Chef Juan Carlos Madera, presenting his excellent ceviche, is an affable, and talented, host.
Photo © Zain Deane
The Bottom Line
I'm a huge fan of Soleil Beach Club. It's not just the food (although the cuisine here is terrific). It's not just the terrific feature of free transportation to and from the restaurant (although that is a really an exceptional service). And it's not just the location (removed from the glitz of San Juan and steps from the beach). It's all of the above, along with a laid-back, friendly atmosphere that makes the restaurant <i>Un Sitio Diferente</i> - "A Different Place."
- Delicious and inventive Puerto Rican and Caribbean fusion cuisine
- A pleasantly rustic beachside setting far from San Juan
- Free transportation from many hotels in San Juan
- More expensive than any other place in Piñones (with good reason)
- No place for cocktail dresses and your finest suit
- If he's got the lobster, order it; it's a simple dish that lets the flavor of the meat speak for itself, and it's delicious.
- Save room for dessert: the Bananas Foster (with homemade caramel) and key lime pie are terrific.
- After your meal, take a walk on the beach and catch the action at the many kiosks serving crispy goodies and cheap beer.
Guide Review - Soleil Beach Club - Fine Puerto Rican Cuisine in a Rustic Beach Setting
Soleil Beach Club is a hidden gem, tucked along a road that hugs the rustic coast of Puerto Rico, well east of San Juan and its neighboring community of Carolina. You might well ask: Why should I go out of my way to travel to a beachfront eatery when there are so many fine restaurants in San Juan? Valid question. And I would readily give you at least four reasons:
- Soleil Beach Club will send a comfy, free shuttle to pick you up, and will drop you back afterwards, so you don't need to worry about expensive taxis, being stranded in an unfamiliar neighborhood, or drinking and driving.
- Soleil Beach Club isn't the cheapest restaurant in Piñones by any stretch, but it is the only place in the area to get refined and creative Puerto Rican cuisine for less than what it would cost in Old San Juan. The menu here stays close to its local roots, with an emphasis on seafood (terrific chillo entero[/link">, succulent Caribbean lobster, refreshing ceviche) and mixing innovative gourmet touches with classic 'Rican and Caribbean recipes.
- The setting takes you away from the polish and glitz of San Juan and transports you to the more down-home, informal beachfront atmosphere of Piñones. This is where the locals come to hang out, enjoy a slew of snacks and cheep beer, and enjoy the ocean. It's got a distinct vibe, and is a great place to spend the day or the night. (It helps that Soleil Beach Club has live music on weekend nights.)
- In addition to the setting, the restaurant itself is an inviting place for those who like a low-key ambience. From Chef Juan Carlos Madera to the young, friendly staff, there is no pretense here - just great food, great people, and a great setting.
What more can you ask for from a restaurant?