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Review of the Piña Colada Club Restaurant in San Juan

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Review of the Piña Colada Club Restaurant in San Juan
Photo © Zain Deane

Say Hello to the Piña Colada Club:

A Latin-Caribbean take on a traditional American diner, the Piña Colada Club manages to be a great blend of comfort food and tropical flavors. With a creative burger and hot dog menu, a chalkboard menu of shakes (recommended by none other than Homer Simpson the last time I was there), and plenty of tropical twists on your typical diner goodness, it offers something unique. And if you're looking for a place to watch the game on Sunday, order a beer and a plate of chicken wings at the bar, and check out who's playing on the flat screen TVs above you.

The Details:

The Piña Colada Club is located at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant specializes in burgers, sandwiches, wraps and sandwiches with a Caribbean kick. It also hosts a scrumptious weekend breakfast with dishes like pork and eggs benedict, guava pancakes and cilantro scrambled eggs. Also, in the entrance of the restaurant, check out the clothing line from the Piña Colada Club Store, which specializes in tropical chic beachwear, and is on my list of recommended fashion boutiques in the city.

Finally ... A Caribbean Diner in San Juan:

San Juan has an amazing variety and standard of food, from gourmet Asian-fusion to traditional Spanish tapas to Belgian fries to die for. What it hasn't had for a long time is a good old fashioned diner ... that is, until the Piña Colada Club opened its doors at the Caribe Hilton.

The newest member of the Oof! Restaurants family, which includes some of my favorite eateries in the city, Piña Colada Club calls itself a tropical diner. If that means mixing good old fashioned American comfort food with the flavors of the Caribbean, it's a perfect description.

The restaurant is a mix of sports bar (plenty of flat screen TVs showing a variety of sports and sports channels) and casual, colorful eatery. It's an inviting setting, made all the more diner-like by the chalkboard featuring a depiction of Homer Simpson selling the Club's signature milkshakes. It's an immediately inviting place to sit down and order something that you will need to exercise away later.

As for the menu, you'll find all your diner favorites, but many come with a Latin-Caribbean zing to them. Popcorn shrimp? Try coconut popcorn shrimp. Cobb salad? Here it's a Latin Cobb salad (that means it comes with plantain strips and avocado). Feel like a Reuben? Go for the Cuban Reuben (substitute corned beef for roast pork and baked ham). Try your hot dog with pineapple relish ... You get the idea. The concept is a fresh and welcome change to the diner you know, and yet a complete departure from traditional Puerto Rican food.

We started our meal with the island empanadillas, which proved to be rich and dense turnovers filled with ground beef and fried sweet plantains. One of us tackled the intimidating Piña Colada Burger, which came seasoned with sofrito and layered with Swiss cheese, avocado sauce and sweet plantain. I went with the day's special of succulent and crispy mahi mahi tacos.

If you've got any space left for dessert, go for the signature caramelized banana split, which differs from the split you know in that the bananas are sauteed in a caramel sauce. And of course, they do make a mean Piña Colada.

If you want a (slightly different) taste of home, or simply feel like having hearty and tasty comfort food, you'll probably like what Piña Colada Club has to offer. It's not the place to go for a taste of authentic 'Rican cooking. But I kinda wish I had a diner like it in my neighborhood.

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