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Bulleit Local Bar

The Best 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

EL NUEVO ACUARIO

$$Seafood, Caribbean, Steakhouse

You know those restaurants that you go to that just leave you with a natural high from all the love, amazing food, great energy and phenomenal service? If you don’t, then you need to go here! My wife and I came back in March 2021 for the first time and it was amazing. They were understaffed due to COVID, but their spirit and work ethic was applaudable. And this second time, they had more help, which I’m so grateful for them to have gotten because it was only 4 of them back in March and they were KILLING it!! (I run two restaurants in Virginia/ Maryland and the staffing shortage has been the WORST so I empathize with their situation)

Leo (The owner), Jack (At the bar/ Owners son) and a server named Olga really catapulted our experience into the 3rd dimension this time. While waiting for our seats, Leo came up and greeted us and assured us we’d be seated shortly. Once we told him we were returning customers, he thanked us for coming back and bought my wife, brother in law, and I a round of drinks while we waited. The down to earth service, authentic and FRESH and FLAVORFUL food mixed with the energy and love from them just made this experience the best I’ve ever had in any restaurant EVER! Ruth’s Chris, Fogo, etc. ain’t got nothing on this place. We had multiple great conversations and they weren’t rushed convos, like I’m used to having with managers/owners in restaurants back in the states. G E N U I N E. And to top it all off, Leo sent me a list of all his go to things to do in PR. Every time I come to PR, this place is a MUST, no matter where we stay I’ll drive across the damn Island just to come here.

Oh and which food to get? ANYTHING! but here’s what we got on both visits:
-Lobster empanadas
-Rabbit empanadas (Don’t knock it til you try it)
-Churrasco Steak with mofongo (bi) with Seafood Medley added (This is a dish made for a KING/QUEEN)
-Seafood sampler (Firecracker Grouper was my favorite if I had to pick just one)
-Cilantro/Garlic Chicken with Mofongo
-Tostones (Of course)
-Shrimp Mofongo
Oh and that Tamarind sauce can go on ANYTHING

You guys are awesome man I can’t wait to come back to see y’all! If I could give 100 stars on this spot I would. Keep killing the game y’all!

— Review by Donnie O.

Puerto Rico

LAS VISTAS CAFE

$$Breakfast & Brunch

You MUST eat here. I found this on Yelp before we left for PR as one of the places we wanted to eat breakfast. We are a big breakfast family and a lot of times in PR breakfast consists of fresh bread from a bakery. While good, it’s not our usual pancake, eggs, meat, etc.  We finally made it to the area to eat here the day before we were flying home. We didn’t have a reservation (recommended due to Covid restrictions to guarantee a seat), but they luckily had room for us.
When I tell you this was amazing in every way, I mean it. You were treated like family from the time you stepped in until the time you left!  The staff has a genuine interest in getting to know you and make you feel welcome, wherever you’re from.
The view is amazing!  The food is even more amazing!  
We immediately made a reservation to have breakfast there the next day, unfortunately the last day on the island. We tried literally almost everything on the menu and it was all so fresh and delicious. I can’t say enough about this place!  Our only regret is we didn’t go sooner in our trip so we could eat there every day.
When we left, we said we don’t know when we’ll be back but we WILL be back!  Please support this amazing local business!

— Review by Hope A.

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Puerto Rico

DEGREE 18 JUICE BAR

$Vegetarian, Juice Bars & Smoothies, Breakfast & Brunch

Loved  it here so much that we came back 3 days in a row! Had the berry açaí bowl (my absolute favorite) a couple of times, and also tried the green smoothie bowl with spinach and ginger (very spicy and a lot going on in terms of flavor). Be aware that the bowls are extremely huge, so great to fill you up for a long morning of healthy feels. I love the way they put granola at the bottom of the bowls, as when you are finished with all the toppings, there’s a surprise to soak up the smoothie goodness.

— Review by Caroline A.

Puerto Rico

EMPANADA LADY

$Spanish

11:50AM: I found the infamous Empanada Lady!!!! We’re on the beach right by the Marriott and had been looking for her for the past two days. She was well worth the wait! The empanadas are delicious and a great deal at 2 for $5 (chicken or beef). They are very flavorful and crispy! She’s also so so sweet! If you’re lucky, you’ll find her and get to try her great homemade empanadas.

— Review by Tiffany H.

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Puerto Rico

SPIGA

$Cafes, Breakfast & Brunch, Italian

If you care about the food you put into your body, this is the place for YOU!

I am from Miami visiting San Juan, and was looking for a place to have breakfast. I found Spiga based on the reviews and let me tell you … that was the best choice I could have made.  I try to eat clean as much as I can, and I am very conscious about what I put in my body.
Everything is hand made here, the delicious sourdough bread, the fig jam. They even have almond/oat milk and stevia.  

Katia, the owner is super attentive.  The entire staff is so nice. The place has a special vibe, and because it is in a hidden spot, it is easy to miss.

I rarely post reviews, but I felt compelled to post a review for this place.  Like to support small businesses, particularly those who truly care about their customers.

So, give yourself the opportunity to explore this hidden gem. You won’t be disappointed.

With love, Yaima

— Review by Yaima A.

Puerto Rico

EKELEKUA

$$ • Breakfast & Brunch, Tapas Bars, Wine Bars

Damn. This place is GOOD.

I had the vanilla iced latte. Delicious.

The Monte Cristo is to die for. 100000% recommend it. It’s the perfect combo of sweet and savory. I asked for my Guyaba syrup on the side but I dipped my sandwich in it every bite.

Also had the Greek yogurt bowl. Delish. Perfect if you want something light.

My  table also ordered the chicken & waffles and arepa Benedict and didn’t leave a bite!

— Review by Jennifer D.

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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

BISTRO DEL MAR

$$ • Food TrucksCaribbean, Sea Food

THE STUFFED PINEAPPLE WITH CHICKEN IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I HAVE EVER TASTED IN MY LIFE.

This place is legit Puerto Rican culture at its finest.  Delicious authentic foods being served at beach front location with genuine, kind workers serving you and going out of their way to make your meal and your entire stay as best as possible.  Will be back for every dinner while we are in area.

— Review by Katherine G.

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Puerto Rico

DULCE AROMA

$ • Breakfast & Brunch, Cafeteria

What is there not to love about Dulce Aroma?! We stopped here on our way to Cabo Rojo from Fajardo and it was the perfect way to start the day! Their prices are amazing, food is DELICIOUS, service is prompt and friendly, and it definitely feels like a local spot (which I love when I’m traveling).

— Review by Kelsi H.

Puerto Rico

LLUVIA DELI BAR

$$ • Coffee & TeaBreakfast & Brunch, Delis

Highly recommend this place. They take Covid very seriously. You can’t just walk in, you need to ring the door bell and a server will greet you at the door to seat you or to place a to go order. This place is also very clean and the staffs are very friendly.
Bummed to find this place on our last day but also happy to have found it too.
The food was delicious. We got the breakfast burrito, the breakfast plate with guava pancakes (soo good) and 3 croissants (sausage, bacon and ham). Everything was delicious!

— Review by I’m Talking B.

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