the word-of-mouth puerto rico travel guide

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a quick weekend trip for a wedding to Puerto Rico snuck up on me and it was the day before my flight - with no research under my belt. Usually, I'm a Googler and a Pinner, but a summer of non-stop travel left me fatigued so I decided to put the social in social media and reach out to my Facebook people for recommendations. 

You can probably guess why this would be dangerous, but also why it might lead to some pretty amazing discoveries. Who knew I had a whole handful of Puerto Rican friends waiting to give their opinions on how to spend my 48 hours? So, below is a composite of my social-media-word-of-mouth-Puerto-Rican-recommendations. I didn't have the time to leave San Juan, as it was, my dinner on Friday and Saturday night was taken care of with wedding activities - including a puerco entero typical Puerto Rican BBQ - so hopefully some of you can head over to our little neighboring island and use of some the night time recs that I have to save for next time. 

The places with mini-descriptions are from my friend Adriana, a local and the weekend's bride. She's the type of friend who kept a Word doc with New York recommendations to send visitors when we lived in New York. She was asked for help putting together itineraries so often, it was the only way she could keep up. She knows her shit and I trust her recommendations implicitly. 

Breakfast:

Waffle-era: waffles, tea and mimosas with freshly squeezed juice.

La Bombonera:  a classic 102-year-old establishment. Go here if you're looking for old-school charm and get the Pan Mallorca with eggs, ham and cheese.

Lunch: 

La Cuevita del Mar: go for mofongo, fried fish, fish tacos and mamposteao

St. Germain: a light, European-style restaurant with a small rooftop bar, where they serve wine, cheese and all kinds of piscolabis (snacks), starting at 4. They also do a boozy Sunday brunch and dinner.

Verde Mesa: all organic all the time. A mostly pescatarian menu in meat-obsessed Puerto Rico must be pretty darn nice to stay open.

Dinner:

Santaella 

El Churry, Food Truck 

Jose Enrique

Aguaviva

El Jibarito

Toto Salao

Gallo Negro 

Drink:

El Patio de Sam

El Callejon de la TancaTanca: a classic PR drinking on the street kind of a place. They also sell massive alcapurrias. Open as early as 11 AM .

La Factoria on San Sebastian Street

Other: 

Try a piragua (PR shaved ice)

Go to El Morro and San Cristobal, the old forts protecting the city

Stop by La Fortaleza, the Governor's Mansion

Ole on Fortaleza Street sells made to order Panama hats and espadrilles 

Stay:

Olive Boutique Hotel, Condado. Olive has less than a dozen rooms, a steakhouse in the lobby, free candy and cookies and a rooftop bar with a small pool and amazing view. Need we say more? 

Vanderbilt Hotel, Condado. This is the oldest hotel in Puerto Rico, or at least that's what one of my cab drivers said. It's a beautiful, and quite huge, historic hotel that's been recently renovated. The hotel lobby is definitely worth a pop in for a drink and old-timey vibe. 

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Seemed worthy of a photo. 

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Typical pastries in the window at La Bombonera. 

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La Bombonera during a late breakfast. 

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rooftop of Olive Boutique Hotel. 

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Old San Juan. 

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LUCA in Old San Juan was a super nice shopping discovery. The store focuses on local designers, but also featured some heavily curated pieces from around the world. I bought a white cotton dress that I'll probably wear 10,000 times in my life.