also loved the ceviche (…as we tend to do…).
Serafina – Condado
I didn’t realize it right away, but it turns out Serafina is actually a chain restaurants, so maybe you’ve been to one before?! Regardless, we love this place. If you’re craving pizza or pasta, this is the place. It also has an adorable outdoor seating area with lots of greenery, which I love.
Must-get: pizza! I love their white pizza, but I recently ordered one with tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms and prosciutto and it was excellent.
Santaella – Condado
Miguel and I actually ate here for lunch, but it would be an awesome dinner place, especially because their cocktail list is insane! There’s a really large window covering an entire wall filled with plants, the chandeliers were pretty cool if that’s something you care about and, most importantly, everything we ordered was phenomenal.
Must-get: the bacon-filled croquettes and/or the Japanese-style steamed buns with shrimp and/or the warm brussels sprouts salad
Tacos and Tequila – Condado
We also ate here for lunch the first day I arrived, but again, it would be a great dinner place. It’s inside a hotel and it overlooks the ocean with one of the walls being nonexistent, meaning you can feel the ocean breeze while you’re eating. Miguel ordered wings but I decided to give the tacos a try and they were great. I ordered the shrimp tacos, which come with a cilantro aioli that was to die for!
Must-get: I assume all the tacos are delicious, but I’m going to recommend the shrimp tacos because that’s what I actually tried (so good!)
Gallo Negro – Condado
Just look at this menu! UGH, I’m so mad at Miguel for getting sick and preventing us from going here. It’s pretty close to Jungle Bird (listed below) so our plan was to hit up this place for dinner before heading over the bar for drinks. From what I read, it’s many people’s favorite restaurant in San Juan (whoa…) and both the food and drink menu are incredibly creative. If/when we go back, this is the place we’re going to on our first night.
Señor Paleta – Old San Juan
I had to create a separate category for this, though this is the only place on my “dessert” list. It’s a homemade popsicle place and it’s amazing. There are plenty of flavors, including piña colada, strawberry cheesecake, pistachio, dulce de leche, and so many more. If you need a quick and tasty way to cool down, give this place a try.
Must-get: I imagine all the flavors are delicious, so I’m going to say to go with your gut on this one (though I got the strawberry cheesecake and loved it).
La Factoria – Old San Juan
If there’s one bar you should visit while in San Juan, make it this one. Despite what it looks like when you first walk in, this bar is actually FOUR bars! You walk in the front door and it looks like a regular bar with string lights and an awesome drink menu, but if you walk to the back there’s a doorway that leads to an entirely new bar, and then a door within that bar and then a door within that bar. They have salsa dancing on the weekends and it’s just genuinely a cool place (oh and did I mention the great drinks?).
Must-get: I’m a little biased, but their grapefruit mezcal cocktail was incredible, as was their regular margarita.
Jungle Bird – Condado
Though we had every intention of going here on our last night, we didn’t make it due to Miguel getting a cold. HOWEVER, I’ve heard great things about it and it looks very similar to one of my favorite Pittsburgh bars called Hidden Harbor (link). Jungle Bird looks to feature tropical cocktails served in fun glassware and the decor is on brand.
Solera – Condado
This is actually the bar inside of the hotel where we stay—La Concha—so I’m a little biased, but they really do have fantastic drinks AND food.
Must-get: the Coqui! It’s basically a piña colada and it’s my absolute favorite. Other favorite is the Passion Rita. As for food? Chips and guac, hands down.
Though this has nothing to do with eating, I did want to mention La Concha Resort—our hotel—real quick. It’s a Marriott hotel and both Miguel and I love it so much. It’s right on the beach, the rooms are nice and it features 4 swimming pools, two of them overlooking the ocean. La Concha is in the Condado area, but Old San Juan is just a 10 minute Uber ride away.
All and all, San Juan was and always has been an awesome place to visit. I hope this guide gave you some food ideas for if/when you find yourself there. I’ve fallen in love with it time and time again, and I know you will too. Questions? Leave ’em in the comments!