Throughout the island you can find everything from French haute cuisine to sushi bars, as well as superb local eateries serving comida criolla, traditional Puerto Rican meals. Note that the mesón gastronómico label is used by the government to recognize restaurants that preserve culinary traditions. By law, every menu has a written warning about the dangers of consuming raw foods; therefore, if you want something medium rare, you need to be specific about how you'd like it cooked. The restaurants we list are the cream of the crop in each price category.
Meals and Mealtimes
Puerto Ricans' eating habits mirror those of their counterparts on the mainland United States: They eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, though they don't tend to drink as much coffee throughout the day. Instead, islanders like a steaming, high-test café con leche in the morning and another between 2 and 4 pm, perhaps alongside a local pastry or other sweet treat. They may finish a meal with coffee, but they never drink coffee during a meal.
People tend to eat dinner late in Puerto Rico. Many restaurants don’t open until 6 pm. You may find yourself alone in the restaurant if you eat before 7 pm; from 8 pm onward, it may be quite busy.
Unless otherwise noted, the restaurants listed are open daily for lunch and dinner.
Reservations and Dress
Regardless of where you are, it's a good idea to make a reservation if you can. In some places, it's expected. We mention reservations specifically only when they're essential (there's no other way you'll ever get a table) or when they are not accepted. For popular restaurants, book as far ahead as you can (often 30 days), and reconfirm as soon as you arrive. (Large parties should always call ahead to check the reservations policy.) We mention dress only when men are required to wear a jacket or a jacket and tie.
Puerto Ricans generally dress up to go out, particularly in the evening. And always remember: beach attire is only for the beach.
Wines, Beer, and Spirits
Puerto Rico isn't a notable producer of wine, but it does make several well-crafted local beers and, of course, lots of rum. Legends trace the birthplace of the piña colada to several San Juan establishments. Puerto Rican rum is popular mixed with cola (known as a cuba libre), soda, tonic, juices, or water, or served on the rocks or even straight up. Look for Bacardí, Don Q, Palo Viejo, Caliche, and Barrilito. The drinking age in Puerto Rico is 18.