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A chef holds a tray of vegetables over an open wood fire, while a spatchcocked chicken roasts nearby.
Grilling at Leña Eh in the Miramar Food Truck Park.
Leña Eh

The 26 Essential San Juan Restaurants

Sourdough pepperoni pizza steps from La Placita, crab fritters by the beach, Mediterranean dishes that incorporate local PR ingredients, and more of San Juan’s best meals

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Grilling at Leña Eh in the Miramar Food Truck Park.
| Leña Eh

San Juan’s dining scene is a natural blend of tradition and innovation. You’ll find restaurants all over town weaving narratives to connect Puerto Rico’s rich food traditions with modern, inventive twists. Deeply rooted in their commitment to local ingredients, chefs frequent markets, work directly with farmers, and utilize ingredients that infuse the essence of the island into dishes as varied as Neapolitan sourdough pizza or Nikkei sushi. Though great meals are spread across the city’s diverse neighborhoods, the heart of the restaurant and bar scene really pulsates in areas like Santurce, Old San Juan, and Condado. From experimental pop-ups to time-honored fondas serving up classic comida criolla, San Juan has something new (or old) for every diner.

Paulina Salach Antonetti is a culinary tourism entrepreneur, event producer, freelance writer, and investor based in San Juan. She is the co-founder of Spoon and Puerto Rico Restaurant Week.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Caleta Café

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This charming spot in Old San Juan is a cafe by day and bar by night. Spearheaded by chef Martin Louzao, the menu changes constantly, driven by what’s in season. While the food is memorable on its own, every detail has been thought out, from the beautiful amber glassware to the unique tiles made from coffee beans. Located on a charming, tree-lined street adjacent to the Catedral de San Juan Bautista and Hotel el Convento, Caleta Cafe’s dreamy location is the perfect backdrop for sipping on a glass of wine as the evening comes on.

Shelves of amber glassware, including a poron.
Amber glassware at Café Caleta.
Café Caleta

La Factoría

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An Old San Juan stalwart since its opening in 2013, La Factoria has expanded in the years since into an institution, often appearing on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars. It is still a go-to for its lavender-infused take on a Moscow mule; the La Champeta, with Don Q Añejo rum, pineapple, and fermented ginger; and the Garibaldi Criollo, where Campari is infused with acerola, a Caribbean cherry. If wine is desired, Vino, right behind the main bar, provides a selection.

A tall cocktail on a bar, with two pineapple fronds and a pineapple wedge sticking out the top. The cocktail is a milky yellow with a foamy head. The bar is lit by neon.
The Champeta with rum, pineapple, and fermented ginger.
Ricardo M Hernandez

La Taberna Lúpulo

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Beer bar Lúpulo is always blasting the best playlist and serving a wide array of beers on draft as well as in bottles and cans. Focus your drinking efforts on local breweries, such as those from Boxlab in Aguadilla on the island’s west coast or Zurc Brauhaus in Coamo. Everything pairs well with the selection of bar food, including some truly wonderful french fries, wings, and an excellent Cubano.

Someone holds a glass bearing the Puerto Rican flag close to the camera.
Drink up at La Taberna Lúpulo.
Ricardo Perez

Pio Pio Champagne Bar

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Old San Juan’s Plaza de Armas bustles during the day as locals, visitors, and office workers descend on the area’s coffee kiosks. Wine bar Pío Pío offers a casual lunch, but it’s even better at night, when the area tends to quiet down. Here, far from the dives of Cristo and San Sebastían streets, the bar serves a big menu of sparkling wine, paired with seasonal small plates like oysters Rockefeller, beef tartare, and a salad of chrysanthemum greens, silken tofu dressing, hazelnuts, and chayote. There’s even a Negroni piragua, a decidedly adult take on the local street cart treat of shaved ice and flavored syrup.

Verde Mesa

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After a long hiatus, chef Gabriel (Gaby) Hernández finally reopened Verde Mesa in 2023. The restaurant returns to its core mission as a seasonal, vegetable-forward establishment, but the kitchen team has reemerged with renewed creative force. Hernández can be found at farmers markets every week, sourcing ingredients like pomarossa, jobo, star fruit, and breadfruit. The menu, which takes cues from the Mediterranean, features small dishes that are most fun when shared. Save room for the purple cloud: a fruity, creamy, meringue-based dessert.

A fluffy, purple meringue on a glass dish next to a vase of flowers.
Verde Mesa’s purple cloud dessert.
Verde Mesa

Deaverdura

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In Old San Juan, Deaverdura is a staple of comida criolla, the Puerto Rican cuisine that blends local Taíno ingredients with Spanish and African influences. Pasteles, carne frita, tostones, and more create glorious smells wafting from the kitchen into the street, which explains why this corner stop is always drawing a crowd of locals and visitors alike. While the menu is meat-focused, there is seafood and they’re always able to do vegan and vegetarian dishes as well.

Bodega Chic

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This French bistro in Old San Juan is known for its weekend brunch, with mushroom and blue cheese quiche, but the dinner, too, lives up to the hype. Here, the classics are on offer, from duck confit to coq au vin to trout amandine, in a convivial atmosphere that will take you out of the touristic restaurant path just one block away.

A building exterior with classic San Juan Spanish colonial architecture and signage for Bodega Chic restaurant
Outside Bodega Chic
Bodega Chic [Official]

El Vino Crudo

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Natural wine bar El Vino Crudo operates in an expansive space in Old San Juan that maintains all the character of the old city while coming off beautifully minimalist and modern. It operates as both a shop and bar, so take the opportunity to pick up some bottles for the beach, especially since the importers are attuned to the hot weather, providing lots of light reds, rosés, and skin-contact wines. El Vino Crudo is a chill experience in a city where drinking spots tend to get rowdy, making it a respite to enjoy a glass with olives, local cheeses, and other seasonal Italian dishes, such as an herby citrus salad or bucatini carbonara. Check the bar’s Instagram for pop-ups by guest chefs.

Corked wine bottles stick out of a hidden ice bucket along a wall. A bust of Frida Kahlo serving as a planter sits nearby
Bottles chilling at El Vino Crudo
Alicia Kennedy

Celeste

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Seafood bar meets wine bar at Celeste in Puerta de Tierra, an area nestled between Old San Juan and Condado. Chef and proprietor Sebastián Martínez Tully prepares elegant dishes inspired by Puerto Rico’s bounty. The menu changes quarterly but it always starts with a selection of crudos such as squid ink ceviche or aged tuna with Meyer lemon, followed by items like tamarind brown butter anchovy toast or grilled sepia. The carefully curated wines come from small wineries.

From above, a plate of fish covered in chili crisp, greens, and a lime wedge.
Grilled sepia with fried peanuts, spicy chili crisp, crispy recao, and lime.
Celeste

Machete

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This upscale cocktail bar on Calle Cerra hosts an eclectic mix of artists, industry professionals, and anyone looking for a superb cocktail. In an area known for outdoor hangouts with cheap drinks, Machete serves up classic cocktails and creative house drinks made with beets and carrots. The bar food here is top notch, including a perfectly cooked octopus, fried cauliflower, and cochinita pibil and mushroom tacos. Arrive early for a seat or expect to stand for the entirety of the night. There’s an outdoor patio in the back worth checking out.

Rows of bottles on a backlit bar.
The backbar at Machete.
Machete

Chef and owner Carlos Portela’s menu changes almost daily and is driven by the produce, fish, and meat available from his local purveyors. The prix fixe menu could be anywhere from 15 to 24 courses, and the experience can last up to five delectable hours. The wine pairings, chosen and poured by chef Portela himself, are equally impressive. Dining at Orujo is like going to a jazz concert and a symphony rolled into one, with bursts of improvisation and moments of exact precision.

A slice of duck breast presented on a small mound of grits.
Duck breast with white corn grits.
Spoon

Peko Peko

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They don’t take reservations at this narrow Miramar ramen joint, so arrive early — though if you have to wait, it’s well worth it for their house-made noodles, intensely spicy vegan broth, various mazemen preparations, and katsu. The appetizers, such as fried trumpet mushrooms, potato croquettes, and edamame, are filling, so order accordingly. This is an excellent spot for those who don’t eat meat, as there are three vegan ramens to choose from.

A bowl of ramen, with noodles curled to one side in the broth. Toppings include edamame, scallion, onion, tomato, mushrooms, and some sort of crunchy sticks
Ramen
Alicia Kennedy

Leña Eh

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Chef Ruben Guzman’s superb cooking over an open fire makes the Miramar Food Truck Park a must visit destination in San Juan. Signature dishes include the choripán sandwich with chimichurri, roasted chicken thigh, and grilled catch of the day, often spearfished by chef Guzman himself. The grilled eggplant is a superb vegetarian option.

A chef holds a tray of vegetables over an open wood fire, while a spatchcocked chicken roasts nearby.
The open fire at Leña Eh.
Leña Eh

Cocina al Fondo

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After shutting down her Miramar restaurant when the pandemic hit, chef Natalia Vallejo returned with a bigger space at Cocina al Fondo, where she quickly earned a James Beard Award. A charming renovated house with an ample backyard provides a stunning setting for her updated, vegetable- and seafood-forward takes on Puerto Rican cuisine, skipping over well-known staples like mofongo to focus on deeper cuts. Vallejo serves a terrine of beet and goat cheese with toasted bread, pastelillos (or empanadas) filled with pumpkin, ají dulce (a local sweet pepper) fried tempura-style, buñuelos of mashed root vegetables, perfectly cooked catch of a day, a vegetarian pastelón, and much more on the newly expanded menu. Dessert, a cocktail list by Karla Z. Torres, and a thoughtful wine selection aren’t afterthoughts, but complementary to Vallejo’s cooking.

A round mound of pastelon topped with a pile of french fries beside a salad on a decorative plate, with a bottle of wine nearby
Vegetarian pastelón
Alicia Kennedy

1919 Restaurant

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When the occasion calls for a fancy dinner, there is none better than 1919, where chef Juan José Cuevas uses local produce, meat, and seafood to create exquisite tasting menus that can be made vegetarian or vegan upon request. Located inside the luxe Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, the food has far more substance than the big hotel-style environs might suggest, as Cuevas cooked at New York’s legendary Blue Hill before returning home to Puerto Rico to give local ingredients the fine dining treatment.

An empty table in a dining room, with a view beyond into a darkened sky and sea.
Inside 1919 Restaurant.
1919/Facebook

La Santurcina

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Long before the doors open, there is a line outside full of patrons waiting to grab a prized seat at San Juan’s newest pizza spot. Helmed by chef Francis Guzmán of Vianda and his longtime friend from culinary school, chef Stephen Reyna, La Santurcina is exactly the pizza place San Juan needed. The Neapolitan-inspired sourdough pizzas are topped with quality ingredients, and many are vegetable-forward, like the Beetaroni and Zucchini Ricotta. The fried olives and lemon caper wings are great starters.

A closeup on one pizza with drizzles of green sauce, with another red sauce pizza in the background.
Pizzas at La Santurcina.
La Santurcina

Panoteca San Miguel

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Diego San Miguel opened this bakery in Cupey, a San Juan suburb, and in a few months made it a destination where items sell out daily. Options include sourdough breads, a selection of wines, cheese, and other high-end pantry options, as well as some pastries and local sweet breads, such as Mallorcas. Thursday night pizza is a real draw, when the line extends into the parking lot for New York-style pies, often made by local guest chefs.

An oval-shaped pizza cut into wedges, topped with tomato sauce, globs of cheese, and leaves of basil. The pizza is in a cardboard box with one slice missing
Pizza from Panoteca San Miguel
Alicia Kennedy

This beloved food truck finally opened its first permanent location on Calle Hipódromo in Santurce. Steps away from the bars and clubs of La Placita, the modern pizza parlor wouldn’t look out of place in Brooklyn; it’s always bustling with patrons sipping Aperol spritzes and enjoying oven-fired sourdough pizzas. Start light with the boquerones in pepperoncini aioli before making your way to the house favorite: the honey pepperoni pie. Pizzas are served with the perfect char, and you can’t really go wrong with any of the options on the menu (including the superb red sauce number). Doors open at 4 p.m. and you should plan to arrive early if you want to avoid a long wait.

A pepperoni pizza.
Honey pepperoni pie.
Fidela

La Penultima

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This industry hangout came back from the pandemic with a natural wine selection and revamped (but still exceptional) cocktail lineup. The new drink menu features a martini infused with sesame, a daiquiri made with the local agricola rum Ron Pepón, and a spicy hibiscus margarita. Thankfully, the food menu is just as well executed, with bar food you’d expect like wings and burgers, plus veggie lo mein, smoked gouda croquettes, and a barbecue portobello sandwich.

A paper-lined basked of chicken wings, another basked behind it, and a martini on a wood bar with a server standing nearby
Wings and a martini
Alicia Kennedy

Mai Pen Rai

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Chef Kelly Pirro has created a menu with a focus on Southeast Asia, which is a refreshing alternative to the abundant Chinese and Japanese restaurants. Thai curries, banh mi, a healing tom yum soup, and satisfying laab. This is also one of the most vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free-friendly restaurants in San Juan, making it a safe bet when one has a varied party to entertain.

Flat noodles topped with vegetables.
A dish at Mai Pen Rai.
Mai Pen Rai [Official]

Oriundo

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Tucked behind Cocina Abierta (worth a visit on its own), Oriundo is chef Martín Louzao’s newest experimental concept. Louzao, a long-time restaurateur and creative, pays homage to Puerto Rico’s forgotten and underutilized ingredients in a monthly dinner series. Seatings are announced on the restaurant’s Instagram page and sold out within hours. Each dinner includes prix fixe menus for omnivores, pescatarians, and vegetarians, along with thoughtfully selected wine pairings by sommelier Michelle Negrón. A few recent pop-ups paid tribute to pana (breadfruit) and the Caribbean land crab. Top chefs from the Caribbean and Latin America frequently make appearances, showing up with native ingredients of their own. If you can score a reservation, you’re in for a memorable experience.

A plate of calamari in a pool of black sauce with bright white beans.
Reef calamar, white beans, jazmín rice.
Oriundo

When the strictest local lockdown was lifted during the COVID-19 pandemic, chef Francis Guzmán started a pop-up series with many local chefs who were either out of work or running their own restaurants, giving them a chance to put together a prix fixe menu. Since then, the chef has hit an incredible stride, serving dishes both locally and globally inspired. The Raíces Locales appetizer, with beet and other root vegetables (the restaurant’s name refers to them), horseradish cream, and a dusting of fresh dill cannot be missed for its matching of earthiness and brightness. The wine list dips into surprising choices that don’t always abound locally, like a rosé Zweigelt with a dry punch that pairs beautifully with the locally sourced vegetable and seafood-focused menu.

A stylish dining room interior with lots of light, cement flooring, pendant lights over the bar, and a wooden back bar
Inside Vianda
Adnelly Marichal

Sur Barra Nikkei

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After staging with chefs Gastón Ocurio and Rafael Osterling in Peru, chef Rafa Ubior returned to his native Puerto Rico to open Sur, a Nikkei spot in the heart of Santurce. Here, chef Ubior fuses classic Japanese and Peruvian cuisines with locally sourced ingredients and a strong focus on sustainably sourced fish. The raw bar doubles as a cocktail bar where you can sip on a superb Negroni or grape pisco sour, paired alongside red snapper tiradito, ají amarillo ceviche, or octopus tempura rolls.

Pieces of snapper artfully arranged in a pool of deep orange sauce.
Snapper Tiradito.
Sur Barra Nikkei

Café Regina

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Regina evolved from a spot at an outdoor food hall to a tiny outpost on Calle Taft and finally to a full-scale cafe and restaurant. Among the city’s traditional panaderias serving Cubanos and media noches, Café Regina fills a void for light, creative takes on breakfast and lunch dishes, signaling this approach with an airy, bright space. On the rotating menu, check out the avocado toast, which may come adorned with black garlic and pickled radishes, or sandwiches on quality breads stuffed with fun ingredients like artichoke mayo and onion jam. Pair your meal with a cold brew or frothy cappuccino.

An airy cafe with light blond wood and pendant lighting.
Inside the breezy Café Regina.
Café Regina

Tia Dora

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After an inspiring month-long trip to Israel, chef Rául Correa opened Tía Dora alongside longtime friend and sous chef, Juan Lebrón. The duo plate up Mediterranean-inspired dishes that are a pleasant addition to San Juan’s dining scene. Dishes are meant to be shared. Start with any of the spectacular mezze, including labneh with confit tomatoes, followed by lamb kebab, pasta with local mushrooms and coconut ragu, and salmon with chermoula. Located in Ocean Park, Tía Dora is a great post-beach option.

A closeup on hummus topped with half an avocado, chickpeas, and oil.
Hummus at Tía Dora.
Tía Dora

Kiosko El Boricua

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Minutes from the San Juan airport, Piñones is a rustic neighborhood deeply rooted in African tradition. It’s famous for its beachside shacks hawking endless frituras, or fried foods, including the favorite, Kiosko el Boricua. Locals line up for the handmade alcapurrias, a green banana and yautia fritter filled with meat or crab, pastelillos filled with the same, and fried rice with jueyes, or crab. Wash them down with a cold Medalla, the local light pale lager that cuts the fat of the frituras and cools you down in the sun.

A roadside restaurant and outdoor covered seating area with advertisements and Puerto Rican flags flying
Outside Kiosko El Boricua.
Kiosko El Boricua/Facebook

Caleta Café

This charming spot in Old San Juan is a cafe by day and bar by night. Spearheaded by chef Martin Louzao, the menu changes constantly, driven by what’s in season. While the food is memorable on its own, every detail has been thought out, from the beautiful amber glassware to the unique tiles made from coffee beans. Located on a charming, tree-lined street adjacent to the Catedral de San Juan Bautista and Hotel el Convento, Caleta Cafe’s dreamy location is the perfect backdrop for sipping on a glass of wine as the evening comes on.

Shelves of amber glassware, including a poron.
Amber glassware at Café Caleta.
Café Caleta

La Factoría

An Old San Juan stalwart since its opening in 2013, La Factoria has expanded in the years since into an institution, often appearing on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars. It is still a go-to for its lavender-infused take on a Moscow mule; the La Champeta, with Don Q Añejo rum, pineapple, and fermented ginger; and the Garibaldi Criollo, where Campari is infused with acerola, a Caribbean cherry. If wine is desired, Vino, right behind the main bar, provides a selection.

A tall cocktail on a bar, with two pineapple fronds and a pineapple wedge sticking out the top. The cocktail is a milky yellow with a foamy head. The bar is lit by neon.
The Champeta with rum, pineapple, and fermented ginger.
Ricardo M Hernandez

La Taberna Lúpulo

Beer bar Lúpulo is always blasting the best playlist and serving a wide array of beers on draft as well as in bottles and cans. Focus your drinking efforts on local breweries, such as those from Boxlab in Aguadilla on the island’s west coast or Zurc Brauhaus in Coamo. Everything pairs well with the selection of bar food, including some truly wonderful french fries, wings, and an excellent Cubano.

Someone holds a glass bearing the Puerto Rican flag close to the camera.
Drink up at La Taberna Lúpulo.
Ricardo Perez

Pio Pio Champagne Bar

Old San Juan’s Plaza de Armas bustles during the day as locals, visitors, and office workers descend on the area’s coffee kiosks. Wine bar Pío Pío offers a casual lunch, but it’s even better at night, when the area tends to quiet down. Here, far from the dives of Cristo and San Sebastían streets, the bar serves a big menu of sparkling wine, paired with seasonal small plates like oysters Rockefeller, beef tartare, and a salad of chrysanthemum greens, silken tofu dressing, hazelnuts, and chayote. There’s even a Negroni piragua, a decidedly adult take on the local street cart treat of shaved ice and flavored syrup.

Verde Mesa

After a long hiatus, chef Gabriel (Gaby) Hernández finally reopened Verde Mesa in 2023. The restaurant returns to its core mission as a seasonal, vegetable-forward establishment, but the kitchen team has reemerged with renewed creative force. Hernández can be found at farmers markets every week, sourcing ingredients like pomarossa, jobo, star fruit, and breadfruit. The menu, which takes cues from the Mediterranean, features small dishes that are most fun when shared. Save room for the purple cloud: a fruity, creamy, meringue-based dessert.

A fluffy, purple meringue on a glass dish next to a vase of flowers.
Verde Mesa’s purple cloud dessert.
Verde Mesa

Deaverdura

In Old San Juan, Deaverdura is a staple of comida criolla, the Puerto Rican cuisine that blends local Taíno ingredients with Spanish and African influences. Pasteles, carne frita, tostones, and more create glorious smells wafting from the kitchen into the street, which explains why this corner stop is always drawing a crowd of locals and visitors alike. While the menu is meat-focused, there is seafood and they’re always able to do vegan and vegetarian dishes as well.

Bodega Chic

This French bistro in Old San Juan is known for its weekend brunch, with mushroom and blue cheese quiche, but the dinner, too, lives up to the hype. Here, the classics are on offer, from duck confit to coq au vin to trout amandine, in a convivial atmosphere that will take you out of the touristic restaurant path just one block away.

A building exterior with classic San Juan Spanish colonial architecture and signage for Bodega Chic restaurant
Outside Bodega Chic
Bodega Chic [Official]

El Vino Crudo

Natural wine bar El Vino Crudo operates in an expansive space in Old San Juan that maintains all the character of the old city while coming off beautifully minimalist and modern. It operates as both a shop and bar, so take the opportunity to pick up some bottles for the beach, especially since the importers are attuned to the hot weather, providing lots of light reds, rosés, and skin-contact wines. El Vino Crudo is a chill experience in a city where drinking spots tend to get rowdy, making it a respite to enjoy a glass with olives, local cheeses, and other seasonal Italian dishes, such as an herby citrus salad or bucatini carbonara. Check the bar’s Instagram for pop-ups by guest chefs.

Corked wine bottles stick out of a hidden ice bucket along a wall. A bust of Frida Kahlo serving as a planter sits nearby
Bottles chilling at El Vino Crudo
Alicia Kennedy

Celeste

Seafood bar meets wine bar at Celeste in Puerta de Tierra, an area nestled between Old San Juan and Condado. Chef and proprietor Sebastián Martínez Tully prepares elegant dishes inspired by Puerto Rico’s bounty. The menu changes quarterly but it always starts with a selection of crudos such as squid ink ceviche or aged tuna with Meyer lemon, followed by items like tamarind brown butter anchovy toast or grilled sepia. The carefully curated wines come from small wineries.

From above, a plate of fish covered in chili crisp, greens, and a lime wedge.
Grilled sepia with fried peanuts, spicy chili crisp, crispy recao, and lime.
Celeste

Machete

This upscale cocktail bar on Calle Cerra hosts an eclectic mix of artists, industry professionals, and anyone looking for a superb cocktail. In an area known for outdoor hangouts with cheap drinks, Machete serves up classic cocktails and creative house drinks made with beets and carrots. The bar food here is top notch, including a perfectly cooked octopus, fried cauliflower, and cochinita pibil and mushroom tacos. Arrive early for a seat or expect to stand for the entirety of the night. There’s an outdoor patio in the back worth checking out.

Rows of bottles on a backlit bar.
The backbar at Machete.
Machete

Orujo

Chef and owner Carlos Portela’s menu changes almost daily and is driven by the produce, fish, and meat available from his local purveyors. The prix fixe menu could be anywhere from 15 to 24 courses, and the experience can last up to five delectable hours. The wine pairings, chosen and poured by chef Portela himself, are equally impressive. Dining at Orujo is like going to a jazz concert and a symphony rolled into one, with bursts of improvisation and moments of exact precision.

A slice of duck breast presented on a small mound of grits.
Duck breast with white corn grits.
Spoon

Peko Peko

They don’t take reservations at this narrow Miramar ramen joint, so arrive early — though if you have to wait, it’s well worth it for their house-made noodles, intensely spicy vegan broth, various mazemen preparations, and katsu. The appetizers, such as fried trumpet mushrooms, potato croquettes, and edamame, are filling, so order accordingly. This is an excellent spot for those who don’t eat meat, as there are three vegan ramens to choose from.

A bowl of ramen, with noodles curled to one side in the broth. Toppings include edamame, scallion, onion, tomato, mushrooms, and some sort of crunchy sticks
Ramen
Alicia Kennedy

Leña Eh

Chef Ruben Guzman’s superb cooking over an open fire makes the Miramar Food Truck Park a must visit destination in San Juan. Signature dishes include the choripán sandwich with chimichurri, roasted chicken thigh, and grilled catch of the day, often spearfished by chef Guzman himself. The grilled eggplant is a superb vegetarian option.

A chef holds a tray of vegetables over an open wood fire, while a spatchcocked chicken roasts nearby.
The open fire at Leña Eh.
Leña Eh

Cocina al Fondo

After shutting down her Miramar restaurant when the pandemic hit, chef Natalia Vallejo returned with a bigger space at Cocina al Fondo, where she quickly earned a James Beard Award. A charming renovated house with an ample backyard provides a stunning setting for her updated, vegetable- and seafood-forward takes on Puerto Rican cuisine, skipping over well-known staples like mofongo to focus on deeper cuts. Vallejo serves a terrine of beet and goat cheese with toasted bread, pastelillos (or empanadas) filled with pumpkin, ají dulce (a local sweet pepper) fried tempura-style, buñuelos of mashed root vegetables, perfectly cooked catch of a day, a vegetarian pastelón, and much more on the newly expanded menu. Dessert, a cocktail list by Karla Z. Torres, and a thoughtful wine selection aren’t afterthoughts, but complementary to Vallejo’s cooking.

A round mound of pastelon topped with a pile of french fries beside a salad on a decorative plate, with a bottle of wine nearby
Vegetarian pastelón
Alicia Kennedy

1919 Restaurant

When the occasion calls for a fancy dinner, there is none better than 1919, where chef Juan José Cuevas uses local produce, meat, and seafood to create exquisite tasting menus that can be made vegetarian or vegan upon request. Located inside the luxe Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, the food has far more substance than the big hotel-style environs might suggest, as Cuevas cooked at New York’s legendary Blue Hill before returning home to Puerto Rico to give local ingredients the fine dining treatment.

An empty table in a dining room, with a view beyond into a darkened sky and sea.
Inside 1919 Restaurant.
1919/Facebook

Related Maps

La Santurcina

Long before the doors open, there is a line outside full of patrons waiting to grab a prized seat at San Juan’s newest pizza spot. Helmed by chef Francis Guzmán of Vianda and his longtime friend from culinary school, chef Stephen Reyna, La Santurcina is exactly the pizza place San Juan needed. The Neapolitan-inspired sourdough pizzas are topped with quality ingredients, and many are vegetable-forward, like the Beetaroni and Zucchini Ricotta. The fried olives and lemon caper wings are great starters.

A closeup on one pizza with drizzles of green sauce, with another red sauce pizza in the background.
Pizzas at La Santurcina.
La Santurcina

Panoteca San Miguel

Diego San Miguel opened this bakery in Cupey, a San Juan suburb, and in a few months made it a destination where items sell out daily. Options include sourdough breads, a selection of wines, cheese, and other high-end pantry options, as well as some pastries and local sweet breads, such as Mallorcas. Thursday night pizza is a real draw, when the line extends into the parking lot for New York-style pies, often made by local guest chefs.

An oval-shaped pizza cut into wedges, topped with tomato sauce, globs of cheese, and leaves of basil. The pizza is in a cardboard box with one slice missing
Pizza from Panoteca San Miguel
Alicia Kennedy

Fidela

This beloved food truck finally opened its first permanent location on Calle Hipódromo in Santurce. Steps away from the bars and clubs of La Placita, the modern pizza parlor wouldn’t look out of place in Brooklyn; it’s always bustling with patrons sipping Aperol spritzes and enjoying oven-fired sourdough pizzas. Start light with the boquerones in pepperoncini aioli before making your way to the house favorite: the honey pepperoni pie. Pizzas are served with the perfect char, and you can’t really go wrong with any of the options on the menu (including the superb red sauce number). Doors open at 4 p.m. and you should plan to arrive early if you want to avoid a long wait.