They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. But the right meal, in the right place, can usually be a pretty decent bet to stoke any lover's passion. In San Juan, there are no shortage of great dining destinations, but when you want something special for that special someone, book a table at one of these five romantic restaurants. You and your loved one will be glad you did.
The dazzling decor, in a makeshift clam shell; the setting, on a pool of water with the ocean waves practically lapping against your feet; the destination, at the swank and stylish Renaissance La Concha in Condado; and the sophisticated cuisine helmed by chef Dayn Smith, all make Perla a unique, sumptuous, and intimate restaurant.
If you want a special night out in a place designed to impress, I recommend Perla (which means "Pearl"), which has my vote for most romantic restaurant in San Juan.
Chef Roberto Treviño is among the most innovative chefs in Puerto Rico, a man whose resume includes a head to head battle against Mario Batali on Food Network's Iron Chef. And his flagship restaurant, Budatai, is his wonderfully creative take on Pan-Asian and Caribbean fusion fine dining.
Located in chic Condado, Budatai impresses in its cuisine as much as its Asian-themed decor, creative cocktails and wine menu, and open terrace, a perfect place to enjoy the San Juan air at night.
Maybe it's the Pan-Asian Caribbean fusion theme, which I love (you have to try the duck nachos here). Maybe it's the smoky, intimate, red-hued atmosphere, which lends itself to huddling over a table and sharing a delicious meal. Or maybe it's the location, on Fortaleza Street in Old San Juan.
Whatever the reason, I love the sensual vibe at Dragonfly, which remains cozy even as it stays bustling and ever-popular with the locals. And the excellent menu doesn't, romantic decor, and extensive cocktail menu don't hurt.
Fortaleza Street has some of the best restaurants in the city, but only one of them made it on this list: Trois Cent Onze, or 311. Unlike its flashier, hipper neighbors, this French stalwart maintains a quiet elegance and a serenity often bereft in the frenzy caused by the popular eateries in Old San Juan's most popular dining destination.
The restaurant also keeps to itself when it comes to its cuisine; that is, it is strictly and purely French, rather than a fusion of Puerto Rican and Mediterranean flavors. If you want to go the extra mile, opt for the vintner's dinner, in which the chef will pair a different wine with each course. In Old San Juan, 311 is refreshingly far from the maddening crowds.