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Puerto Rico Dining


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#1 Jason Perlow x

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Posted 05 August 2001 - 09:16 PM

What are some of the best places to stay and eat on the west side of the island? I've been to the San Juan area a few times and I'm looking for something different.

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#2 Bux

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 08:33 PM

There's a fairly expensive Relais & Chateaux establishment on the west coast near Rincon. The son of one of the owners did a stint at Daniel and some other top places in NY. I don't know that he does any cooking there but at least he knows good food. We spent a night there way back, I can't recall how long ago, in fact.

At the time, he had lured one of the younger guys working at Daniel down for a stint in the kitchen. The food was quite good. The problem I had was that it wasn't really Puerto Rican food. He did a duck breast, (very non Puerto Rican) with papaya that was however very successful. I'm not a fan of meat and fruit, but found the papaya an exception as it's not so sweet. In fact I'll recommend papaya and prosciutto as a great combination.  The one thing that did impress me was that the inn (sorry the place is called the Horned Dorset Inn) had arranged for local farmers to grow produce for them. We had some micro lettuces that were not at all a traditional crop but I didn't mind that at all. I will also note that I suspected the food would not be traditional and we stopped off at a local place for lunch before checking in and had some traditionally overcooked fish. Boy was I sorry. Bad food is bad food.


#3 Hernan

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Posted 20 August 2001 - 05:27 PM

Just came back from the West side. Found a place.. a bit pricey but excellent. Strange name though..."Hasta El Cuello" (one of the island's Paradores) located just off the paved road heading towards the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse in the "El Combate" section". Chef there named Alex Toro, trained in France. Stylish, well made and presentable. Atmosphere is nice.... just a few feet off the beach. Very Very Nice.
H

#4 Shiva

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Posted 27 December 2001 - 02:02 PM

The <A HREF="http://www.horneddor...et.com/">Horned Dorset Primavera</A>.  Strange name, great place.



#5 Damian

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Posted 09 January 2002 - 03:26 PM

Horned Dorset is a cool place, and the restaurant is pretty darn good and not outrageously priced.  Rincon is a relaxing surfer town.  My favorite spot on the Western part of the island is the beach at Isabela.  No real food places around there.  

There is a spot in the mounains near Utuado called Lago Dos Bocas.  You used to be able to drive to the small commercial dock on this lake and call a Parador (not sure of the name) the owner would then pick you up in a little launch and take you to the restaurant.  The restaurant did faithful and good renditions of Puerto Rican classics.  I went at lunch and it was and all-you-can-eat buffet, but I think dinner might be individual service.   You eat on the porch overlooking the sloping lawn and the lake.  That place was a lot of fun, you can probably find it in any list of paradores.  You can also drive to it and skip the boat ride (but why?).  

I love driving and hiking through the mountains of Puerto Rico and visiting the small towns. That parador is not far from the Arecibo observatory and museum, another interesting attraction (think the movie Contact).


#6 Lila

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Posted 02 February 2002 - 07:53 AM

Hi..  I'll be going to San Juan this winter, staying in the Condado at El Canario.  Can anyone recommend some good places to eat that will be relatively easy to reach?   Oh, and the cheaper, the better...  Thanks.    

#7 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 03 February 2002 - 01:58 PM

In Condado, on the inexpensive side, there is Danny's International Pizza and Via Appia.  Danny's serves a very nice pie.  The owners are Argentinian and their pizza is very heavy and thick, there are many combinations.  I usually have a blue cheese, jalapeño, pepperoni combination but there are many, many possibilities.  There is other stuff in the menu but the pizza is reputed to be one of the best in San Juan.  Via Appia is the classic San Juan pizza joint.  Good stuff.  Waiters have been there for many years.  Nice place.  Thinner pizza.  Both places are in Ashford Avenue, west of where you are.   A little bit further down is La Patisserie and further stilll are Kasalta a nice and very popular sandwich/bakery place and Dunbar's a very trendy place with nice food.  There are some more expensive places east of where you are.  In Ashford, beyond the Marriott there is Hermes  which has a very good reputation and, probably one of the best restaurant's in Puerto Rico, Ramiro's on Magdalena street (parallel to Ashford).  Further east  on Ashford there is Great Taste, reputed to be the most authentic Chinese in the Island (large chinese clientele), I go there quite often for Dim Sum.  
Do not miss Old San Juan (a 10 minute taxi ride).  Baru on San Sebastian Street and Dragonfly on Fortaleza Street are special places.  Other excellent places elsewhere but not far are Chayote, Pikayo and Augusto's.  
Let me know if you need additional information.

#8 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 12 February 2002 - 04:38 PM

OK this is a horribly incomplete message, since I don't have the name or address of the restaurant, but the food was so good, you'll have to trust my directions. When we went to PR about 3 years ago and stayed at the Caribe Hilton, there was this restaurant right around the corner from the hotel that had the best asopao, that I'm still thinking about it and upset that can't find anything like it in the US.

If you drive to the hotel, just before the hotel driveway, on the right, there is this smaller, local hotel. The restaurant was that hotel's restaurant, but they had a street entrance too. We returned there twice for the best crab asopao ever. (I also had the shrimp asopao, but it wasn't as good as the crab.)

#9 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 10:49 AM

Rachel, I think that the restaurant you are referring to is called La Tasca.  It is located right before the entrance to the Caribe Hilton.    I have not been there but it is one of those places that has been operating in the same locale for what seems like an eternity.
For Lila, if she reappears :D , this is located west from her hotel towards Old San Juan after the Condado bridge.

#10 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 11:11 AM

I think you're right about La Tosca. Try it sometime and let me know your opinion. There are a few other places we went to and enjoyed (like Chef Marisol in Old San Juan), but this is the only one I still pine for and will definitely go back to next time we get to Puerto Rico. Amazingly it was usually pretty empty whenever we were there (at lunchtime), I guess it primarily does dinner business.

I just searched chowhound and found my message about this place from 1999, to quote: "right around the corner from the Caribe (to the right before you turn for the Caribe) is a little hole in the wall with the best Asopao (shrimp was best, but crab is good too)." So maybe I'm not remembering things correctly anymore, but one of them must've been great to be worth talking about three years later!

#11 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 13 February 2002 - 12:02 PM

I think I have never gone to La Tasca because there is no parking.  Plus, I never hear anyone talking about the place.  I might try it one of these days though since it is within walking distance from my residence.   If you guys plan to come back, do let me know so that I can provide some current restaurant recommendations.

#12 bobz

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Posted 08 March 2002 - 11:17 AM

Going to PR in a couple weeks; anyone have any recommendations on where to eat
anywhere on the island?

#13 Damian

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Posted 08 March 2002 - 03:38 PM

Where are you going to be and how cheap are we talking?  I've got plenty of recs. for you in San Juan and several for other parts of the island.  Give me some details and I'll hook you up.

#14 tommy

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Posted 12 March 2002 - 08:14 PM

actually, i'll be in san juan soon.  what can you suggest, restaurant and otherwise.

cheers.

#15 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 18 March 2002 - 04:24 PM

Ok.  The lurker delurks.  I was waiting for Damian to respond to this but Tommy might get here before then.  Top places: Compostela in Avenida Condado, Baru, Il Perugino and Dragonfly in Old San Juan.  Chayote and Augusto's in Miramar.  Ramiro's in Condado.  I like Yamato in El San Juan hotel in Isla Verde, but I guess you are not coming here from New York City's metropolitan area to eat sushi.  Pizza:  Danny's International Pizza in Condado owned by Argentinians offers one of the nicest, if a bit heavy, pies around.  Juan Pan in Avenida Central or Piñeiro as it is also known, has very nice pizza and beef empanadas.  La Cueva del Chicken Inn has perhaps the best pizza in the Island.  Owned by the late Raul Julia's family, it is located in Ponce de Leon avenue between Hato Rey and Rio Piedras.  My favorite mofongo is El Guateque located in the road to Cupey.  Both La Cueva and El Guateque have pretty good local fare.  For pollo asado (roasted chicken), I like Fuentes Barbecue in Guaynabo.  You have to tell a cab driver to take you there, it is not easy to explain how to get there.  As Bux mentioned elsewhere sometime ago, the Piñones area is great for local frituras--alcapurrias, bacalaitos (cod fritters)-- and various  seafood in escabeche like conch (carrucho), octopus and others.  You'll also see a lot of chillo frito (fried red snapper).  and if you see them, by all means order the Pastelillos de Chapín (Chapín is a fish, I don't know its name in English).   There is similar stuff at the kiosks in Luquillo.  Luquillo is located around 40-50 minutes east of San Juan.
The Guavate area is the Island's most renowned place for lechón asado (roasted pig).  Guavate is 45 minutes south of San Juan.  The area is full of lechoneras.  On Sundays it is hopping with locals.  Pretty darn good morcillas (blood sausages) and longaniza.
Pamela's in Ocean Park is a very good upscale place.  Kasalta, also in Ocean Park is a very popular "bakery" with all sorts of sandwiches and many, many other items.  Try their "quesitos".  My wife thinks they are the best in the Island.
If you have specific questions, don't hesitate to ask.

#16 Damian

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Posted 29 April 2002 - 04:44 PM

If its not too late, for cheap eats in San Juan...

I'd add to Miguel's knowledgable list by including Panaderia Espana (across the highway from Isla Verde - get the caldo gallego or anything with jamon serrano). I'd also add Picoteo for tapas in the Hotel El Convento (not cheap but can be if you aren't too hungry).  El Jibarito in Old San Juan for great downhome cooking "comidas criollas" (creole meals).  Go to the Plaza del Mercado in Santurce for incredible produce, great cafe con leche and batidas (fruit shakes), or go for Friday happy hour for a street party with great empanadillas and other street food and $1 beers.  (El Pescador for seafood is also right there).  La Bombonera in Old San Juan for coffee and simple, but excellent meals. Amadeus in Old San Juan.  Casita Blanca in Barrio Obrero (don't walk around there at night).  One of my all-time favorites for moderately priced food is Metropol (any of their three branches is fine)(order the churrasco (skirt steak) or the gallinita rellena (stuffed guinea fowl) or lechon (roast pork).  Many, many others.

#17 Damian

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Posted 01 May 2002 - 12:46 PM

Oh yeah, I'd add Pizzaiolo to Miguel's list of good pizza spots.  I concur that Danny's is a favorite and La Cueva del Chicken Inn is also first-rate despite the wacky name (for some reason the dining room always smells like industrial cleanser, however).  Pizzaiolo is a Brazilian pizza joint with a dense crust and a very tangy and light  sauce - They also have good caipirinhas, not that I'd drink one of those with pizza unless I had a serious ph problem and needed an instant acid fix.

#18 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 05 May 2002 - 03:30 AM

Damian, having been here only two years (where did I learn this?), you did get around a lot.  Amadeus opened a new branch near your old haunt right on Chardon Street in the corner of Cesar Gonzalez in a new tower built by the Fonalledas.  I have not been there but I am told it is frequented by the local glitterati.  El Pescador at La Plaza del Mercado in Santurce is indeed pretty good.  Tiny and I don't think they take reservations, so for lunch you have to get there before noon.  
Other panaderias like España, are La Ceiba in Roosevelt Avenue and La Esmeralda in Avenida Esmeralda in Guaynabo.  Antiguo Bilbao near La Ceiba is also pretty good.
Hey, I think Bob came and went already.

#19 Damian

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Posted 05 May 2002 - 11:30 AM

Miguel,
I was fortunate to have made some good friends almost immediately upon my arrival with some Sanjuaneros, who with a warmth I find typical of most Puerto Ricans and the culture in general, quickly included me in their circle of friends.  They really unlocked the city and the island for me.  I still get back there at least once a year for a long weekend if nothing more and am still in touch with the people I know there.  I love it there.

Damian

#20 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 02:48 PM

Thanks Damian.  Did you like any of the sushi restaurants in San Juan?  Today, after ignoring it for many months, I went back to Yukiyu at the Banco Popular building in Hato Rey.  I became disenchanted with the place because, of all things, the rice in their sushi and rolls was abysmal.  As I remember, it was too mushy, cooked with too much water.  Today, I went there with a friend who recently returned to Puerto Rico.  She wanted to eat sushi and being the only such place in the area, we headed there.  The place had undergone some renovations.  Different waiters and a new sushi guy but same bad rice.  We ordered a few pieces of tuna and salmon sushi and four rolls.  The rice was almost inedible.  Undercooked, and perhaps I am being a bit picky, served too cold.  The fish, with the exception of the salmon which was pretty good, was nondescript.  The service was oversolicitous bordering on pushy.  We were offered the non-sushi appetizers (some soups and shrimp dumplings) three times.   Worse of all, the prices are 20 to 30 percent higher than other sushi places.   Not all sushi places in Puerto Rico are like this.  My favorite is still Yamato at the El San Juan hotel in Isla Verde.

#21 Damian

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Posted 08 July 2002 - 05:08 PM

This is a belated post to your sushi request, Miguel. I agree that Yamato has pretty good sushi - I also found the sushi at Yukiyu's Old San Juan branch to be pretty decent. Dunbar's used to have "sushi night" on Wednesdays with not great, but passable and very cheap sushi platters. As an aside, I miss Dunbar's, everytime I would go I saw people I knew. If nothing else was happening, it was always a reliable place to go and be social. I should have mentioned it for the cheap eats section - but it is better known for the social scene than the dining experience.

Did you ever go to the trendy Ground Zero on Fortaleza during its short life? They had surprisingly good sushi at the sushi bar.

I never ate at the Cherry Blossom in Condado, but the one at Conquistador had good, if wildly overpriced, sushi.

The Yukiyu in the BP building was good for a quick lunch with lower expectations, and yes, it was overpriced.

Edited: Spelling

#22 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 01:15 PM

Well just to bring this back to the top. I am surprised that a little Mickey Mouse island like St. Maarten/St. Martin has like 10 times the posts that the Puerto Rico threads have. :blink:
There are more and better restaurants here. And the beaches are REALLY NICE! (here people keep their clothes on-just barely). Old San Juan is more interesting by a mile than Grand Case or Phillipsburg or Marigot. And the roads (with lots of Federal Highway Authority funding) are slightly better here! :shock: Golf courses, Rain Forests, Shopping Centers, Old Spanish Forts, Mofongo, Nice looking people (think J. Lo and Ricky Martin not Marc Anthony), Plaza las Americas, Tito Trinidad, Roberto Alomar and Iván Rodriguez (any baseball players or boxers in St. Martin?), the Luquillo and Pinones kiosks, nice Puerto Rican Rum (from El Barrilito to Don Q Cristal). And even some high-end restaurants like Ramiro's, Augusto's, Chayote, Inverninos etc.
Puerto Rico is better. :rolleyes:

#23 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 01:54 PM

We're still planning on returning to Puerto Rico. The only islands we have actually not liked were Jamaica and St. Thomas.

OK - to use my mother's logic: St. Martin is our favorite small island where I can practice my French and Puerto Rico is our favorite big island where Jason can practice his Spanish. Fair enough?

#24 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 04:49 PM

Good. Rachel, you also can practice French in the following Caribbean destinations: Guadeloupe, Martinique and best of all-- Haiti! :laugh: :laugh:
I forgot to say that plane fares to San Juan from New York City are less than $200 roundtrip.
The Puerto Rico Tourism Company better pay me good money for all this publicity . . .

#25 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 05:49 PM

you also can practice French in the following Caribbean destinations: Guadeloupe, Martinique and best of all-- Haiti.

I forgot St. Barts. :shock:
You can speak French there. Really expensive though.

#26 Ed Hamilton

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Posted 14 October 2002 - 08:10 PM

If you're going to PR and you don't take time to get to Culebra, well you missed the boat, or rather the ferry, though you can fly there now. But the ferry is a lot more fun. Barbarosa's near the airport sure ain't fancy but consistently has some of the best food on the island.
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#27 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 15 October 2002 - 03:00 PM

Culebra is fine, just don't go there to find food. When i was last there, eons ago, the Dinghy Dock served appropriate burgers. The scenery, the beaches are really breathtaking is you like that sort of stuff. :shock:

#28 Ed Hamilton

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Posted 15 October 2002 - 05:19 PM

When i was last there, eons ago,

I think that pretty well sums it up. But things do change and Barbarosa's is a place where I would eat any time. Barbara was in charge of the kitchen at Seabourne for about ten years after having a place on the old ferry dock but lack of population forced her to close. Now she has her own place again and everything is as fresh or fresher than anyother place on the island.
But when you consider that a fancy place on a small tourist island can't survive in the off season and that on a big weekend the whole population grows to maybe 6,000 people no one can offer the meals you'll find in San Juan or even Luquillo but you won't go hungry on Culebra.
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#29 Miguel Gierbolini

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Posted 15 October 2002 - 06:25 PM

When i was last there, eons ago,

I think that pretty well sums it up

You know an eon is only 7 hours? :wink:
But seriously Ed, :shock: what's in the menu at Barbarosa? is it local fare? :wub:

#30 linken

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 09:01 PM

I will be staying at the Ritz in San Juan mid January and would appreciate any suggestions for great restaurants nearby (other than at the Ritz). Spanish, Continental, or any special places would be helpful. The quality of the food is the most important factor. Thanks