While Isla Verde has some excellent hotels, a fantastic beach, and a roaring nightlife, I haven't been as impressed with its dining options. Along the main Isla Verde Avenue, there's a notable lack of great eateries. And most of the good ones are found in the hotels.
Still, you do have some solid choices when you want to dine in this part of town. Two iconic steakhouses, a homey Peruvian restaurant, and a healthy dash of 'Rican cooking make my list of restaurants in Isla Verde.
1. BLT Steak
BLT is a rather elite chain of steak houses that more than lives up to its lofty name. If you love steak, the porterhouse is a must-try here, and even if you don't, there's enough on the chalkboard menu to satisfy. Even the signature popovers are a cut above most bread service options.
Beyond the quality of the food, I found the staff at BLT to be very knowledgeable and attentive. Just remember, as one of the flagship restaurants at the Ritz, it won't be a cheap meal.
Is it weird to follow one steak house with another? Perhaps, but you can't deny the quality of the products at Ruth's Chris. Even if they are relatively prevalent stateside, there's no harm in sampling the one at the Intercontinental Hotel in Isla Verde, where the Caribbean lobster surf 'n turf is a perfect pairing of sizzling filet with the buttery lobster meat found in these waters. Plus, the barbecued shrimp from the bayou are absolutely delicious, and the atmosphere has "classic steak house" written all over it.
Ceviche House is about as authentic a Peruvian meal as you'll find in Puerto Rico. Start your meal with a bowl of cancha, or toasted and salted Peruvian corn, and follow up with one of the variety of ceviches that give the place its name and its reputation. Eschewing fusion of any sort, the ceviche here is prepared simply, focusing on the fresh flavor of the fish or seafood and the tangy zest of lemon marinade.
If you want something a bit heartier, go for the pescado a lo macho, a massive plate that combines a large fillet with all manner of seafood heaped on top. It's a tasty, filling entree.
Koco is more than just a culinary tribute to the coconut (although it's certainly a revered ingredient); it's a place to come for tasty, Caribbean fusion fine dining in a sleek and sexy setting. From the Koconut shrimp to the coconut-infused house dessert, you'll find a tropical touch in every plate.
Add the very well stocked rum bar, the friendly staff, and the location right outside the casino at the El San Juan, and Koco makes for a satisfying night out.
5. Blu Guayaba
Blu Guayaba offers that wonderful culinary trifecta: good food, at reasonable prices, offered by an amiable staff. Chef Alexis Torres knows what he's doing in the kitchen, and he brings a welcome element of whimsy and playfulness to his menu. The funky decor only reinforces the vibe at Blu, where you can snack on flavorful and mildly spiced chicken drumsticks (instead of wings), try the papaya-and-guayaba chimichurri marinated steak, and finish off your singular meal with a neon blue creme brulee.
On barren Isla Verde Avenue, it's a welcome option for those who want to dine outside the hotel.
The most authentically Puerto Rican restaurant on this list, Platos, located at the Coral by the Sea Hotel, doesn't mess around. With its menu of mofongos, chillo entero and paellas (ok, a nod to the Spanish there), it focuses on island cooking. And the mofongo is quite good, if slightly on the expensive side for local fare.
Still, if it's pure Puerto Rican food you crave, Platos will oblige. It also has a menu of steaks, at steakhouse prices.