May 11, 2016

Dreaming of San Juan Puerto Rico like I am? Here's your guide.

A year ago I was in Puerto Rico.  I was visiting my best friend Aimee in San Juan because she is a lucky lady and gets to go there for work on their dime.  It was such a cathartic trip and so life changing. I want to go back so bad!  And you, dear reader,  get to reap the benefits, this blog and my so so much fun guide to San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Linking up with Kerri, Emily and Kate for Wanderlust Wednesdays. Click on over and see what they are up to!

Oh if I had a balcony like this I would live on it!


Aimee, Cami and Nilma (her coworkers and friends) had to work on Friday after I got there Thursday night so I had to plan some fun for myself.  I didn't want to just lay out by the pool so I did some researching.  I stumbled across this Walk and Taste tour from Spoon Food Tours.  It was for a walking tour of Old San Juan complete with brunch, basically a historic architecture tour with food.  I am an attorney that focuses on historic preservation and have a food blog, it was like someone created this just for me!

I took a very scary cab drive to the meeting spot. The traffic and driving in San Juan is so erratic and wild. I thought people didn't know how to drive in Dallas (no offense to Dallas) but this was unreal. I walked around the meeting point and saw no one but an older couple that seemed to be taking a nap. Then a beautiful Puerto Rican lady with a sign walked up and we all jumped. Turned out it was just us four on our tour, the couple, myself and Caroline our tour guide.






The original walls of the old fort.  The graves were always kept on the outside of the wall as they were unsanitary.  The poor people were also kept on the outside too to not spread disease.  It is amazing  remember all of this!



First food stop was for a coffee and a sweet bread at Cafecultura, it was so good!




The streets in old San Juan are blue!  This is because they were made from iron waste, which is why they have lasted so long.  Although some are having to be replaced now.



The architecture is just amazing!  Speaking of architecture, it turned out the man in the couple on the tour with me was an architect and was very familiar with historic preservation, New Orleans and the agencies I represent.  We had a lot to talk about!



Stopped for a quesito.  it is basically a croissant stuffed with cheese.  So delicious!

Down at the end is the capital.  This was as close as we could get!

Since this is a food blog I will not bore you with my 100's of pictures of buildings.  I will get back to the food!


We stopped at our final destination, La Cueva del mar for a chironja juice with rum.  This was delicious.  It is a hybrid of an orange and grapefruit.  So refreshing.  We had nice conversations about the couple's travels.  I made mental notes that I now, of course, have forgotten :(



We also had a grouper fish taco and a beef and plantain empanada.  Holy cow, how delicious!  My beautiful tour guide also wrote down some non touristy stuff for me which I have reproduced down below for you.



I came back to the hotel to wait for the ladies.  I had to get a selfie, it was the theme of the weekend. Best Buy had their top performers there that weekend and they all had selfie sticks.  It was the first time I had really seen such a thing!



The first night we stayed at the Caribe which you can see in this beautiful sunset photo.  We moved to the Condado the rest of the weekend. They are both excellent choices.  I am not sure how the Airbnb is there, but you probably don't want to stay super off the beaten path in San Juan.  The rest of it kind of looks like any town in America, I was shocked how typical suburban some of it was.

I convinced the two Puerto Rico experts (they hang out there a lot) to let me use the suggestions my guide gave me for the food.  They had never heard of the places the tour guide sent us.  I love seeing how the cool locals do it and they obliged.

We went to Gallo Negro Friday night.  The cab driver was kind of shocked we were going there because it was in a "bad neighborhood"  I will say it looked more "up and coming" than bad.  But I am also from a city with lots of up and coming neighborhoods.  The restaurant was just as I expected, dark and eclectic, fancy cocktails and and a cool vibe.  This was a year ago so it is probably more happening now.


Bottom left is Cami's foil wrapped Salmon with Bok Choy and other veggies, above that is my local sausage bolongese with rice cakes (not what you are thinking) and to the right is Aimee's tuna and gnocchi.  All very delish!


I love these girls!  I miss being so tan and blond!

Saturday we went stand up paddle boarding.  The weather looked a bit ominous and it turned out to be a not so good day to do that activity.  The guide had to come rescue me because the wind had taken me so far off course I was about to hit the ocean.  It was a tad scary.  We decided to end it early and have some safer time by the pool after.

I tried to take a pic through my ziploc.  I failed.  The water was gorgeous.


Saturday night we took my guide's suggestion again and ventured to Jose Enrique for dinner in the La Placita area.  We put our name down at 6:30.  We were not seated until 10pm.  We walked around La Placita and heard music and drank while we waited.  It was such an eclectic area with lots of different venues.  During the day there is an outdoor market there.


The menu is written on a board that they bring to your table.  It was kind of weird at first especially since we were a bit tipsy already.  The food was really good and worth the wait. We had the charcuterie plate, a tropical salad to split, I had skirt steak and the ladies had mahi mahi and grouper. All delightful.   We had some deep conversations about our stations in life that led to tears later on. Oh girls and our emotions!

Sunday Aimee and I had breakfast on the beach at El Alambique.  The view was amazing.  The Bloody Mary's were delightful.  We got the same thing.  The food was the "worst" of our trip, however that was skewed because of the fancy dinners I made us try!

I wish I could eat on the beach every day!

This was mother's day.  Apparently we were lucky to find this place open as San Juan pretty much shuts down on mother's day.  Even the mall was closed!  We ended our trip ironically at a Pf Chang's to have one last glass.  


Love this lady and so glad we had a fun vacation in San Juan Puerto Rico!


Your to do list in San Juan, Puerto Rico:


Where to Stay:
Hilton Condado


Areas of town and things to do:

La Pacita de Santurce:
Jose Enrique (dinner)
Santatella for cocktails
talk a walk around!

Old San Juan:
Casa Cortes chocobar (chocolate & art!)
Fatty's (I am really mad I did not get to go here)

Miramar:
La Jaquita Baya (farm to table)

Pinones:
Whiskey Coco

Fajardo:

Luquillo:

Have you been to San Juan?  What are your favorites if so?  Where are you going on your next trip?


Happy Cooking! (And traveling!)

Missy

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