Puerto Rico restaurants
The Puerto Rico dining scene is, unlike that on smaller Caribbean islands, exceptionally sophisticated, inventive, and food-obsessed. True, American chain restaurants dot the landscape, but resist the temptation to indulge in foot-long subs or buckets of fried chicken, and you'll be rewarded with restaurants serving up well-executed local classics as well as cuisine imported from South America, Asia, and Europe. A new generation of fusion-minded chefs have incorporated these international ingredients into traditional Puerto Rican dishes: Try their fare at restaurants like Pikayo and Marmalade in San Juan.
Traditional Puerto Rican cuisine is based on Spain's, with African and West Indian influences. Paella with langoustines, fiery black-bean soup, and a beef stew called sancocho all include typically Puerto Rican flavors of clove, cinnamon, ginger, and sour orange. Other favorite dishes include the plantain-based mofongo and salt-cod fritters, a legacy of the country's colonial past. Tropical fruit is abundant, so you will see papaya, mango, tamarind, coconut, and pineapple everywhere, not least in the many rum libations.
For restaurants in San Juan and other cities, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are the big nights out, so reserve in advance. Note that prime dining time is at 9 pm.