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The Best 5-Star Restaurants In Puerto Rico, 2021

Ten exemplary places to grab a well-deserved bite.

By The Smoking Chair Editors  |  Sep 27, 2021

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Thanks to its inventive and visionary chefs, myriad cultural influences, and an incredible natural bounty, the food in Puerto Rico is as exciting and diverse as the island itself. In fact, there’s so much good food here that anyone who settles for mediocre resort fare instead of sampling the island’s incredible culinary offerings should not be allowed on to an airplane to leave until they do. Whether you’re after homestyle comida criolla, fresh-off-the-boat seafood, something elegant paired with a beautiful French wine or boundary-pushing gastronomy, there’s a restaurant in Puerto Rico to suit your taste, mood, or price point. Here are a few of our favorites.

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Puerto Rico

MARMALADE

$$$$ • Caribbean, French, Wine Bars

This restaurant is definitely a culinary experience that is not to be missed in San Juan.
A thoughtful degustation menu that can be personalised and completed with an exquisite pairing wine selection. A true explosion of flavours with each course. Our experience was made even richer thanks to Paul Anthony, our server, who took his time to impar his knowledge and enthusiasm when describing the changes of flavours in each course by each wine. Highly recommend

— Review by Carlos C.

Puerto Rico

EL PESCADOR

$$$Seafood, Steakhouses

We stayed in Fajardo and walked down here for dinner one night stopped because the plates looked amazing.

I ordered the whole fish (fried) as recommended by the waitress. The Caribbean salad it came with was delicious and the fish itself was perfectly cooked, not dry and was crispy on the outside and moist and flaky on the inside.

I ordered a side of rice and beans because I mean Puerto Rican rice and beans how can you pass them up and arepas those things are just plain addicting so I had to get a side of them as well!

Piña Colada to drink since that’s the island’s signature cocktail.

Service here was perfect! Our waitress, I didn’t write down her name but she was a doll! She answered all our questions, she gave great suggestions of the menu and was super attentive. Zero complaints!

The food was amazing!!

My friend ordered the churrasco and I of course had a bite and the steak was mouth watering delish!!!

If you are in the area, this place is a must stop!

— Review by Kristen M.

Puerto Rico

311 TROIS CENT ONZE

$$$French, Wine Bars

I came here with my boyfriend for my birthday. Reservations are highly recommended!!! The service was good although it seemed everyone waited on us which is fine. The restaurant is small and quaint with classy music. The selection of wines is perfect because they offer a vast variety.

We ordered the Assiette Campagnarde which came with pepperoni sized salami slices, prosciutto, Brie, pickled kalamata olives, bread, a garnish of mustard and another soft cheese that I’m not sure what it was but it reminded me of the Boursin garlic and herb spreadable cheese.

I ordered the shrimp risotto which tasted great but the saffron flavor comes on strong so if you don’t like saffron then don’t get this dish. My boyfriend ordered the duck which was delicious. It was cooked similar to a steak and the flavor was also similar. I usually don’t like duck but when I tried his dish I was very impressed with how delicious it was cooked.

Definitely check this hidden gem out if you’re in OSJ area.

Parking is in the red garage (doña fela) which is cheap and about 3 blocks away to walk. You can risk parking on the street however you’ll likely get a ticket since most street parking is for OSJ residents that have a special sticker.  

— Review by Taylor F.

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Puerto Rico

LA CUCINA DI IVO

$$$Italian

This place is the best restaurant we visited while being in PR . Make sure you make a reservation , otherwise you will not be able to try this place , specially with the covid situation . If you are lucky to get a reservation , you are in for an amazing experience; we were taken care off by Iría and wow – she is exceptional is very aspect. She had no pen and paper, because guess what she doesn’t need it . She knows the restaurant like the back of her hand – knows all the ingredients and has all the right recommendations. Absolutely perfection in service , food , vibe , etc .  Everything we  tasted was spectacular – the steak melted in your mouth , the seafood was fresh , delicious in every aspect . I honestly wish I could give this place 10 stars . An absolute must when you are in San Juan PR.

— Review by David G.

Puerto Rico

COCINA ABIERTA

$$$$Puerto Rican, Bars

By far the best restaurant I’ve been to in PR. Ate here on my second trip to PR in two years. Asked a few locals what’s the best spot for dining. More than one person recommended this spot. I went for the carnivore part of the tasting menu, and it was GREAT! By far one of the best beef wellington dishes I’ve had.

— Review by Raymond B.

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Puerto Rico

SANTAELLA

$$$Bars, Caribbean, Latin American

Amazing food – hands down balance of perfect execution with awesomeness of creative dishes.

I’ve eaten a lot around the island and my wife and her mother (born and raised) have equally treated me to great PR food over the years. I’ve been to the kiosks, the mountains, the local places in ponce, and everything in between. So Santaella is the upscale culmination of all of that. It’s pricey but you are paying for the perfect execution – some cases of the well known and some cases reinvention.

So who pays 34 dollars for beef stew with maspote? Well it was damn good and by far the best I’ve had. Usually the Dominicans rule with flavor around the Caribbean but this was off the charts. Yea it’s just beef stew with rice and beans. But it was amazing and with a great Pinot they have by the glass well worth it for a special meal.

I started with the blood sausage which I’ve had many times In PR and surprisingly always when I’m in Dublin Ireland where they have the same for breakfast. This was b6 far the best I’ve ever had – crispy and not too funky like it can be. It sat on perfect potatoes with a few sauces that were just enough by not overpowering. My son had the escargot which appeared classic French and Cooke perfectly. Not sure where they sourced them but they were great.  My wife is a bit too into accapolios- I’m not a big fan myself. These were sorta reinvented as flat platters for crab and it all worked amazingly.

For my main I had the fried red snapper which is a classic and ubiquitous dish down here. It’s usually kinda dry but they found a way to stuff it with a salsa or maybe a fresh sofrito or something. I’ve had this dish a thousand times but never this good. Only small nit of the night was the pile of perfectly made tostones that sat dry in the plate. Man if I just had a little of that orange island sauce or something to dip those in that would have hit the spot.

My son was still hungry so we got him some basic 12 dollar white rice and red beans. Now my mother in law I thought was queen of the basic PR staple. But these had the clear edge – just so much flavor and the pork and potatoes or pumpkin in the beans was over the top. Yes I know I can get good rice and beans anywhere on the island for like 4 dollars. But these really were so so good.

Service and ambiance are what you’d expect for a 100 a head meal – maybe a little chaotic but ill chalk that up to near post COVID. All in all this place is in my top ten globally now.

— Review by David R.

Puerto Rico

CHOLO’S BISTRO

$$$ • Puerto Rican

Novio and I are still in Puerto Rico visiting family and he had been wanting to take me to this quaint little place right behind his family home in Río Piedras. He and Momager have been going there since its opening so she gets special treatment, free dessert included.

Unfortunately Momager was out of town for business and we went on a special date. We went on a Wednesday around 7pm. NOTE: the place is BYOB (bring your own beer) they serve absoluteli NO ALCOHOL, but you are allowed to bring as much as you want and they keep it cold for you and serve it whenever you desire.

The place appears small and parking is limited, but is is minimalistic, clean, and classy (the place not the parking). We ordered pimientos stuffed with manchego cheese and chorizo as an appetizer and it was absolutely divine it took me all the way to Barcelona! Note: that was the special of the day and I don’t know if its a set menu item, I’ll have to ask Novio about that.

Now for the entrees; novio being a vivacious carnivore ordered beef short ribs and I ordered half an avocado stuffed with king crab with a side salad and an arañita on the side (arañitas are a food item most common in latin america where shredded plantain bits are put together and fried, they are crunchy bites of pure joy). My entree was in the appetizer option but it was big enough to be a meal on its own. We ordered a side of mampostiao’ rice but by that time we were so full we took the whole thing to go.

And finally… DESSERT! I love dessert and unfortunately novio has advanced hypoglycemia and can’t partake (its unfortunate for him, i truly don’t mind at all). We ordered the barriguitas de abuela ( grandma bellies) which are similar to donut holes except stuffed with dulce de leche (condensed milk candy) with berries on the side. It was sooooo good and I ate all six of them as Novio watched in horror.

Everything was delicious and the service was excellent. If you don’t drink the entire bottle of wine they cork it back up and bag it for you to take home. It’s a must visit place for latin food with s twist when in Puerto Rico.

— Review by Ariadna M.

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Puerto Rico

PASIÓN POR EL FOGÓN

$$$ • Spanish, Puerto Rican

Hands down one of the best restaurants in Puerto Rico. Every time I visit we come here and the food and drink always is superb.

Overall – Easily 5/5

Food – 5/5 I had the snapper in creole sauce which I asked for the chef to add some heat to. Had the perfect amount of kick and smothered a perfectly cooked filet of red snapper that was the freshest fish I had while in PR. My favorite side at Pasion is the mofongo de amarillo (sweet plantain) which nicely complemented the fish. We also started with the empanadas and fried calamari both of which had nice crispy exteriors and flavorful insides.

Drink – 5/5 Wine list is priced better than most upscale restaurants in the area and we loved the blend we got which was part chardonnay and part a lighter varietal that had a nice amount of body without being overpowering for fish.

Service – 4.5/5 Overall service in PR can be hit or miss, but at Pasion it’s 100% a hit. Top-notch service, from wine service to taking our order. Only docked .5 because took a little while to grab somebody’s attention for the check.

Ambience – 4.5/5 Nice stylish interior. All the restaurant needs is an outdoor patio or deck to take in the beautiful views from Fajardo!

— Review by Julian U.

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Puerto Rico

FOGO DE CHÃO BRAZILIAN STEAKHOUSE

$$$ • Steakhouses, Brazilian

This was one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had. My boyfriend and I came here for our anniversary. We really enjoyed the sides and the choices of meat we got to try. The lamb chops and the top roast were amazing. I would also recommend the seafood tower. The lobster tail in combination the sweet passion fruit sauce was a perfect match. We literally were so full.

The service is what really stood out to us. The servers were so nice and attentive to our needs. Juan was the Maitre’d and really made us feel like VIPs.  He was excellent.  I will definitely be returning when I go back to PR.

— Review by Jazmine A.

Puerto Rico

ENTREVINOS

$$$ • Wine Bars, American (Traditional)

The spot we originally wanted to go to for brunch was packed and there was a waiting list and we were on a time crunch . We stumbled upon this restaurant and if I could give it 10 stars I would.

The place itself is really clean and they take Covid very seriously. We were a party of 5 and ordered various things off the menu. The food came out hot , fresh and fast. Everything on the menu was simply amazing not one thing was bad . I wish that we had more time to enjoy our food but we were in a rush because we had reservations for a water sport across the street at the beach.

Do yourself a favor and visit this place for brunch you will have No regrets’

— Review by Miranda B.

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