Authentic Dining Options in San Juan, PR

Old Mar 29, 17, 1:46 pm
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Authentic Dining Options in San Juan, PR

I'm going to be in San Juan (first time) for just a few days, traveling solo. Staying in the Condado Beach area. When I travel, I like to sample authentic local cuisine, and love street food. I don't mind if it's touristy or popular, just that I'm not getting a tourist version of the food. I also try to avoid tourist prices, but sometimes it can't be helped.

I've done a little research, but I'm guessing much of what I'm looking for is going to be hard to find on the internet.

I plan to spend most of my time on the beach or in Old San Juan. Are there food trucks or food stalls in those areas? Any recommendations on great casual restaurants nearby where I can get authentic versions of mofongo or any of the various rice with seafood/pork/etc. dishes? Hole-in-the-wall recommendations welcome!
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Old Mar 29, 17, 4:37 pm
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I stayed in Condado last May with my family (college age kids). There's a permanent food truck, Kabanas that was quite good and conveniently located. We ate there our last night after over-indulging the previous 4 nights (Oceano, Cocina Arbieto, Yantar, Marmalade). It's BYOB, but it seemed we were the only ones BYOBing. In Old San Juan we had lunch at an interesting little place, Verde Mesa that I'd go back to. First real trip to San Juan and we all really enjoyed wandering the streets of the old city. We spent a lot more time at the forts than we planned. If you are there on Sunday check out the kite flying at El Morro.

While you are traveling solo and asking about local food, if you are looking for something very upscale one evening I highly recommend Marmalade. We went there for my son's birthday, did the chef's tasting with wine parings and I would say it was the finest meal and service I've had in at least 5 years.

We had a few taxi drivers who were very good sources of information. They seemed to take pride in their island and would offer up suggestions. There's a square in Old San Juan near San Cristóbal where they park -- may not be a bad idea to ask some of them.

Last edited by donnde; Mar 29, 17 at 4:52 pm
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Old Mar 29, 17, 7:28 pm
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Thank you for all the information! I'll check into the places you mentioned. And thanks for the other tips, I plan on spending some time at the forts as well.

Please keep the suggestions coming. Looking for dives with great food! I should add that when traveling solo, I often enjoy sitting at a bar to eat, or even standing or sitting outside (for example, the wurst stands in Germany and Austria) for lunch.
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Old Mar 30, 17, 6:51 am
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
Thank you for all the information! I'll check into the places you mentioned. And thanks for the other tips, I plan on spending some time at the forts as well.

Please keep the suggestions coming. Looking for dives with great food! I should add that when traveling solo, I often enjoy sitting at a bar to eat, or even standing or sitting outside (for example, the wurst stands in Germany and Austria) for lunch.
Since you are ORD, have you gone to Humble Park in the city and tried the food trucks there? I was born and raised in PR, and live in IL. The area you are staying is highly touristy and pricey. I like The Place, in Condado, mostly for the burgers and craft beer selection. One thing that we do a lot in PR is have breakfast and buy coffee at the local bakery, Kasalta will be a good option, but is not within walking distance. Old San Juan area will offer some sample of local food, jsut try to saty away form the port area as the restaurants there are expensive and not that great. If you have a car, I suggest going to Luquillo, where there is a lot of street food, mostly fried food, alcapurrias, empanadas, pinchos. The beach in this area is rather nice. Isla Verde area has some food selection as well, and my favorite food truck, El Churri. Another option, but requires transportation, is going the pork route, to Guavate. About 45-60 minute drive, towards the mountains, now, that is where you get real food, roast pig, turkey, chicken, rice and beans, plantains, tostones, mofongo, pasteles.

Its like asking what is the best pizza in Chicago? I like My Pie for deep dish, there's Uno's, Pizza Due, you get the idea. good luck, when are you going, as I travel there frequently, have a studio in Isla Verde and that is my winter escape from the Chicago weather.

Last edited by arollins; Mar 30, 17 at 7:13 am
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Old Mar 30, 17, 12:36 pm
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Originally Posted by arollins View Post
Since you are ORD, have you gone to Humble Park in the city and tried the food trucks there?
I have a little, as I'm in Lincoln Park, not far away. I had read about the pork route, but don't think I'll have time to do it this time. Wasn't planning on getting a car, but I'd consider doing a rental for a day, or a half, while I'm there. So, thank you for the additional suggestions, both locations and specific places like the food truck.
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