Where to Eat on a Budget in Puerto Rico? The food in Puerto Rico is phenomenal, but I also love Caribbean and Latin flavors so perhaps I'm slightly biased. Mofongo is a local specialty here which is essentially fried and mashed plantains that are stuffed with either chicken, shrimp, beef, pork or veggies. The mofongo is then topped off with some kind of sauce, typically a creole or garlic sauce. Personally, I enjoyed the local food at cafes and bakeries far more than the upscale restaurants. You don't need to dine at fancy restaurants to truly experience delicious Puerto Rican flavors. Leave your diets at home when in this island of enchantment where the food here is typically not healthy. When in Puerto Rico, definitely try arroz con pollo (chicken with rice), frijoles negros (black bean soup), empanadas, tostones (fried plantains), maduros sweet plantains), flan (custard), mallorca (Puerto Rican sweet bread), cafe con leche (Puerto Rican coffee), and of course a mofongo without which your trip to Puerto Rico would be incomplete. Enjoy!
1. La Bombonera
Over a 100 years old, a bakery that once again re-opened its doors in 2016. The ham and cheese mallorca is unreal.
Cafe con Leche: Traditional Puerto Rican coffee. Good coffee with a slight burnt flavor. I've had La Bombonera coffee in the past and it was better.
Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice: Good, fresh.
Ham & Cheese Mallorca Sandwich: Ham and cheese sandwiched between soft and sweet Puerto Rican bread, and grilled. Excellent. A favorite!
Plain Mallorca: This was good, but it would have tasted better if it was heated.
RESTAURANT REVIEW: La Bombonera
FAVORITES: Ham & Cheese Mallorca
VERDICT: 4 / 5
I visited La Bombonera a few years ago, and the coffee was definitely better in the past. Since La Bombonera is one of the oldest bakeries in San Juan, it would make sense to at least stop by for a mallorca. The ham and cheese mallorca is a must-do.
Food: Excellent | Drinks: Very Good| Décor: Casual | Service: Friendly/Painfully Slow |Value: Cheap/Reasonable
LOCATION: Calle San Francisco 259, San Juan, Puerto Rico (Old San Juan)
2. Punto de Vista Restaurant @ Hotel Milano
Best mofongo in Puerto Rico with rooftop views of Old San Juan.
Mango Mojito & Coconut Mojito: Both were excellent and well made, but I preferred the mango to the coconut. Also, during Happy Hour cocoktails are buy one get one free.
Chicken & Shrimp Mofongo: Grilled chicken and shrimp mofongo topped with a creamy garlic cilantro sauce was spectacular. Best mofongo on the trip. A favorite!
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Punto de Vista
CUISINE: Puerto Rican
FAVORITES: Mango Mojito | Chicken & Shrimp Mofongo
VERDICT: 5 / 5
Punto de Vista has amazing Puerto Rican food. Take advantage of the Happy Hour where you buy one get one mojitos for just $8. The vibe here is cool with barrel chairs all over which add a lot of character. My only regret is not stopping by here for dinner and indulging in more Puerto Rican food.
Food: Excellent | Drinks: Outstanding| Décor: Casual/Relaxed | Service: Friendly |Value: Reasonable
LOCATION: Hotel Milano, Calle Fortaleza 307, San Juan, Puerto Rico (Old San Juan)
3. Pinky’s West
Cheap and good breakfast spot in Condado.
Mallorca Breakfast Sandwich: Traditionally made with ham and eggs, I requested this sandwich be made with turkey and egg whites. Egg whites, turkey and swiss cheese on mallorca bread. Although this sandwich was good, it would have been amazing if the sandwich was grilled.
Cafe con Leche: This tasted more like cappuccino and less like traditional Puerto Rican coffee.
The Classic Smoothie: Fresh papaya and banana blended with cinnamon, milk and brown sugar. This was good, but had a strong cinnamon flavor.
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Pinky’s West
VERDICT: 3.5 / 5
Pinky’s a good breakfast spot in Condado where you can find cheap eats. The smoothies made with real fruit are very reasonable priced at $4 or less.
Food: Good | Drinks: Good | Décor: Casual/Relaxed | Service: Friendly |Value: Cheap/Reasonable
LOCATION: Ashford Avenue 1104, San Juan, Puerto Rico (Condado)
Delicious & healthy cafe with lots of great smoothie options.
Cafe con Leche: The coffee here was very good.
Acai Bowl with 3 choices of fruit: I made my own Acai Bowl here with almond milk, blueberry, banana and papaya fruits, topped with almond butter and granola. The acai bowl was good and filling.
Papayadise: Divine smoothie prepared with papaya, banana, soy milk and brown sugar. One of the best smoothies I’ve ever had. A favorite.
Fish Tacos: The fish was grilled, however the tacos were quite salty and loaded with cole slaw.
RESTAURANT REVIEW: BaJuice
CUISINE: Juice Bars/Smoothies/Breakfast
VERDICT: 4 / 5
The Papayadise smoothie was out of this world. This place is great for fresh, delicious and healthy smoothies. The acai bowl was also very good, but I’ve had better. A great health food spot in Condado.
Food: Good | Drinks: Outstanding | Décor: Casual | Service: Helpful |Value: Reasonable
LOCATION: 1125 Ashford Avenue, San Juan, Puerto Rico
5. Crush Juice Bar
A healthy spot for acai and smoothies with loads of options.
Coco Surfer Acai Bowl: Organic acai blended with some almond milk (requested) and mixed in with strawberries, blueberries, and banana. The bowl is then topped off with shredded coconut and granola. I also requested some almond butter in my bowl. This heavenly bowl came out to a whopping $11, and the portion was rather small. A favorite.
Strawberry Banana Frappe: Yogurt blended with strawberry, banana and honey.
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Crush Juice Bar
CUISINE: Juice Bars/Smoothies
FAVORITES: Coco Surfer Acai Bowl
VERDICT: 4 / 5
Although the acai bowl was divine, the portion was small and the price was high, $11 to be exact. For that price, I can get a much larger acai bowl in New York City, and thus the prices at Crush Juice Bar (with customizations) totally threw me off. BaJuice in Condado is at the same level and you’ll get better value for your money, but the acai bowl I had at Crush Juice Bar was better than BaJuice.
Food: Outstanding | Drinks: Excellent | Décor: Casual | Service: Good |Value: Reasonable/Small Portions
LOCATION: 1374 Ashford Ave., San Juan, Puerto Rico
6. La Familia Bakery 2
Ultra cheap and delicious food! The vanilla flan is disturbingly good.
Ham & Cheese Sandwich: This sandwich made with sweet bread was insanely good. There was so much cheddar cheese, OMG! A favorite!
Vanilla Flan: The vanilla flan was light and creamy and so delicious. The vanilla caramel flavors complimented the custard perfectly. A favorite!
Cafe con Leche: Well made, hit the spot.
Sweet Bread Roll: I loved the sweet bread so much that I bought some to go for just $1.50 and had it for breakfast the next day. This bread was incredibly soft. A favorite!
RESTAURANT REVIEW: La Familia Bakery 2
FAVORITES: Ham & Cheese Sandwich | Sweet Bread | Vanilla Flan
VERDICT: 4.75 / 5
You will definitely get value for your money at La Familia. The sandwich and dessert was so good, I wish I could have tried more desserts, but I didn’t wanna overdo it. Definitely grab a sweet bread roll to go!
Food: Excellent | Drinks: Excellent | Décor: Casual | Service: Friendly |Value: Ultra Cheap
LOCATION: Calle 1 A9, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
7. Mi Vida Cafe & Burger
Stopped by on our way to El Yunque. The best empandas and mofongo sandwich! A must-do!
Cafe con Leche: This was more like a latte. Still very good.
Baked Chicken Empanada: Made with virtually no oil and stuffed with shredded chicken, this empanada was unreal and my favorite item at Mi Vida Cafe & Burger. I regret not buying a couple for our hike up to El Yunque. A favorite!
Sweet Potato & Vegetables Veggie Mofongo Burger: The sweet potato and vegetable patty was delicious. Mofongo was used in place of bread. The sandwich comprised of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles. I felt as though I was eating a beef burger. Delectable! A favorite!
Fries: The side of fries was so good, I especially loved the garlic, cilantro, jalapeno white sauce on the side. Yum! A favorite!
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Mi Vida Cafe & Burger
FAVORITES: Baked Chicken Empanada | Sweet Potato & Vegetables Veggie Mofongo Burger | Fries
VERDICT: 5 / 5
Mi Vida Cafe & Burger was my favorite budget eats restaurant in Puerto Rico. The food here is outrageously delicious and the service is super friendly. This place is on your way to El Yunque, so it’s definitely worth stopping here for a quick bite before the hike.
Food: Outstanding | Drinks: Outstanding| Décor: Casual/Relaxed | Service: Friendly/Warm |Value: Cheap/Reasonable
LOCATION: Calle Principal 5, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
8. Cafe Cafe Cocina Criolla Espresso Bar (CLOSED)
Best cafe con leche on the entire trip and best place to eat when in Ponce.
Pechuga Salvador (Mofongo de Amarillo): Essentially this dish was a grilled chicken breast topped with creole sauce over a bed of mofongo. The chicken was okay, I prefer traditional mofongo to this version.
Mofongo Relleno de Camarones (Shrimp Mofongo): Plantains stuffed with shrimp and topped with a garlicky cilantro sauce. This dish tasted homemade and was incredible. A favorite!
Arroz (Rice): So delicious and simple.
Tostones (plantains): This was okay for me, it was a bit dry and lacked the garlic butter flavor I was hoping for.
Cafe con Leche: Best cafe con leche on the entire trip. Perfectly creamy and didn’t taste like a latte. A favorite!
Espresso Iced Caramel Latte Cafe: Essentially an iced version of cafe con leche with a little caramel syrup. Not overly sweet and very well made. A favorite!
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Cafe Cafe Cocina Criolla Espresso Bar
CUISINE: Puerto Rican/Caribbean
FAVORITES: Cafe con Leche | Espresso Iced Caramel Latte Cafe | Mofongo Relleno de Camarones | Arroz
VERDICT: 4.5 / 5
Best cafe con Leche on the island, so if you’re visiting Ponce, it’s definitely worth stopping at Cafe Cafe. The shrimp mofongo was sensational and didn’t taste oily at all. The food here is definitely fresh and tastes homemade, and so expect to wait a little while for your food which didn't really bother me. You're in the Caribbean after all.
Food: Excellent | Drinks: Outstanding | Décor: Casual/Relaxed | Service: Friendly/Warm/Slow | Value: Reasonable
LOCATION: Calle Aurora 2638, Ponce, Puerto Rico