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Old San Juan Restaurants and ShoppingDecember 24, 2007 By: Kay Showker Travel Agent
Old San Juan Restaurants
Old San Juan has so many good restaurants that one would need several visits to try them all. For several blocks beyond Chateau Cervantes, Calle Recinto Sur is lined with restaurants, each with different cuisine Ð Italian, Mexican, Turkish, Puerto Rican, Seafood, Steakhouse Ð and some with sidewalk cafes. Two blocs away on Calle Forteleza is another group, including some of the cityÕs best.
Aguaviva (364 Calle Fortaleza; 787-722-0665) specializes in seafood and even has a ceviche bar. ItÕs one of eight restaurants belonging to Emilo and Gigi Figueroa, who started their culinary enterprise with the wildly popular Parrot Club (363 Calle Fortaleza; 787Ð725Ð7370; www.parrotclub.com) known for its innovative, eclectic Caribbean menu; Dragonfly (364 Calle Fortaleza; 787Ð977Ð3886) for trendy Asian/Latin fusion cuisine; Sonne (358 Fortaleza; 787-721-0136), a steakhouse with live jazz six nights weekly; and around the corner, Toro Salao (Calle Tetuan 367; 787-722-3330), a tapas bar; and up the street, Sofia (San Francisco 355; 787-721-0396) for Italian cuisine and live jazz Thursday-Saturday.
Some others to note are Il Perugino (105 Calle Cristo; 787Ð722Ð5481) often named the best restaurant in Old San Juan; Marmalade (317 Fortelaza; 787-724-3969; www.marmaladepr.com) for sophisticated French-Caribbean fusion cuisine by owner/chef Peter Schintler; Cafe Berlin (407 San Francisco; 787Ð722Ð5205), a pastry shop and sidewalk cafe overlooking Plaza Col—n and a great people-watching spot; El Patio de Sam (102 Calle San Sebastian; 787Ð723Ð1149) for a snack during a walking or shopping tour; and La Mallorquina (207 Calle San Justo; 787Ð722Ð3261), in operation since 1850, for traditional Puerto Rican, Spanish and Cuban fare.
Tip: Agents may want to advise clients that San Juan hotels and restaurants are now nonsmoking.
San Juan Shopping
In Old San Juan, Calle Fortaleza and Calle Cristo are the main shopping streets with shops as varied as Puerto Rico Art & Crafts (Fortaleza 204) which features the islandÕs best artisans for pottery, glass, ceramics, paper mache and more; and Artesanias Catleya (Fortaleza 256), specialists in the popular small wall mount reproductions of the Old San Juan houses; to Polo Ralph Lauren (Calle Cristo 201) and Coach (Calle Cristo 158) or Lisa Cappelli (206 Calle OÕDonnell/Plaza Colon), a young Puerto Rican designer who creates fun, fresh, funky outfits. And shoppers, donÕt overlook the side streets.
For high fashion boutiques, Ashford Avenue in Condado has Ferragamo, Chanel, Gucci, Jill Sanders, and Puerto Rican designers Nono Maldonado and David Antonio (69 Avenida Condado).
when two dozen Old San Juan galleries and museums open in the evening, are held monthly on the first Tuesday, February-May and September-December, and are very popular with visitors. Tops in the group are Galer’a Botello
(280 Calle Cristo; 787-723-9987), named for the late Spanish-born artist Angel Botello who made Puerto Rico his home, which features contemporary Latin American artists as well as Botello; and Galeria Arte Espinal
(Calle San Francisco 304), the gallery of artist Santiago Espinal, which has changing exhibits of high quality Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and South American artists.