The San Juan dining scene was among the capital’s first charms to come roaring back after the hurricane. Not only are longtime favorites like Santaella and Marmalade reopened, but the city has welcomed a slew of new eateries. Here are the best bets.
San Juan’s latest seafood spot, aMare, sits within the new Serafina Beach Hotel. Dishes like branzino baked in a salt crust are the perfect match for the ocean views; serafina beachhotel.com. Azucena fonda contemporánea features a menu with locally sourced ingredients and an outdoor deck with a vertical garden—a great spot to enjoy the hipster parade along Loiza Street; 1806 Calle Loiza, Santurce. At Comedería Fonda Urbana, try chef Xavier Pacheco’s homage to traditional Puerto
Rican food, with dishes such as
chicharrones (fried pork rinds) and
pastelón, a sweet-potato-topped shepherd’s pie; 787/993-5359.
Tapas, wine, cocktails, craft beer, and live jazz lie just behind the curtain of Gemileo, a speakeasy within a clothing boutique and bric-a-brac shop; 1808 Calle Loiza, Santurce. Raya, celebrity chef Mario Pagan’s newest restaurant, blends Caribbean flavors with Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai influences on the ground floor of O:LV 55 Hotel; olvhotel .com. A newly minted James Beard award semifinalist, chef/co-owner Gabriel Hernández creates stunning vegetarian and seafood plates at Verde Mesa, a romantic little hideaway in Old San Juan; 787/390-4662. Vianda’s sophisticated island cuisine features local ingredients on a seasonal menu that may include garbanzo bean stew with pig’s trotters and green banana and cod fish with coconut, shiitake mushrooms, and chili oil; viandapr.com. One of Puerto Rico’s most revered chefs, Wilo Benet, is behind Wilo Eatery & Bar, a lively quick-service restaurant, gourmet shop, and grab-and-go concept; wilobenet.com.