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Puerto Rico (ESJ, OSJ, Condado) Suggestions?

Heading to PR. This is one of my previous reports:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/541095

Haven't been in 2 years. Need my mofongo fix . . .

Starting a search of this Board. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

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    1. re: financialdistrictresident

      Try Pikayo in SJ or try Pamela's at Numero Uno Guest House in Ocean Park. I truly wish I liked Mofongo......love Malloracas at La Bombanera.

      1. re: phelana

        Thanks, phelana. Have not been to Pamela's or La Bombanera.

      2. re: financialdistrictresident

        After a search of this Board a few preliminary ideas:

        Marmalade
        Pikayo (if menu has enough changes since our last visit) or Varita
        Chayote
        El Jibarito
        Casita Miramar
        Pamela's?
        Ramiros?
        Bebos Cafe?
        La Bombonera for a breakfast in OSJ

        We will return to Carli's, El Convento (one of my favorite places in OSJ and SO can practice his Spanish) and Metropol (or the other nearby, local restaurant with mofongo - maybe Mi Casita?).

        Your thoughts?

        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          Try La Casita Blanca in Santurce for truly authentic puerto rico dining.

          1. re: RONNIENJ4

            Thanks, RONNIENJ4. When does La Casita Blanca close? Is it lunch only?

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              Here are the hours for La Casita Blanca.

              http://www.frommers.com/destinations/...

              It looks like they extended it after they became more known on the tourist circuit. If you get a chance, please try La Casita Miramar and report back. I'm curious to know what the food is like.

              FDR, I know you're a pescatarian. Just make sure when you order mofungo that they don't add the pork rinds (it usually is mashed alongside the plantain).

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Thanks, Miss Needle . . .

                Will do.

                Let's hope we can get out of the airport, more snow is forecasted!

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Went to La Casita Miramar (Avenida 605, Esq. (corner) Calle McKinley, Miramar, 787-200-8227) for lunch today. Heard their pollo a la plancha is very good. They were closed so I headed to "the mothership" La Casita Blanca (CASH ONLY):

                  Arrived just before the Friday local lunch crowd, missed the queue that was outside when I left. Christmas tree decorated with silver tinsel, red paper hearts and cupids. No A/C (lots of ceiling fans) so might not be as comfortable in August. Really nice people! Immediately upon arrival was served some garlicky chicken soup in a paper cup. Followed by some baccalau chips and bread.

                  Menu is on a chalkboard which they bring to your table. I just asked my server to feed me (advising no carnes, only pollo and fish). She brought me some sangria (pink-ish, not what I expected), chicken on the bone in a red sauce with a few sweet plaintains, white rice, fresh cilantro. A side of beans.

                  I was too full for dessert - banana flan or coconut custard today.

                  She brought me a digestif, Canario Anis (think Sambuca) con fly in a tiny plastic cup.

                  . . . and only $13 +tip + taxis.

                  Yesterday I had lunch at the Intercontinental lobby bar. Tried their seafood mofongo with creole sauce. The mofongo and sauce was very good. Scallops were small and a bit overcooked. The sliced tomatoes were sad. They just can't grow good tomatoes here . . .At $13.95 you're better off eating lunch at one of the local restaurants.

            2. re: financialdistrictresident

              Ramiros is closed.

              Hearing good things about The Latin Roots. Has anyone been?

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                Heard mixed things yeaterday about The Latin Roots from locals. One said not that great, one said the pork is like the pork in the mountains . . .

              2. re: financialdistrictresident

                Varita tonight . . .

                OSJ today. Skipped breakfast at La Bombonera or Mallorca (SO prefers). Didn't want to walk all the way back to El Convento or Sol St. ((El Jibarito or St. Germain). SO has been to Bebos and El Jibarito. Had a late lunch at Raices (first time for us both, locals had suggested it to SO). Got there before the queue (must be a cruise ship in port). Had mojitos (good, El Conventos are better). Enjoyed sitting outdoors (so many people in the AC - must not be from the Midwest or Northeast and all the snow and cold!). . . Baccalau fritters - more like chips, different style than Carli's or El Convento. Similar in style to La Casita Blanca. Some fried chicken bits and sauce. Mofongo with garlic chicken. Garlic chicken was cooked perfectly. Mofongo was good. Good lunch or snack place, wouldn't suggest for dinner.

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  SO had lunch at Metropol. He had the roasted chicken. I did not get there this trip . . . still managed to eat a lot of mofongo . . .

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    Chayote has moved and is now called "Laurel". It is now located in the Museum of Art of P.R. where Pikayo used to be. Pikayo is now located in the CONRAD Hotel (formerly the Condado Plaza) Both are excellent. Ramiros has closed.

                    1. re: mamadem

                      Have you been to Laurel (formerly Chayote)? Your experience?

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        I have eaten at Laurel a few times and I've enjoyed it each time. Food is delicious, service excellent as always...didn't really love what they did with the decor though...thought it looked much better when Pikayo was there. However...decor is never a deterrent...food is always what matters to me and it is delicious. Will probably dine there tonight. It is a hotspot on Fri & Sat and can get quite full and noisy. Happening scene.

                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                            I usually gravitate towards fish when I eat out in the evening. Every fish that I've had at Laurel has been delicious. I will usually choose the fish of the day and pair it with the sauce & preparation that interests me that day. I do love the tuna with pistachio sauce....excellent combination. Seabass delicious... Tostones with salmon & tuna tartare. Arugula ,papaya & goatcheese salad...everything i've tasted really yummy.

                              1. re: RONNIENJ4

                                Laurel is in the former Pikayo location/Museum . . .

                                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                  Heading to PR in April for a wk w my sister for girl's getaway. Any new recs for Isla Verde area? We won't have a car. Don't usually go into OSJ. Too much of a hassle w traffic. Have tried and enjoyed Il Mulino and Piccolo . Metropol is always a must do. Anything new nearby?

                                  1. re: traveling

                                    You can walk to Mi Casita. More of a local lunch place. I prefer Metropol over Mi Casita.

                                    Based on my experiences, Isla Verde is mostly hotel dining (ESJ, The Ritz-Carlton, InterContinental, Marriott, etc.). My best hotel dinner was at Koco (Caribbean) in the ESJ. I posted my report (too long ago to be helpful) someplace on this thread. Defer to other hounds who have been more recently.

                                    La Casita Blanca. In a neighborhood not far from Isla Verde. Lunch was $13 + tip + taxis. Might be lunch only, so check hours. Not as far as OSJ or Condado (we usually take taxis). Again, defer to hounds who have been more recently.

                                    Please report back . . .

                2. Thanks so much for posting this. We're planning our PR vacation for March 2-12 and looking for all the suggestions we can find!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: marianne215

                    I'll drop a rec for Cafe Puerto Rico in OSJ. Our food there was better than Aquaviva.

                  2. We're going to San Juan this weekend. Going back to Marmalade (which we loved), and trying Pikayo for the first time. Still looking for some good lunch places in Condado and old San Juan, and a more casual (but delicious!) dinner option.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: agoldman

                      agoldman, you might want to try Jam (Marmalade's newer restaurant) in Condado. We have been to Pikayo several times and may try Varita this trip . . .

                      Really enjoyed Pikayo's foie gras with truffle honey, which is still on the menu.

                      1. re: agoldman

                        Koco at the ESJ is very good for dinner. Informal vibe. I went for a solo dinner last time I was here (SO had a business dinner).

                          1. re: agoldman

                            agoldman, where did you eat? Your experience?

                          2. No snow, sleet, rain . . . Sunny and 80 degrees :)

                            Arrived yesterday and went straight to Mi Casita for mofongo (can get it without pork). Different style (mofongo with chicken broth on the side) than Metropol's which I prefer. Their conch is very good as is their chicken soup. Had sweet plaintains and tostones.

                            Last night we had dinner at Carli's. Carli is such a nice man. Dinner accompanied with Carli on piano. We had the cod fritters, mussels and calamari. I had the ceviche app as my main. Others had steak and ravioli. Forgot what SO had. Also had a side of risotto with mushrooms.

                            A great way to start our return to PR . . .

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: financialdistrictresident

                              Glad to hear that the weather is cooperating! When I was there, it was overcast and rainy the entire time.

                              Have fun and eat well!

                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                Thanks, Miss Needle.

                                Heard good things about Casita Miramar today . . .Supposed to be just as good as their Santurce location . . .

                                Hope we can finally get to Marmalade . . .if not maybe their newbie, Jam . . .

                            2. Dinner at Alfredo's last night.

                              A mixed experience. Went for a change from La Piccola Fontana. The atmosphere was very different from Piccola. Alfredo's is larger, more rustic Italian decor (a room with pasta hanging from racks to dry). Piccola is smaller and more formal. Would not recommend Alfredo's for a business dinner (a few diners in shorts and t-shirts, a family with children too young for a formal restaurant - though they did try to take them out when they got unruly).

                              Will report back on food later . . . I played it safe and ordered chicken parmesan. Highlights were wine list, parmesan reggiano tableside service, complimentary champagne with our dessert course.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                Dinner reports for Alfredo's (Intercontinental) and Varita (Condado Plaza Hotel) follow below.

                                ALFREDO'S (Intercontinental):

                                Server poured olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Fresh bread . . .I had a tast of SO's and it was very good. Really liked the tableside Parmesan Reggiano service.

                                APPS

                                *Tomato and crab soup - dining companion seemed to like it, shared a taste with others
                                *Carbonara - SO said it was good
                                *Fettucini with aglio & oil - made in house, good. Liked that some pasta and risotto dishes were available in 1/2 portion

                                ENTREES

                                *Chicken parmesan - I played it safe and had chicken parm. Good. Chicken was cooked perfectly.
                                *Veal scallopini - SO said the sauce was very good
                                *Osso bucco - dining companion enjoyed. None was left . . .
                                *Veal chop - ordered medium rare, served well done. We did not let them know.

                                DESSERT

                                *white choclate creme brulee

                                We appreciated the complimentary champagne with our dessert course.

                                Pacing was slow between courses.
                                Otherwise service was very good. Our overall experience was mixed.

                                VARITA (Condado Plaza Hotel):

                                We've been to Pikayo several times. Thought we'd try the more casual Varita this trip. Space feels a bit cafeteria-ish, though the pictures have upscale stone and tile . . .They didn't have our reservation. Seated promptly. Now on to the food:

                                STARTERS

                                *Gouda cheese Parisienne, guava sauce - round cheese balls. Breading was perfect, guava sauce was delicious. Simple and very good.

                                *Salt cod buenuelos with cilantro pesto - cod fritters. I liked the fritters better than the sauce.

                                SLOW & LOW ROASTING

                                *Porchetta varita with crispy skin - first, this is enough for 2 people! SO did his best . . .This looked and smelled so good . . .SO said it was very good.

                                CHARCUTERIE

                                *duck sausage - house made served with sauerkraut horseradish sauce and grain mustard. Also accompanied by some ? greens. The duck sausage was very good. This dish was very salty for me.

                                DESSERT

                                *candied papaya & queso fresco (cheese) - this dish was not as I expected. I thought it would be more like candied ginger. The papaya was in a syrup. It was very good. There were a few pieces of cheese at the bottom. We really liked this, though it might have been better if it had a little less papaya.

                                Service was excellent. Overall, a very good meal.