15 Tastiest Restaurants in Old San Juan

The Old San Juan area in Puerto Rico is incomparably charming with its bright and colorful architecture, cobblestone streets, and historic sites showcasing the island’s 500 years of history. We can even bet this historic neighborhood has already made your top things areas to visit in San Juan. It’s the ideal spot to head to for a bite to eat after spending the day at one of San Juan’s beautiful beaches.

But what makes Old San Juan special is the spin on comida criolla (Creole food) local and talented chefs bring to your plate.

About Puerto Rican Food

Puerto Rican food originated from the indigenous Taínos, Spanish conquistadors, and Africans. The Taínos’s main food sources blended fruit, coconuts, and root vegetables, such as ñame and yautía, while the Spanish integrated simple ingredients like olive oil and rice. The Africans brought their cooking deep-frying food practices, plantains, malanga, and maybe even coffee (historians may still be debating this).

Between the infusion of these three cultures and our chefs incorporating ingredients from Asia and the Middle East, you are in for some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean when you visit Old San Juan.

We want to make sure you don’t miss any of the Puerto Rican cuisine flavors during your visit, so we took a deep dive into some of the tastiest Old San Juan restaurants for you to try. Whether you’re searching for Caribbean street food, farm-to-table, or a fine dining experience, we are here to deliver in our guide to the best eats in Old San Juan!

Best Breakfast or Brunch

La Tortuga Bistro Bar

Photo Credit: N i c o l a via Flickr CC2.0

This little bistro sits between the corner of San Sebastian and San Jose streets in Old San Juan. It is the perfect location for a simple brunch or lunch near El Morro Fort. It almost seems out of place as it serves as a place to eat among some of the best late-night bars in the area. As for the food, you will find a range of sandwiches made with delicious baguettes, pasta, and pizzas served with local Medalla beer.

Waffe-era

Photo Credit: recipelion
  • Address: 100 Calle del Marina Unit 304/305, Old San Juan
  • Price Point: $
  • Website: waffle-era.com

Perfect location for breakfast and lunch options, including fruit smoothie bowls, oatmeals, sandwiches, and as the name states, waffles! The waffles come in a range of flavors, from savory to sweet, providing you with some unique options for all types of palates. Breakfast options include green egg and ham waffles (made with goat cheese and pesto sauce) to smoked salmon. On the sweet side, you can try the creme brulee waffle or the cream cheese with pecans, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Sweet or savory, whatever you decide, it won’t disappoint.

Chocobar Cortés

Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Fourth-generation and family-owned, Chocolate Cortés is a farm-to-table (or better yet, farm-to-bar) chocolate company. Its location in Old San Juan has some nice coffee and cocktail menus and delicious and chocolatey brunch options to eat. You can combine the classic serrano ham croquette with a coffee with dark chocolate on the side. If you would like to order like a local, here are a few options:

  • Black coffee: Café Prieto (/p-r-ee-EH-t-oh/)
  • Coffee with no milk or sugar: Café Puya (/puʝa/)
  • Coffee with milk: Café con leche
  • Small espresso: Pocillo (/poh-see-yoh/)

Caficultura

Photo Credit: Jorge Gonzalez via Flickr CC2.0

If you love coffee and beautiful presentations, Caficultura is a spot on San Francisco Street that will serve you good coffee with beautiful latte art designs and Instagram-worthy dishes. The menu includes a variety of breakfast and brunch options. They also have options for the little ones for the family travelers, including mini pancakes, mini French toast with strawberry marmalade, and Ghirardelli hot chocolate.

Café Manolín

Photo Credit: josquin2000 via Flickr CC2.0

Serving delicious Creole food for over 70 years, Café Manolín is an Old San Juan restaurant on San Justo Street. This cafe offers a family ambiance with fair prices, so you will find many professionals, locals, and tourists enjoying meals in this location.

The breakfast and lunch menu includes typical Puerto Rican foods, including egg sandwiches, scrambled eggs with toast, coffee, chicken fillet, chicken empanadas, and fish fillets. Don’t forget to order one of their desserts; we recommend Tres Leches or cheesecake.

Best Lunch and Dinners

Pricesa Cocina y Cultura

Photo Credit: Princesa – Cocina Cultura
  • Address: Paseo La Princesa, Old San Juan
  • Price Point: $$$
  • Website: princesapr.com

The Old San Juan restaurant, Princesa Cocina y Cultura, is one of the first gastro bars in the area specializing in Puerto Rican rum. What also makes this restaurant even more unique is the fact that you will be surrounded by trees and shades with views of the Paseo La Princesa and its historic walls.

The menu also originated from six Puerto Rican cookbooks published between 1859 and 1950, so you can experience some of the rich and classic flavors of Puerto Rican dishes from that time. It doesn’t hurt that the local ingredients are farm-to-table as they are sourced from Finca La Zafra and local farmers.

Walk-ins are accepted, but if you wish to eat dinner here, we recommend you make reservations.

Marmalade Restaurant and Wine Bar

Photo Credit: Marmalade Restaurant & Wine Bar
  • Address: 317 Calle de la Fortaleza, Old San Juan
  • Price Point: $$$$
  • Website: marmaladepr.com

Marmalade is one of those Old San Juan restaurants that offer tasting menus that include five courses with a wine pairing done by acclaimed chef Peter Schintler. The menu is wine-driven, and the dishes are full of seasonal ingredients to ensure freshness.

We recommend you try the chef’s favorite dish, the thumbprint soup, a white bean soup with crispy pancetta ham and truffles. Simple yet divine.

Barrachina

Photo Credit: Jenni Konrad via Flickr CC2.0
  • Address: 104 Calle de la Fortaleza, San Juan
  • Price Point: $$
  • Website: barrachina.com

Birthplace and home of the piña colada, you will find Barrachina on La Fortaleza Street. This Old San Juan restaurant has been serving visitors for over 40 years and specializes in Spanish cuisine with a Puerto Rican twist thanks to its ambiance and Latin American music. The menu includes main dishes featuring seafood, grilled meats, and Paellas.

Cafe El Punto

Photo Credit: Jorge Castro Ruso via Flickr CC2.0
  • Address: 105 Calle de la Fortaleza, San Juan
  • Price Point: $$$
  • Website: cafeelpunto.com

If you love fresh fruit mojitos and smoothies, you will love Cafe El Punto, serving up the quintessential Puerto Rican restaurant experience. The menu includes classic Puerto Rican dishes like mofongo, ceviche, and lobster tails, while the smoothies provide a refreshing break from the heat.

We recommend you try the Papachineo smoothie, featuring papaya, banana, and orange. If you prefer something with a little hit, then the mango or the strawberry mojitos are a must-try. For family travelers, you will be happy to see a friendly-kid menu with options the little ones will eat.

311 Trois Cent Onze

Photo Credit: beef bourguignon via Flickr CC2.0

Trois Cent Onze is an Old San Juan restaurant specializing in French cuisine. You will find some French classics like escargot, Coq au Vin, and beef bourguignon, as well as vegetarian options like lentil soup and risotto. The location, ambiance, and menu make it a great location for a date night.

The Cave: Cuban Cuisine and Cocktails

Photo Credit: Receitasparatodososdias via Flickr CC2.0
  • Address: 200 ESQ, C. de San Francisco, San Juan
  • Price Point: $$
  • Website: The Cave

You will find The Cave on the corner between de la Cruz and San Francisco Street. This Old San Juan restaurant and cocktail bar has Cuban-inspired dishes and a pretty affordable tapas menu that includes fried chickpeas, ham croquettes, cheese boards, and caprese salad.

For the main course, we recommend eating La Vieja dish (Old Lady dish); you won’t find a more flavor-packed dish than this one. At its core, it has shredded beef and vegetables with a multitude of spices served with white rice and beans.

El Jibarito

Photo Credit: Krista via Fickr CC2.0

El Jibarito (hee-bar-ee-to) is a native word meaning a person from the mountain and is often used as a term of endearment for little kids. It is also the name of a sandwich, where the bread is replaced with fried plantain.

In this case, this Old San Juan restaurant offers a true Creole food menu filled with classics served in everyday households around the island. Some deep-fried appetizers include beef and chicken turnovers and fried corn sticks, while the main dishes include shrimp in garlic and fried pork chops served with rice and beans on the side. You won’t get more typical Puerto Rican food than at this location.

Bodega Chic

Bodega Chic is a bistro-style restaurant in Old San Juan that combines a mix of French and Puerto Rican cuisine. It is absolutely delicious with an Instagram-worthy food presentation. Where else would you be able to get duck breast with grapefruit and ginger sauce? Or a Halibut in red pepper sauce? You really won’t know the options until you visit and check out their menu of the day.

Antojitos del Callejon

Photo Credit: Antojitos del Callejon

Budget-friendly with ocean views, Antojitos del Callejon has an outdoor patio and some of the best deep-fried food that you eat as a snack or meal, depending on the quantity. This place is fast-paced, with great people, great music, great dancing, and great staff.

Deaverdura

Photo Credit: Deaverdura

Our last recommendation is the Old San Juan restaurant called Deaverdura. It is an easygoing and colorful location on the corner of Sol and de la Cruz Streets. There is no formal menu, but the location offers typical Puerto Rican finger food.

We recommend the tasting platter if you don’t know where to start or what to try. It will have more than enough food for two adults, and you will get to try their best finger foods.

Must-Try Puerto Rican Dishes

Photo Credit: merri via Flickr CC2.0

One of the main reasons why Puerto Rican cuisine is delicious is due to its unique and homemade seasoning called sofrito. It is a vegetable puree made with onions, cilantro leaves, garlic, green peppers, and cilantro.

We use it for cooking and flavoring almost every main and side dish, including chicken, beef, and beans (habichuelas guisadas). Another classic is the mayoketchup (combined mayonnaise and ketchup with a little garlic, which we promise is good), which we use as a dipping sauce for some of our deep-fried foods.

Here are some dishes we recommend you try during your visit:

  • Mofongo
  • Rice and beans
  • Churrasco
  • Chicken or beef stew (Pollo or carne guisada)
  • Bistec encebollado (beefsteak)
  • Pernil Asado
  • Fried plantains like amarillos and tostones (try the tostones with mayoketchup!)
  • Anything and everything deep-fried, like yuca, sorrullitos, alcapurrias, and empanadillas (we promise, it is worth it and super budget-friendly!)
  • Piña Colada (originated from San Juan!)

Get Ready to Devour Puerto Rican Flavor

After filling up and enjoying flavorful Puerto Rican meals and drinks, rest up in one of our unique vacation rentals in Condado or Santurce, conveniently located near the best of Old San Juan eating scene.

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