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Impromptu trip to San Juan, PR- where to eat cheap but well?

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Hi all,

My wife surprised me with tickets to Puerto Rico for my fortieth birthday in a couple weeks. We don't have much cash for it (she got an insanely good deal on the tix) but our needs are simple. We'll be staying at a hostel in San Juan with an kitchen we can use, so I figure we can eat out for lunch & have something light at the hostel for dinner. I really know very little about PR besides what I've seen on "No Reservations" & from talking to a few friends of Puerto Rican descent. We don't plan on renting a car but are not averse to walking & are good with public transit in strange places. We'll arrive on Monday, May 06 & depart on Friday, May 10. What do you fine folks recommend for good local food that isn't touristy crap & wont break the bank?

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  1. 1) read about public transportation before using.
    2) Great deals abound in the "high dining" sector. awesome values.
    3) Take a full day trip to the rain forest. they'll feed you right.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chowrin

      We'll have the public transit well mapped out before the trip. That's not an issue, but thanks for the suggestion.
      Any "high dining sector" recommendations?
      El Yunque is the part I'm looking forward to the most. I hear great things about the roadside stands & what they have to offer.

      1. re: phalanxausage

        it's not the wellmapped out part that's the problem... it's the timeliness...

    2. OK, Puerto Rican here.

      I haven't been there in a while, but my friend went for a short vacation (like yours) and I can give you a rundown of places she loved.

      Bebo's Cafe and La Casita Blanca were her favorites. There are reviews and info about those places on the internet. I can tell you that Bebo's Hot Sauce is delicious, and not super spicy, the way we like our pique.

      I heard good things about Jose Enrique in Santurce, but I cannot tell you from experience.

      If you are going to be in San Juan on a Friday evening, Check La Placita de Santurce, it's very lively, full of bars and places to eat. I try to go once when I visit.

      None of those places are known to be very expensive, I know La Casita is very popular with the lunch crowd.

      Also, near El Yunque, there is Luqillo beach. The beach is gorgeous and there are a ton of little places that sell seafood and fritters and beer...

      1 Reply
      1. re: emuel31

        Thanks! I've heard of Bebo's, so with your recommendation I think we'll put it on the list. La Casita Blanca looks excellent- just the sort of place I was looking for. Really looking forward to that one!

      2. We go to Bebo's and La Casita Blanca everytime we visit Puerto Rico. You can never go home hungry and the food is delicious at both places

        1. I would really, really recommend renting a car, it's incredibly cheap and in my opinion, necessary. We got a great rate searching on Kayak. (I always get higher rates on the weekend, so you might want to wait until Monday) The island is only 100 miles wide and with a car you can see so much in a short time. Just curious, how much is the hostel because there are a couple of really cheap places to stay using AirBnb if you're up to it. Eating out here is pretty cheap to begin with, if its just the two of you, it would probably make more sense to order a couple of extra items at lunch and take home your leftovers for dinner. I haven't once eaten an entire meal and I have a very healthy appetite. As far as particular places, I know of two in Arecibo that are popular with the locals, but not foodie places by any means. If you're looking for the latter, you might want to skip them but if you want to eat what locals love, then head on over. They're family type restaurants with honest to goodness Puerto Rican fare made very well. First there is Dona Rosa's, moderately priced, do not go on a weekend night. Secondly there is Salitre Meson Costero, this is a little pricier but you are paying for the unbeatable views of the beach. Have a passionfruit daiquiri and you'll soon forget about all your troubles. Have fun on your trip, there will be a lot to soak in if it's your first time and don't forget to have a piragua!
          Below: views from Salitre Meson Costero.