advertisement
  • Best Classic Dining: Out in Miramar, Augusto's Cuisine, in the Marriott Courtyard San Juan Miramar Hotel, Av. Ponce de León 801 (tel. 787/725-7700), combines impeccable service and an elegant dining room while delivering one of the best French and international cuisines in the Caribbean, backed up by an extensive wine list.

  • Best Steakhouse: In the swanky Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel, BLT Steak, De los Gobernadores 6961 (tel. 787/253-1700), serves the most delicious steaks in Puerto Rico. French chef Laurent Tourondel reinvents the American steakhouse with the classic cooking techniques of his homeland, serving up aged beef, other meat, and fresh seafood. Sauces, sides, and desserts are all heavenly remakes of your father's favorite food, and it still tastes good today.

  • Best Food Value: Bebo's Café, Calle Loiza 1600 (tel. 787/726-1008), has good comida criolla, plus steaks, sandwiches, and fruit frappes at incredibly low prices. That's why it draws crowds despite its rather slow, if well intentioned, service. It's open all the time, nearly.

  • Best Italian Restaurant: Across the street from Hotel El Covento, Il Perugino, Cristo St. 105 (tel. 787/722-5481), takes you on a culinary tour of sunny Italy. Plate after plate of delectable northern Italian food is presented nightly -- everything from grilled filets of fresh fish to succulent pastas. Service is first-rate, and the welcome warm.

  • Best French Restaurant: Housed in a beautifully renovated building across the street from the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Bistro de Paris, Plaza de Diego, Av. De Diego 310 (tel. 787/998-8929), takes elements of a classic Parisian bistro and kicks up the comfort level several notches. This is classic French cuisine with innovative flourishes, prepared and served with love and precision by talented chefs and a near perfect waitstaff.

  • Best for a Romantic Dinner: Perla Restaurant, at Hotel La Concha, Av. Ashford 1077 (tel. 787/721-7500 ext. 6800), is a luminous, seashell-shaped restaurant, a delicate world of hand-blown glass lanterns and exotic furnishings -- the perfect canvas for seafood and dancing. The flavors also largely come from the sea, which themselves are a force of nature.

  • Best Nuevo Latino Cuisine: Parrot Club, Calle Fortaleza 363 (tel. 787/725-7370), wows taste buds with its modern interpretation of Puerto Rican specialties. Even San Juan's mayor and the governor have made it their favorite. Borrowing from a repertoire of Puerto Rican and Spanish recipes, husband-and-wife team Emilio Figueroa and Gigi Zafero incorporate Taíno and African influences in their cuisine. The seared tuna is the best in town, and their Creole-style flank steak is worth the trek from Condado Beach.

  • Best Burgers: El Hamburger, Puerta de Tierra, Av. Muñoz Rivera 402 (tel. 787/721-4269) is a smoky wooden shack with a great view of the crashing Atlantic and the juiciest, tastiest burgers in town. No frills, full flavor, golden fries, rings, and freezing cold beers and soft drinks. Palm trees outside and classic salsa on the jukebox, this is the real local burger joint, packed from noon to midnight.

  • Best Asopao: Soul food to Puerto Ricans, asopao is the regional gumbo, made in as many different ways as there are chefs on the island. Most versions are too thick to be called soup; stew is more fitting. Try the seafood variety at La Mallorquina, Calle San Justo 207 (tel. 787/722-3261), a delicious mix of shellfish and red snapper, in a delicious rice and tomato stew.

  • Best Spanish Cuisine: There are authentic Spanish tapas at El Picoteo, at Hotel El Convento, Calle Cristo 100 (tel. 787/723-9202), which spills along beautiful terraces and the interior courtyard of Old San Juan's most stunning historic property. The locale boasts a choice of 80 kinds of tapas (the 35 we've tried did not disappoint, and we intend to work our way through the rest) set against a background of Spanish colonial facades and blooming tropical flowers. There's often live music, including flamenco dancing.

  • Best Local Cuisine: Devoted to comida criolla, Ajili Mójili, Av. Ashford 1006 (tel. 787/725-9195), features food that islanders might have enjoyed in their mamas' kitchens. Try such specialties as mofongos (green plantains stuffed with veal, chicken, shrimp, or pork) or the most classic arroz con pollo (juicy chicken baked right in the middle of the pot of saffron rice).

  • Best Late-Night Dining: With an after-hours menu that's available until dawn, Tantra, Calle Fortaleza 356 in Old San Juan (tel. 787/977-8141), is the place to go when midnight munchies strike. This is where your waitress and bartender go when they get off of work. Try some tandoori chicken kebabs, coconut sesame shrimp in a mango peach salsa, or fried calamari in tomato masala sauce. Although the kitchen officially closes at 2am, it stays open until the crowd stops asking for more. It's a good place to find out what's going on around town as well.

  • Best Family Meals: In the Inter-Continental San Juan Resort & Casino, Av. Isla Verde 5961 (tel. 787/791-6100), Ciao Mediterranean Café offers an excellent and reasonably priced menu. Many tables are placed on a private boardwalk adjacent to the beach. Pizza and pasta are favorite dishes, and you can also choose from a large selection of other Mediterranean fare.

  • Best Nuevo Latino: The Parrot Club, Calle Fortaleza 363 (tel. 787/725-7370), blazed the frontier of the '90s' push to bring local fare to new creative and flavorful heights, and they are still on top of the game 15 years later. Cutting edge nuevo cocina, fun and tropical interiors, and warm and efficient service are still the biggest triple threat in town.

  • Best Aphrodisiac Cuisine: Take someone special to Ostra Cosa, Calle del Cristo 154 (tel. 787/722-2672), for a night of romance. Even if you aren't in the mood, the owner promises that you will be after consuming his dishes, which are "chock-full of aphrodisiacs." It's the romantic setting in a Spanish colonial courtyard that is sure to do the trick though.

  • Best Ice Cream: On a cobble-covered street in Old San Juan, Ben & Jerry's, Calle del Cristo 61 (tel. 787/977-6882), is a block from the landmark cathedral, Catedral de San Juan, across from the entrance to Hotel El Convento. This outpost of the American chain is owned by the family of gymnast Michelle Campi and is a local favorite.

  • Best Drinks: We get thirsty just thinking about the San Juan Water & Beach Club, Tartek St. 2 (tel. 787/728-3666), the ultrachic Isla Verde boutique hotel, where water gushes through the translucent walls of the lobby and elevator, which you take to Wet. You can have sushi under the stars at this rooftop bar, and any drink you want. Grab a seat at the long bar or one of the comfortable lounge seats.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.