Puerto Rico is known for its exotic flavors and love of pork. It’s evident in every restaurant and street vendor cart that they take their dining experiences very seriously. Most notable dishes are the classic Mofongo (fried plantains mashed with salt, garlic, and oil in a wooden pilón topped with either seafood or meat) and of course, pork cooked in every way possible. We’ve wrapped up a list of our favorite restaurants in Puerto Rico that absolutely have to be on your radar when you visit. Keep in mind that much of Puerto Rico is not fully restored after Hurricane Maria so many of these restaurants look like a hole in the wall from the outside, but are quite beautiful on the inside. Don’t judge a book by its cover!
Located on Ashford Avenue, the main strip of restaurants in Condado Beach, Di Zucchero is a casual Italian restaurant with a small outdoor seating area. Inside, however, it’s two floors and despite being “casual,” guests are met with large glass chandeliers and draping vines decorating the walls. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, guests can choose from a variety of pizza, pasta, or even fan-favorite breakfast dishes.
Semilla almost feels like an upscale sports bar. It has an entire wall dedicated to its top-shelf liquor and a large TV screen. Aside from the cool ambiance, literally, everything on the menu is delicious. The berry and spinach salad is zesty with a strawberry vinaigrette, the ropa vieja quesadilla is just the right amount of cheesy, the dumplings are a wonderful American-Asian fusion, and the drinks are perfectly balanced.
A real gem in Old San Juan, Vaca Brava blends traditional Puerto Rican cuisine with ingredients from local farmers. Boasting killer presentation and a victory on the infamous show “Man Vs. Food” where Adam Richman couldn’t finish his dish on time. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s deep-fried, and it’s so so good! Try the classic mofongo or the oversized KanKan pork chop hung over a pile of fries.
One of the few fine dining restaurants on the Island, Santaella is an elegant combination of classic Puerto Rican dishes with a French twist. On the menu is the softest pork belly you’ve ever tried and a delicious escargot appetizer. Their watermelon margarita is a house special and a definite must-try!
Located on the main floor of the Olive Boutique Hotel in Condado Beach, Sage is an intimate steak house with dim lighting and a romantic vibe. Whisper softly to your dinner date over a bottle of red wine and a shared 24oz fresh cut piece of meat. Chef Mario Pagán will have your mouth watering.