Puerto Rico

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Our magical time in Puerto Rico seems like it happened years ago. . . I am craving warmth and sunshine in a big way, and Boston is not delivering! The trip was full of relaxation, beach time, and lots of local food, which we tried in all sorts of places, including at Los Kioskos, the kiosks in Luquillo, a must-visit for anyone traveling to the area.

The kiosks are a long stretch of roadside food stands, some small storefronts and others more upscale restaurants, all facing a beautiful beach. The kiosks give you access to about 60 different eating and drinking options with some shops and even a piercing and tattoo studio mixed in!

Luquillo Luquillo Kiosks

If you’re visiting Luquillo, you’ll want to visit the kiosks more than once to sample the variety of food there. We loved fresh, tangy ceviche at the Ceviche Hut, along with their peek out at the ocean. This was always a packed spot; you can tell it’s popular and that the seafood flies out of there!

ceviche

los kioskos luquillo

After our hike at El Yunque National Forest, the burgers at the El Jefe kiosk were calling our names, as were their delicious rum cocktails! I loved my Caribbean BBQ Burger with avocado, red onion, and pickles and hand cut fries as much as I loved my rum punch. This would definitely be a spot I would visit again; the menu offered burgers stuffed with chorizo and short ribs, which both sounded decadent and delicious, perfect for a slightly cooler day.

burgers for lunch We also loved that many of the places had happy hours. Tattoo Tavern was great for this as well as for live music later in the evening. I almost got my nose pierced again, but the tattoo/piercing part of the business was closed when we went back. Next time!

drinks in Puerto Rico

One of our favorite kiosks for a more sit down dinner was Terruno, where we found incredible local music, dancing, and dinner, along with really friendly and welcoming service. We didn’t stop smiling the entire time, as we chowed down on fried cheese with guava and shrimp mofongo with a garlic sauce.

fried cheese Seriously, this shrimp was pure heaven. Sharing an appetizer and a main course was enough to fill us up and to get us ready for a night of moving to the music. Such warmth and local flavor to be found by visiting the kiosks!

mofongo empanadas On another night, we did a couple of appetizers at Mata de Platano where again we went with seafood; crab empanadas and salmon skewers, again delicious and served with true Puerto Rican hospitality.

fish skewers

Our final stop at the kiosks was Edelweiss, known for their extensive beer selection and, you guessed it, friendly staff. Edelweiss is the perfect post-beach spot to start your wandering of the kioskos; most places allow you to take your beer to go as a refresher while you browse the other kiosks.

edelweiss kiosk

We really only visited a small handful of the kiosks but spent a lot of time wandering up and down the stretch, seeing families enjoying meals, friends out dancing, people on dates, and lots of people just relaxing after work. It’s a great spot to see how the locals enjoy life, one another, and good food.

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Tags: adventure, Dining out, Food, Puerto Rico, Restaurants, Travel

Our home base in Old San Juan was exactly what we wanted in terms of location (and everything else). It was so close to many restaurants and beautiful spaces that it encouraged us to walk and explore all over, burning off some of the rum drinks that we enjoyed while relaxing in Luquillo.

rum tasting in old san juan

Casa Melaza was the cute rum bar just around the corner from our hotel. It was a lovely space with door open to the street and a healthy selection of rum. We enjoyed all of the rums we tasted, but we weren’t thrilled with the service. There was no menu or tasting list with prices, and when I asked the staff member got an attitude. I’m not sure what it was, maybe a little arrogance, that just got to us, and we agreed we would hesitate to go back.

 

Mallorca sandwich

Aside from that, everything was perfect, with delicious food and lovely people.  One of the staples of my Puerto Rico diet (and half the reason I need a real diet now) was my love for Mallorca Paninis, thin pressed sandwiches stuffed with ham and cheese and sprinkled with delectably messy powdered sugar. The salty ham and cheese paired with the sweet? Heavenly.

Anam Spa and Cocktail Lounge

Also heavenly? A salon/spa/cocktail lounge in one. We discovered Anam Cocktail Spa in the evening as it was about to close and had a quick cocktail on their terrace in a beautiful, dusky setting overlooking the city and the sea.

And we vowed to return the next day for cocktails and spa!

al fresco drinks in Old San Juan

Massages were $1/minute, and anything above $20 included a glass of sangria.

Anam Spa Old San Juan

Our massages were done side-by-side in an airy room with light music playing in the background, and I swear I would fly to San Juan just for this massage. It was blissful. I was in a sleeping/awake state the whole time, and then gazed out the door with a strong and delicious sangria after.

Anam Spa

 

 

El Convento

We spent a good chunk of our time in Old San Juan visiting El Convento, an iconic spot in the city, and for good reason. This was one of the only places we visited on our brief layover on the way home from Grenada, and we knew we wanted to go back. It was our first stop, for a morning mojito in their gorgeous courtyard.

mojitos at El Convento

 

mojitos And then we went back later to El Picoteo, a practical tapas institution that was recommended by many people, including Molly.

We had rum drinks and a couple of tapas, followed by a long walk for the sunset.

san juan sunset

Followed by another walk and then a return to El Picoteo for more rum drinks and tapas. It actually felt really good to stretch out the meal and drinks with some movement and fresh air.

el picoteo

We loved the bartender at El Picoteo, who had moved from Michigan (or Wisconsin?) with his fiance, gotten married there, and stayed. It made me want to pick up my life and move there too!

We had some amazing sausages in wine and classic gambas al ajillo, in addition to Manchego with truffle honey. Yum.

cheese and truffle honey

And we loved El Convento so much we returned for breakfast the next day, and you guessed it, a Mallorca Panini (with mimosas).

Mallorca sandwich

Our final day in Puerto Rico was super hot (even for me), so in addition to lots of wandering, we also sought cool breezes in shady courtyards with cold drinks. You can’t go to San Juan without a trip to Barrachina for a Piña Colada where they were created!

original pina colada

We talked cocktails with the fun bartender while sipping slushy, coconutty deliciousness and loved it. The only downside of that experience was the arrival of throngs of cruise ship passengers in town for the day. They basically fit the stereotypical American tourist bill; loud, pushy, rude, unwilling to try new things. We had a chuckle and bushed it off, too happy with our cocktails and relaxation to let their takeover bother us.

ceviche

empanada

All good things must come to an end, so before we left for the airport we had one last taste of the flavor of San Juan. Nono’s was another open-air spot with a huge menu, and we went for a tangy ceviche and lobster-stuffed empanadas. Delicioso!

San Juan has so much to see, do, and taste, and we only got started on making our way through this magical little city. We fell in love with Puerto Rico, and I hope someday that you get to as well.

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Tags: cocktails, Dining out, Food, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, rum, Travel, travel blog

The one night we spent in Old San Juan was an absolute delight, thanks in part to the gorgeous Monastery Art Suites. Being in the heart of Old San Juan, it was definitely different than our beach paradise in Luquillo. The colorful architecture of Old San Juan, along with restaurants, art, and more surrounded the location, and we were a short walk from the sea on all sides.

We arrived at the hotel early for our reservation and received the warmest welcome while our bags were whisked away and stored for us. We had to return our car to the airport (definitely don’t need it in the city) and when we got back to the hotel, we explored the stunning, artistic lobby and events spaces.

Monastery Art Suites Monastery Art Suites The building has a long history and was at one point a Masonic lodge. Thick stone, high ceilings, decorative windows, and beautiful staircases make every corner worth inspecting. There are beautifully detailed surprises everywhere.

Monastery Art Suites

When we were whisked to our room by the friendly woman at the front desk, we discovered our bags had already been brought up for us. The warm and artsy theme of the rest of the hotel carried into our room, which had beautiful colors and little touches. Monastery Art Suites

 

Monastery Art Suites

And while the hotel is historic, we enjoyed many modern touches in our room, including excellent air conditioning that cut through the brutal heat, Apple television, a fridge, coffee maker, and a wonderful shower. Our shutters opened to overlook the sunny lobby area and the umbrellas we saw from the other side when we arrived.

Monastery Art Suites

The hotel’s location near government buildings meant that there were officers right at the end of the street at all times, making it feel complete safe at all hours. From here we were able to walk everywhere we wanted and to retire in utmost comfort at the end of the day. I slept so well and felt so rested after our night here.

I can’t recommend the hotel and its lovely staff enough. Monastery Art Suites will be our Old San Juan home base going forward, and let’s face it, with snow in April, all I am doing is dreaming of going back.

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Tags: art, hotels, Puerto Rico, san juan, Travel

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