San Juan: 3 Nights, 3 Dinners, Help.
Philadelphia foodie here. I'll be in San Juan (first time) for three days next week. Staying at The Water Club one night and the El San Juan the other two, both on Isla Verde. Food wise, I want to make the most of this short jaunt. I was thinking of Tangerine in the Water Club for the first night. I'm wondering how good it is, as hotel restaurants tend to not be all that great. I was also thinking Aquaviva in Old San Juan one night. Any personal experiences at either? Need a recommendation for another dinner. Also, any authentic Puerto Rican coffee shops or cafes to grab breakfast on Isla Verde near either hotel? Thanks!
Aquaviva is fantastic. Their ceviches and mojitos are top notch and my husband and I had an all around lovely experience there.
Also, please have a meal (either lunch or dinner) at Casa Dante, which I believe is in Isla Verde, for a more authentic Comida Criolla meal. The Mofongo con Camerones Criollas (Shrimp in creole sauce with mashed plantain and pork ) is to die for.
I urge you to rent a car, at least for a day, and get out of San Juan. The best food on the island is found not in upscale restaurants, but in kiosks along the roadside.
One excellent area to drive to is Pinones, which is about 20min. outside San Juan if you drive east along the coast. You'll cross a bridge separating the San Juan metropolitan area from Pinones/Loiza. You'll stay on this two lane road and after a few minutes you'll see a bunch of roadside stands ("kiosks") along the road. Look for a place with a wood-fired stove, .
This probably sounds complicated, but it's not. And don't worry to much about speaking Spanish, many of these places are accustomed to tourists.
Truly this is where you'll get the best of P.R.--fresh coconuts, frituras (fried stuff), and lots of local character.
People also rave about La Casita Blanca in Santurce, but I haven't yet been there.
If you're willing to drive a little longer (approx. 5hours round trip including eating) drive to the mountains south of the city and get Lechon (roast pig). It's a real treat.