this will be the 3rd Puerto Rico post in a row. i wonder if any of us were on the same flight!?! we stayed in the rio grande area just down the street from the westin rio mar for 7 days and our last night stayed in old san juan.
Marbella @ the westin rio mar:
just got in from a hellish flight experience and we were starving. it was kind of late and we didn't have the energy to explore the area so we went to westin knowing they had several restaurants. marbella is the least expensive of all the restaurants at the resort. standard menu of salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and a few entrees. many tables of unsupervised children charging their meals to their parents' rooms (guessing parents were in the casino or at one of the many bars in the resort). service was typical of a tourist destination: not very good but friendly and very slow, but we eventually learned that everything is slower on caribbean time so that was not a big deal. shared a crab cake appetizer which was quite good. nice amount of crab, not much filler, breaded with panko so it was very crispy, a little hint of tropical fruit. next had a cubano sandwich and a burger. cubano had sliced roasted pork loin, melted swiss, diced pickles/maybe cornichons on a baguette and served with french fries. burger was a perfect medium rare, we added cheddar cheese and bacon. cubano was good, but not that memorable. the beef used for the burger was juicy and outstanding. pina colada was excellent and much needed after the flight we had. bill with tip around $63.
Antonojito's on 968 (junction of 3 and 968):
the airline lost my bag so we were on a mission to find a store where i could replace my products and toiletries. passed this place several times on our way to and from our apartment. lunch special was a buffet of rice, beans, and lots of meat (bbq'd ribs, fried pork chops, slow cooked chicken thighs, a beef dish). everything was delicious and hit the spot. at $4.50 a plate it was a steal. with a beer and a mojito bill was $22 before tip. didn't look at the dinner menu, so can't say what that is like.
Coqui's Hideaway @ the westin:
met up with our soon-to-be-married friends for dinner here. outdoor restaurant, menu more on the expensive side with entrees of chicken or beef fajitas being on the low end ($18) and steaks on the high end ($38). the guys had fajitas, i ordered flank steak with shrimp and mofongo (unripe plantains prepared mashed potato-style, sort of). made the mistake of not specifying a temperature for my steak. after the fact the waiter informed us that they cook their steaks medium unless specified by the guest. still good, but too much for me to finish (still full from lunch at Antonojito’s). leftover fajitas and steak made for a great breakfast the next morning. frozen mango mojitos were VERY good. our friends paid this bill, but i'm guessing it was around $200 for 3 entrees and several rounds of drinks.
Baru in Old San Juan:
15 of us had dinner here. fun, lively, hip tapas restaurant with loud salsa and meringue music in the background. the server explained that with large groups they typically take the liberty of ordering 3 orders of each of their “best” dishes for the table to share. dishes included shrimp skewers, grilled steak (with more mofongo), fried plantains with some sort of goat cheese accompaniment for dipping, chilled oysters and clams (which were the biggest disappointment because they were lightly steamed rather than raw), mushroom risotto, and many, many rum drinks. it was hard to really concentrate on the food here because we were such a large group, but i remember everything being delicious (except for the oysters and clams) and the service was very good. we split the bill evenly and it worked out to be $45 a person.
The Lighthouse, Luquillo:
one of the many kiosks that line luquillo beach. we originally tried to go to la parilla in the 2nd kiosk spot, but they were no longer serving food by the time we arrived. the lighthouse happened to be the next open kiosk that was still serving food. this was a great find. menu consisted mostly of fried foods. ordered beef pinchos and tacos, with choice of either crab or shredded chicken filling, rolled up and, of course, fried. these were excellent, amazing flavors, surprisingly not greasy. the best though was the fried whole red snapper. not sure what the seasoning/marinade was before it went in the oil. definitely had garlic and possibly lime juice hints to it. i love whole fish so this was a real treat for me. the meat was sweet, exterior crisp and tasty. i literally picked at the thing until there was nothing left except for a whole fish skeleton. prices were very inexpensive, i think the snapper was the most expensive at around $12. cans of medalla light (local Puerto Rican beer) were just over $1 each, mixed drinks around $3-5. the place was run and served by a husband and wife with their 10 year old son skating around on his wheelie sneakers making sure everyone was happy and had a full drink in their hand at all times. we ended up going to this place 3 nights in a row, each night bringing vans full of friends. we definitely sold them out of just about everything one of the nights. they were sad to see us go on our last night.
La Parilla, Luquillo:
our friend raved all week about this place as “the best” so we stopped here for lunch. shared an appetizer of fried plantain cups filled with lobster meat in sauce, then shared an order of mofongo topped with crab meat and sauce. sorry if the description is vague, but that’s how it was described on the menu. both were good, but didn’t wow me. prices were significantly higher than the lighthouse, which was just a few doors down. the appetizer was around $13 and the mofongo was about $22. this place is on the list of recommended restaurants at the westin concierge desk, so it had more of a tourist trap feel and was probably the reason why their prices were higher and the food not that great.
Aguaviva, Old San Juan:
i believe this is under the same ownership as the parrot club and dragonfly. a seafood-driven menu, we went mainly because we knew they had ceviche. 6 ceviche offerings, we ordered the tasting of all 6, chilled oysters and a grilled octopus appetizer. two of the ceviche were excellent (mahi and marlin), the mero, and the combined tuna and salmon ceviche was nice, but didn’t wow me. we didn’t care for the shrimp or the mixed seafood. ceviche came with tostones (fried plantains). grilled octopus was fantastic, tender and flavorful. they had a decent selection of wines by the glass. the space had trendy looking lighting, but something about it also looked somewhat like a cape cod vacation home. i think it was the starfish and white wicker shelving on the wall. we really needed something light after a week full of fried food and frozen drinks. 3 apps, dessert, a glass of wine and a couple of beers came to $109 before tip.
Bebo’s BBQ, Carolina:
this place was next to the car rental place on the way to the airport. i wish it was closer to where we were staying because the food was awesome and it’s open 24 hours. a selection of bbq ribs, slow roasted pork (lechon), sausages, carmelized plantains, and other items that i either can’t remember or didn’t know what they were. since we were about to hop on a plane we didn’t want to order too much. split a half pound (you order by weight) of the pork and a couple of plantains, a coke and a Snapple. the bill came to about $10. the pork was amazing, tender, falling off the bone with crispy, addictive skin. it was a perfect meal for the end of our trip.