In San Juan, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Caribbean, trendy and new restaurants are on nearly every corner.
There’s no denying the appeal of hitting up the trendiest spots in town to get those hearts pumping and taste buds delighted.
Cocina Abierta in Condado is an interactive open kitchen where culinary ideas are inspired and created. Just like the restaurant’s name suggests, the chef opens his kitchen to share best-kept secrets and knowledge inside this unique Atelier kitchen.
The contemporary and eclectic décor is a mélange of concrete walls, modern light fixtures, custom-made furniture, and repurposed decorative pieces; making it one of the most creative multi-layered spaces in Puerto Rico.
The menu is divided into five acts, allowing you to mix, match and create your ultimate tasting menu. Three wine pairing suggestions accompany each dish.
Don’t skip on the cocktails! They are hand-crafted at the Tiki Bar by expert mixologists who use local ingredients and top-shelf liquors from the world-class collection.
VIVO Beach Club is Puerto Rico’s liveliest oceanfront destination featuring an outdoor beach club and pool, restaurants and bars, and a full-scale brewery called Ocean Lab. It serves comfort food in a casual environment with 9 plasmas to watch sports or just relax and taste the diverse offering of local beers. Guests can experience how beer is produced by taking a tour in the microbrewery.
Situated on one of the island’s top ranked beaches and next to the Isla Verde’s hotel district, VIVO Beach Club has the perfect ingredients for a great Caribbean experience. This hip venue has established itself as the best day and night club in the metropolitan area.
VIVO’s AT&T Arena includes a 9,000 square foot stage that can easily cater to over 30 musicians for a large array of performances, as well as a dance floor and multiple staging areas to accommodate over 5,000 people.
La Placita, the last of the traditional fresh food markets in Puerto Rico before the arrival of supermarkets in the 1970s, is still the heart and soul of Santurce’s hottest nightlife scene.
You can still buy fruits, vegetables, flowers, street food, and fruit shakes during the day. But La Placita is now known for its dozens of restaurants with extensive menu selections, cafes, and nightclubs that surround the traditional food market building.
Especially good on Thursday and Friday nights, the historic market plaza and its surrounding streets host what becomes a street party with people of all ages crowding the square to mingle, talk, drink, listen, and dance to music until the wee hours. The vibe is fun and laid back.
Move over old-school steakhouses, Rare 125º Neighborhood Grill in Miramar has arrived with a modern approach, excellent cuts, sides, and sauces. The restaurant is upscale and trendy without the pretensions of white tablecloths, providing top-notch service.
The lunch options are enticing, with bento box–style steak lunches.
Rare 125° refers to the ideal preparation of the perfect steak, and while this is not a house rule overriding your preferences, it is a commitment to providing the ultimate restaurant experience.
House specialty appetizers are the Beef Tataki and Pork Belly Chicharron. The pork belly is a crowd pleaser of crispy comfort served with whipped black refried beans and a cleansing lemon crème. The Tataki consists of a few slices of the house specialty pastrami rubbed steak, a small mound of dulcet mushroom escabeche, ponzu sauce, and thinly sliced cucumber.
Rare 125° opens for lunch every day from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features wraps, burgers, and $15 lunch boxes like the pork tenderloin with vegetable risotto and guava marmalade.
Puerto Rican artisan wholesale bakery Cidrines opened a stylish venue, SOBAO by Los Cidrines, located at the AC Hotel by Marriott in Condado. The name SOBAO originates from Sobao sweet bread, the company’s star product responsible for its success.
Along with the bakery, the venue also includes a restaurant called La Bodeguita, which offers a genuinely spectacular culinary experience.
Upon entering the restaurant, you will see a display of photos and tasteful memorabilia honoring the life of Doña Lidia Miranda and her family, the Cidrines.
The menu at La Bodeguita has a good selection of wines and fresh fish, meat, chicken and pasta and its famous Cocas (similar to pizzas), burgers and tapas. Sobao by Los Cidrines has live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening.
El Mercado de Paseo Caribe is a modern, upscale food market inside a luxurious waterfront residential complex that brings together a mix of local gourmet restaurants, butcher shops, and other gourmet food boutiques under one roof.
The market has a vibrant feel with its restaurant kitchens and food vendors complimented by the vast, colorful mural created by renowned artist Tom Christopher.
Eateries like Café Alto Grande, Napolitana pizzeria, and the Noodle Merchant rub elbows with well-known local favorites like La Hacienda Meat Market from Miramar, Señor Paleta from Old San Juan, and El Pescador from Santurce, just to name a few.
Along with the impressive array of food options, El Mercado de Paseo Caribe also hosts live entertainment.
Princesa Gastrobar, nestled in a beautiful garden patio surrounded by lush vegetation and trees next to the old La Princesa jail which today houses the offices of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., sits at the edge of the famous city wall that historically encompassed all of Old City.
The restaurant’s menu features some unique recipes found in an 1800’s Puerto Rican cookbook that blends Spanish and Puerto Rican dishes. These recipes are marked on the menu by a local tree frog called the Coqui.
Its specialty is Spanish croquettes, heavenly bites made with chicken and Iberian ham and served over béchamel sauce. Princesa Gastrobar also offers a variety of refreshing rum cocktails and educates its visitors about the history of the Rums of Puerto Rico.
This exclusive venue will make its visitors feel the magic of the story behind its unique location.
Casa Cortes ChocoBar is a restaurant and art gallery in Old San Juan operated by the Cortes family, the biggest chocolate-makers in the entire Caribbean.
They opened this popular and unique venue, voted Best Restaurant in the Caribbean by the readers of USA Today, to share tasty meals and drinks that incorporate the family’s greatest treasure — wickedly delicious chocolate.
The chocolate drinks are out of this world. Get them hot or cold, or with marshmallows. The menu includes specialty drinks like a Choco Martini or Bloody Choco Mary. There are breakfast items, appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, and pastries where chocolate infuses every bite.
On Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday a gallery upstairs offers a glimpse of the family’s private contemporary Caribbean art collection.
Looking for a stiff drink? Then La Casita de Rones in Old San Juan is the right place. This pink-colored lovely venue (once the home of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company Information Center) has two bars, a restaurant, and shop developed by the local government to promote the Rums of Puerto Rico program.
This charming venue in the touristic area of the Old City next to the cruise ship terminals and with views of the San Juan Bay sells and promotes brands like Bacardi, Serralles, Club Caribe, Barrilito, Caray and Trigo and artisanal products by Destileria Cruz, and El Pitorro de Destileria Coqui.
A variety of mouthwatering rum-based signature concoctions, handcrafted and pressed sangrias, and tropical classics, like the famous piña colada, are masterly crafted here to compliment a varied selection of Puerto Rican appetizers, salads, sharing dishes, and entrees.
So check them out. You might just spot some celebrities while you’re there!