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Review of Pikayo Restaurant in San Juan

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Review of Pikayo Restaurant in San Juan
Photo © Pikayo Restaurant
The Bottom Line
It took a long and hard struggle within myself to come up with what I feel is the best restaurant in Puerto Rico (for me, at least) and the choice is Pikayo. Why? The chef is terrific (and a great guy to boot); the food is a masterful take on what Puerto Rico's cuisine is all about; and the setting at one of my new favorite hotels in San Juan, is modern and stylish.
Pros
  • Absolutely fantastic food that interprets local recipes in exciting ways.
  • Brand new digs look chic and sexy.
  • With Chef Wilo Benet at the helm, you're in good hands.
Cons
  • Its not cheap (but then again, it shouldn't be).
Description
  • An absolute star with the locals are the pork belly mini burgers with Gouda cheese.
  • Another recommendation: gandules with chicharron, a 'Rican staple (pigeon peas with rice) mixed with crispy pork skin.
  • Try Chef Wilo's own wine, Dobleú, a Spanish wine declared a "Best Buy" by Robert Parker in the Wine Advocate 2009 Edition.
Guide Review - Review of Pikayo Restaurant in San Juan
Chef Wilo Benet is one of the most acclaimed chefs in Puerto Rico and a pioneer of Puerto Rican fine dining. The secret, and the genius, of Chef Wilo is that he remains a true devotee of his native food, and a true lover of the basics. If you want to make him smile, tell him you love corned beef; he will be your friend. But that's a microcosm of who Chef Wilo is, and, in a way, what Pikayo is. Does that mean you should expect a corned beef sandwich on this menu? Hardly.

It's more the idea that you will see what Chef Wilo calls "timeless classics" represented in a new, unexpected and sophisticated light. Chef Wilo is, in his way, a man of simple tastes: he loves the combination of salty and sweet; he enjoys a good tripleta (a sandwich made with beef, chicken and ham); and while he can deliver haute cuisine with the best of them, he's happy keeping things simple, when simple works. And at Pikayo, his flagship restaurant newly arrived at the Conrad Condado Plaza, you'll get to sample some of his best, most whimsical, and most delightful creations.

Start with a selection from the "Pikadera," the delectable tapas menu featuring my favorite, the pegao with tuna spicy chipotle chile sauce. Pegao is the crunchy rice left at the bottom of the pot or cauldron that the locals love to scrape off and munch on. If you want a truly tropical take on a fine-dining classic, go for the foie gras with ripe plantain, perfectly balanced with a black truffle honey. From here, the bistec encebollado, another homey staple elevated to an art form.

The setting for all this culinary excellence is a beautifully modern space highlighted by corner booths and vivid, colorful paintings by a local artist. Pikayo is one of three Wilo Benet restaurants in San Juan, but it's without a doubt the most fashionable and fancy. It's where the Chef shines brightest.

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