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Raíces, Old San Juan

315 Calle Recinto Sur
Old San Juan
San Juan
Puerto Rico 00901
Tel: 787 289 2121's insider take:

At first glance, Raíces looks as if it caters to the Old San Juan cruise-ship crowd: The waitresses wear Ye Olde Island kerchiefs on their heads, drinks are served in kitschy tin cups, and the booths look like little island casitas, styled in plank wood with tin "roofs." But Raíces (the name means "roots") serves up seriously delicious, authentically local food. The mofongo, the beloved national meal—essentially a mountain of pounded, garlic-enriched plantains with a bubbly center of chorizo, beef, shrimp, or chicken—is served, rich and juicy, in a traditional wooden pilón bowl. Puerto Ricans love their hot oil, and the mixed appetizer plate here—codfish fritters, crabmeat turnovers, and plantain chips—might as well be called "the festival of the fried." The even deeper-fried pork, crisped to a lavalike crunchy exterior and eaten with onions and soupy, spicy, garlicky beans and rice, is also worth clogging your arteries for. Want something (relatively) lighter? Try the grilled skirt steak, doused in parsley-rich chimichurri sauce. Go hungry, then stagger out into the sunny, historic streets.—Leigh Newman

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 11 pm, Sundays 11 am to 10 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.