In comparison to my daytime budget friendly restaurants, my dining experience in Puerto Rico wasn’t exactly the best. Apart from a couple exceptional restaurants, I found a lot of items extremely salty. Pikayo and Dragonfly are the two restaurants that really stand out – delicious food, excellent service and overall great atmosphere. If you want to get a sense of authentic Puerto Rican food, I recommend eating at some of the budget friendly places I suggested on my last post – Where to Eat on a Budget in Puerto Rico. However, if you’re looking for a romantic dining experience, then look no further. Enjoy!
1. Pikayo @ The Condado Plaza Hilton
A culinary experience at Pikayo. Outstanding dining experience, presentation, and service. The complimentary bread and honey butter are delectable. Enjoyed a Chef’s Tasting with Wine Pairings – some portions are smaller than usual.
Apertif & Complimentary Bread & Butter
Champagne: I loved this champagne – Henriot Rose Brut. Light, crisp, slightly tart and smooth.
Mango Gazpacho: Cold, sweet, & delicious. Incredibly flavorful with a prominent flavor of mango and cucumber. A favorite!
Bread & Honey Butter: The sweet and creamy butter was made with local honey, white sesame seeds and butter. Fresh tasting and a favorite!
Pikadera (left to right)
Pear ravioli in Gorgonzola Sauce: Simultaneously sweet and savory. The Gorgonzola sauce wasn’t overpowering the dish which was good as I’m not a fan of Gorgonzola. Note – this dish is not on the menu.
Truffle Cheese “Empanadillas” with Truffle “Mojito”: Black truffle cheese in a creole sauce. Flavored well.
Gouda Cheese Parisenne with Guava Sauce: A combo of cheese and guava. The gouda cheese simply melts in your mouth. Soft, delicious, gooey and buttery. A favorite!
”Pegao” Tuna with Chipotle Mayonnaise: Crispy and tasty. Light and flavorful. Very good.
Cold Kitchen & Hot Small Dishes
Thinly Sliced Octopus: The octopus was so incredibly tender and flavorsome. The balsamic flavor was prominent in this dish and paired exceptionally well with the sweet granny smith apples. Beautiful presentation! A favorite!
Foie Gras: Foie gras sitting over a sweet plantain. The black truffle honey complemented this dish well as it paired with the salty foie gras. A very rich dish! Although I am not a fan of foie gras, I recommend this dish if you enjoy the delicacy.
From the Ocean
Jumbo Shrimp: Mashed root vegetable prepared in a white sauce was smooth and buttery. The perfectly charred shrimp sat over a bed of delicious mashed potatoes. This dish was slightly sour since sauerkraut was incorporated into the dish instead of the usual chorizo.
South American Sea Bass: The sea bass was perfection and melts in your mouth. The creamy and buttery polenta had texture and is incredible combined with smoked oven dried tomato puree. Absolutely divine! A favorite!
Chocolate Soufflé: Between the two soufflés, the chocolate soufflé was my favorite and a safer option. The soufflé was light and airy and paired impeccably with a vanilla sauce off to the side. A favorite.
Cheese Soufflé: A sweet and savory dessert that paired with a guava sauce. This dessert was a Puerto Rican spin on traditional soufflé which incorporates manchego, parmesan and cream cheeses. The cheese soufflé was unique and tasty, but a little too cheesy for me. My friend preferred this soufflé over the chocolate so it really depends what you prefer.
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Pikayo
CUISINE: International/Puerto Rican/Fusion
FAVORITES: Mango Gazpacho | Complimentary Bread & Honey Butter | Gouda Cheese Parisenne with Guava Sauce | Thinly Sliced Octopus | South American Sea Bass | Chocolate Soufflé
VERDICT: 4.75 / 5
Pikayo was the BEST dining experience in Puerto Rico and one of the best restaurants I have ever been to – you guys know I don’t just say that. Chef Wilo Benet is a genius and brilliantly paired concoctions that you would least expect. He truly has a passion for food and it reflects in the dishes he prepares at Pikayo. There was not a single bad dish, everything was very good or outstanding. I dined at Pikayo on a Monday night and it was pretty packed, I can’t even imagine how busy this restaurant must get during the weekends. Furthermore, the service here was stellar. If you wanna splurge on that one special night, this is the restaurant you should absolutely dine at when in Puerto Rico.
Food: Outstanding | Drinks: Outstanding | Décor: Classy/Elegant | Service: Stellar/Outstanding | Value: Pricey
LOCATION: Ashford Avenue 999, San Juan, Puerto Rico (condado)
Sexy, lounge atmosphere that serves Latin-Asian cuisine. Delicious sushi rolls with a Puerto Rican spin on it. Thursday is ladies night!
Cocktails (left to right)
Dragon Punch: A concoction of guava, passion fruit, ginger punch with Limón rum. A bold ginger flavor with a subtle passion fruit flavor. Delicious and a favorite.
Dragonfire Martini: Vodka blended with fresh lemon-lime juice, jalapeno and with a splash of guava. The jalapeno definitely hits you and the guava flavor is subtle. Amazing cocktail. A favorite.
Sushi Bar (top to bottom)
Godzilla Roll: Tempura shrimp, cream cheese, avocado, spicy mayo and jalapeno. This roll was made for me as this is exactly what I would want in my sushi. The Godzilla roll had a slight kick which I loved. I requested less cream cheese and it was perfect. A favorite!
Coco Dream Roll: Tempura shrimp, cream cheese, jalapeno, mango, creamy coconut, sake sauce and topped with snapper. I describe the Coco Dream Roll as an Asian Latin dream because essentially it’s Asian and Latin flavors married together into one roll. This roll was a combo of sweet and spicy, you can definitely taste the mango. Succulent. A favorite.
Tantalizers & Signature Platos (left to right)
Angry Chicken Dumplings: Spicy pan seared chicken filled dumplings prepared in a plum sauce. The dumplings were not light, but rather more doughy. The chicken had a hint of spice, but the sauce was too sweet. Although the chicken filling inside was very good, the doughy dumpling overpowered the actual filling.
Chino Latino Lo Mein: Lo mein stir fried with fried chicken and vegetables. The chicken was lightly fried and perfectly cooked. The noodles were perfect and I loved the generous portion of veggies – snow peas, carrots, broccoli, and onions to name a few. The cilantro and fried chicken gives this dish that Latin flare. Overall, an oily dish which is expected with lo mein, but also very delicious. Note – this is half a portion. A favorite!
Coffee & Sweets
Cafe con Leche: Good. Solid cup.
Dragon Lava Cake: Molten chocolate cake with caramelized pecans, coconut ice-cream and salted caramel sauce. The sweet coconut ice-cream perfectly complements the ‘not-so-sweet’ dark chocolate cake and pecans. The cake itself was warm and moist, however there was no hot chocolate lava oozing out. Regardless, still out of this world! A favorite.
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Dragonfly
FAVORITES: Dragon Punch | Dragonfire Martini | Godzilla Roll | Coco Dream Roll | Dragon Lava Cake
VERDICT: 4.5 / 5
I was very pleasanatly surprised with Dragonfly, keep in mind though this place is fusion, and thus you can’t go in expecting traditional sushi. The food here has Puerto Rican influence so you’ll find coconut and mango flavors in your sushi which I appreciated. The atmosphere is sexy, lounge-like, and it makes a great date spot or a fun night out with the girls. Reminder – Thursday is ladies night!
Food: Excellent | Drinks: Outstanding | Décor: Sexy/Trendy | Service: Excellent | Value: Good Value/Fair
LOCATION: Calle Fortaleza 364, San Juan, Puerto Rico (old san juan)
3. Toro Salao
A haven for sangria lovers! Delicious tapas!
Specialty Sangrias (left to right)
Toro Sangria: Red Sangria. Delicious, yet strong. Subtle flavor of orange juice. Second favorite.
Sangria Blanca: White Sangria. Strong, yet light and crisp. A prominent flavor of cucumber. Third favorite.
Tropical Passion Sangria: Fruity and so delicious, you can definitely taste the passion fruit. My favorite!
Ibiza Fizz Sangria: Fruity and flavored with champagne. Fizzy, strong, my least favorite.
Tapas & Appetizers
Empanadillas de Pollo y Chorizo: The chicken empanadas with chorizo were smoky, flavorful, and delicious with a delectable and garlicky chipotle sauce. A favorite.
Pastas Bravas con Aioli de Chorizo: Potatoes with Spanish chorizo and aioli was a bit dissapointing because it needed more sauce and salt. Having said that, the potatoes were tender and perfectly cooked.
Croquetas de Jamon Serrano: A best seller at Toro Salao, the ham croquettes with a guava glaze at the bottom was excellent. Each bite was a combination of salty, creamy and sweet flavors. Creamy, cheesy and buttery! A favorite!
Paella del Toro (half portion): The paella consisted of seafood, chicken and chorizo. The seafood was cooked perfectly and was tender and the dish was flavorful, however it was quite salty.
Mahi Mahi a la Plancha: In addition to being a little dry, the mahi-mahi was extremely salty to the point where it was not edible. WIth that said, the vegetables were delicious, buttery and so full of flavor. Sadly though, the main entree failed to deliver.
Flan: The flan was incredible with a creamy, custard consistency. The berries on top added depths of flavor and that sauce on the bottom was not too sweet. Perfectly balanced! A favorite.
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Toro Salao
FAVORITES: Tropical Passion Sangria | Toro Sangria | Empanadillas de Pollo y Chorizo | Croquetas de Jamon Serrano | Flan
VERDICT: 4 / 5
The vibe at Toro Salao is romantic and laid-back, especially if you can be seated outside. Since it was windy on the night I dined here, I chose to dine indoors. The entrees at Toro Salao were a letdown for me, however the sangria, tapas and dessert more than made up for it. Be sure to check out Toro Salao on a Saturday night when they offer live music.
Food: Very Good | Drinks: Outstanding | Décor: Romantic/Casual | Service: Good | Value: Good Value/Fair
LOCATION: Calle Tetuan 367, San Juan, Puerto Rico (old san juan)
4. Ola Ocean Front Bistro @ The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel
Great ocean view restaurant! I still dream about those churros!
Picadera & Salads
Shrimp, Avocado, Cilantro Tartine: The tartine was delicious, juicy, creamy with perfectly cooked shrimp on top, however it was a teeny bit salty.
Arugula Salad (small): Arugula, sunflower sprouts, pea shoots, crispy plantain and parmesan. To my dismay, this dish consisted of tortilla chips, and not crispy plantain chips. The peppery arugula was nice, however it was overwhelmingly salty especially when combined with the generous portion of Parmesan. Disappointing!
The Grill & Special of the Day
Atlantic Salmon: The salmon was cooked perfectly and tender, but again, the salmon was salty. The quinoa which was flavored in a sofrito-cilantro based sauce was truly disappointing because it was overly salty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get through this dish – not edible.
Special of the Day – Arroz con Costillas (ribs with rice): The ribs were flavorful and tender, however the rice was quite oily. The beans to the side were the best part of this dish as they were loaded with flavor. This dish was okay.
Coffee & Desserts
Americano: Perfect, solid cup of coffee. Well-made. A favorite!
Naranja Scented Churros: The churros arrived hot and were crisp on the outside with a soft and gooey interior. The churros came with a side of vanilla ice-cream and three different sauces, my favorites were the chocolate and caramel sauces. Outstanding dessert! A favorite!
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Ola Ocean Front Bistro
FAVORITES: Americano | Naranja Scented Churros
VERDICT: 3 / 5
Since I lodged at The Condado Vanderbilt and was super impressed with the hotel, I decided to dine at Ola Ocean Front Bistro given the beautiful ocean view, but unfortunately the food wasn’t up to par with my expectations. I found most items to be rather salty, and some items were just not edible, particularly the Arugula Salad and Grilled Salmon. While the service here was painfully slow, our waiter was extremely kind and knowledgeable. The silver lining at Ola were the churros and Americano. Should you consider to dine at Ola, I recommend stopping by for breakfast, lunch or dinner so that you can take full advantage of the ocean front view indoors or outdoors.
Food: Average | Drinks: n/a | Décor: Casual | Service: Friendly/Painfully Slow | Value: Good Value
LOCATION: Avenida Ashford Ave 1055, San Juan, Puerto Rico (condado)
Have you been to Puerto Rico? What was your favorite restaurant?