Puerto Rico is an island full of culture and along with that culture came delicious dishes and drinks. Sure the beaches and beauty of the island drew me in immediately, but what made me really fall in love with Puerto Rico were the people and the food. So where should you drink and dine in Puerto Rico?
I have almost too many restaurant recommendations for the island, and that proves just how satisfying their food and drink culture really is. Diana and I did not have a bad meal during our trip, and if anything, we ran out of time to try all of the places that we really wanted to. But, these were our favorite spots to drink and dine in Puerto Rico, and I think I’d head back to the island again, specifically just to eat at these spots again.
Walking into Casita Miramar is like stepping back in time into the home of a local and being invited to stay for dinner. Diana and I were lucky enough to sit outside on the veranda over looking the neighborhood. To start, we were served bacalaítos, which are cod fritters, along with soup. Then, we indulged in sangria, mofongo, and short ribs, and left the restaurant, happy and full. Not only do the waitstaff give individual and personalized attention, bringing over a chalkboard with the night’s options, but the food has a certain comfort to it, adding to the feeling of being in someone’s home.
From the outside decor of purple and pink, I immediately took a liking to Casa Lola, and the inside decor didn’t disappoint. Once the home of Lola Milagros Cedeño, its kitchen is now under the expertise of Chef Roberto Treviño. Set in the perfect location, with views of both the lagoon and ocean, the restaurant brings a touch of glamour to the normal island dining experience. Spoiled by Chef Treviño, I got to sample many of the restaurant’s dishes, and each one that was brought out was better than the rest. I feel confident recommending all dishes on the menu, but I definitely had a few favorites that months later, I still dream about. The red sangria had a hint of cinnamon and was not only the best sangria I had on the island, but the best I’ve ever had. Long after my stomach was full, I continued to eat the Lola rice and had to splurge on dessert because the bread pudding balls were too good to pass up. These dishes wound up being my favorite of the trip.
Diana and I had planned on dining at Budatai long before we settled in on the island, but after realizing that it was the same chef as Casa Lola, we made it a priority. Asian flavors are always a favorite of mine when dining out and cooking on my own, and Budatai matched up well with my expectations. Another masterpiece by Chef Roberto Treviño, Budatai adds Asian flair to traditional Puerto Rican flavors, and he does it so well. Not only are the food and drinks excellent, but so is the location. It sits on the main street in Condado, overlooking the ocean, which makes it ideal for watching life go by. The food and drink selection is plentiful, and each dish combines unique flavors. The sushi and noodles were by far my favorites, but again, I feel confident recommending anything on the menu.
After our Spoon Food Tour, Diana and I didn’t think we’d be hungry for dinner, but our guide, Paulina, suggested Verde Mesa for a light meal if we changed our mind. After walking around, we decided to check it out. We walked right passed its unassuming entrance, not realizing the restaurant was behind the doors, but as soon as we walked inside, we fell in love with the atmosphere. Every detail was taken care of, from mason jar lighting fixtures to homemade hand scrub in the bathroom. There were great options to choose from, especially for vegetarians, and the dishes were light and fresh. We had the hummus to start, and Diana had a salad, while I went for the ceviche. I also had one of their homemade juices with rum, and it complimented my meal perfectly. I would have loved to have tried their other dishes, but it just gives us an excuse to one day go back.
On one of our last nights in town, Diana and I decided to head to La Placita, Santure’s Farmer’s Market, an area that is full of life and music. We wandered around on a rainy night, but that didn’t seem to slow anyone down, as the music and laughter continued to drown out the sound of the down-pouring rains, it reminded me of Bella Vista in Santiago, Chile. Even though, we had reservations at Jose Enrique, we decided to grab a cocktail and empanadas at Santaella. It turned out to be the best decision, as the atmosphere was lively and the food and drinks were excellent. In fact, the two of us didn’t really want to leave, and after dining at Jose Enrique, we both wished we had stayed at Santaella.
This spot is a bit difficult to find with no outside sign, but it’s worth looking for. It’s a modest space with couches and small tables, but there is also a secret wine bar in the back. After a day of walking around Old San Juan, Diana and I were too tired to check out the wine bar, though we did make our own space at the main bar for a drink. There were only a few craft cocktails on the list, but the bartender asked us what we liked and made us each something different. Apparently, La Factoria is a hot spot at night, as it’s open late, so Diana and I would love to head back one day and experience it at night and visit the wine bar as well.
The Mezzanine at St. Germain
After wandering around Castillo San Felipe del Morro, we were hot and looking for a place to cool off with a drink. We made our way to The Mezzanine for happy hour, and the specials and drinks were great. There were also huge windows that opened up to give a view of the city and the space was perfect to relax and soak up the beauty of Old San Juan. We were able to cool off and find a quiet spot to rest and make our plans for the rest of our day.
These are just a few of my favorite places to experience the food and drink scene in Puerto Rico, but there were many more that we didn’t get the chance to experience. It just means that we’ll have to head back to Puerto Rico soon, something neither of us would mind.
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I was a guest of Casa Lola and Budatai, but that in no way affected my dining experience. As always, all opinions are my own.