Food & Drink

Where To Eat And Drink In San Juan, Puerto Rico Right Now

Visiting Puerto Rico as an American always feels like some sort of insane travel hack: you’ve arrived in an idyllic island paradise and you didn’t even need to pack a passport. And it’s not just the warm, inviting culture, the world-class beaches and cerulean surf that make this place such an incredible destination. It’s also home to some of the Caribbean’s most exciting food and drink. The San Juan scene, specifically, holds an embarrassment of riches when it comes to bars, restaurants, hip hotels—all the cornerstones of proper hospitality. Which is why you should be, too. Here’s how to do it up right.

Hop on the Piña Colada Trail

San Juan has quite the connection with cocktail and spirit. Just outside the city you’ll find the Bacardi distillery—the largest rum producer on the planet. And not far from there is Ron del Barrilito, a local favorite that’s been handcrafted in neighboring Bayamón since 1880. Together they’re a good reason why this place is considered the “Rum Capital of The World.”

San Juan itself is the birthplace of perhaps the most well-known beachside sipper of all time: the Piña Colada. According to local lore, the drink was first crafted at the Caribe Hilton in 1954 when bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero combined the native spirit with coconut cream and pineapple juice. Towering above the mouth of Laguna del Condado, you can still stay at the hotel today and sip on the prototypical example of the sweet refresher.

But there are, of course, many other places to sample it these days. The verdant courtyard of Barrachina in Viejo San Juan is as classic a setting as any. And when you’re done drinking there, the swanky eatery will also let you take one to go. Although for the best “street version” of the drink, you’ll want to head to El Corner in Condado Beach for a potent rendition that costs less than $10.

Explore Condado Beach

And speaking of Condado Beach, this narrow spit of land separating lagoon from ocean is a hip epicenter for high-end lodging, dining and entertainment. The most elegant place to stay is undoubtedly the Condado Vanderbilt — a historic hundred-year-old luxury property that recently underwent a full refurbishment. Inside it’s opulent lobby you’ll find 1919, a contemporary dining den where chef Juan José Cuevas Soto is reimagining Puerto Rican flavors with an Italian and French accent. The “Prestige” wine pairing is among the most impressive food and drink prix fixe offerings on the island—four bespoke courses with selections from the property’s outsized wine cellar for $250 a person.

For something a little more low-key, make your way to the Condado Ocean Club a modern, adults-only getaway that flexes some lively fusion fare at its beachside eatery, Social. Highlights include crusted ahi tuna under Szechuan sauce, bacalao croquettes and Chilean seabass served with porcini risotto.

If you’re craving more of a Vegas vibe, La Concha Resort is an ideal option. The nightlife destination holds a casino, alongside several notable food and drink venues in a chic surf-side setting.

Sip And Savor You’re Way Through Viejo San Juan

Back over in Viejo San Juan you could spend a full week trying to eat and drink your way through these 500-year-old streets and wouldn’t even make a dent. Nonetheless, there are some obligatory stops. In addition to the aforementioned Barrachina, you’ll want to grab drinks at La Factoría a craft cocktail mainstay that has appeared on the annual list of World’s 50 Best Bars. La Cubanita offers a very similar vibe but often without the same waitlist. The Steinway Piano Bar at Cannon Club is a live jazz venue straight out of the French Quarter. For the hopheads, La Taberna Lúpulo is a lively beer bar boasting 50 selections on tap and 150 more in the bottle. Check out some of the fresh offerings from local favorite, Ocean Lab Brewing Co.

Feeing a little hungry? Check out the traditional gastronomy being plated at Princesa Cocina Cultura. Or for some comida criolla you’ll want a taste of Deaverdura. The menu here, brandished on a chalkboard mounted to the wall, has all the local favorites: tostones de pana, pastelillos de carne, mofongo.

For a more upscale setting, Marmalade is a perrennial favorite with tourists and locals alike. Vegetable-focused appetizers like golden beets and tomatoes, sourced from the island, set the stage for worldly arrangements of surf and turf on the entrée list. A sensational 5-course wine pairing can be yours here for under $200, out the door. Just save some room for nightcaps. Because few places can do late-night libations quite like Old San Juan

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