Remezcla Guide: San Juan

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New York-based cosmopolatinos with roots en la isla flock to San Juan when they want to escape the city’s chaos, visit their friends or see their families. If you don’t know anybody who lives here, chances are you will be forced to eat at overpriced fusion restaurants or fast-food joints, hang out at bars that are still into trip-hop and where their idea of high-fashion is anything that sparkles and has spandex (and i’m not talking about cute American Apparel lamé leggings…) and shop at outlet stores or shopping malls.

The reality is that San Juan, and Puerto Rico in general, offers locals many cool places to eat, let loose and shop that are easy on the budget. Of course these places are barely or never mentioned in general tourist guides. I hope you enjoy, and find the off-the beaten path recommendations helpful in this this first installment of the Remezcla Guide : San Juan.
More suggestions to come, and if I know you (yes, Myspace counts), don’t fret to ask for a free place to stay.

So, pack your bathing suits, skinny jeans, leggings and over-sized sunglasses, book the next available Jet-Blue non-stop flight (sometimes for under $250!) and head down to Puelto Lico. Don’t worry about bringing sunscreen, it’s cheaper here anyway.


If you are planning on dieting while on vacation in Puerto Rico, my condolences. One of the best excuses for over-eating is coming to any of these spots in the San Juan area for a taste of the local or international, but overpriced, grub. The city offers demasiados amazing restaurants, cafetínes, and panaderías that are difficult to narrow down to just a handful. Choosing only four restaurant to remezclar was no easy task, but any of these places will leave you satisfied, without crushing your wallet. So, leave all Atkins, South Beach, low-carb, no-carb, vegan-ovo-lactean BS back in los nuyores. Don’t worry about it; you’ll walk it off as soon as you go back home.

Plaza del Mercado, Río Piedras
Paseo de Diego, Río Piedras
6AM – 4PM
Tren Urbano to Río Piedras Station

Pay the $3 round-trip ride at the Tren Urbano and head towards the Río Piedras station to Plaza del Mercado to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, cheap souvenirs, brujería and santería parnaphernalia and icons, and the best puertorican food you will ever eat for under $7, food coma included. My personal favorite is El Rincón Criollo where Inginia is always there to greet you with a smile and give you the biggest plate of arroz con habichuelas, with your selection of fish, meat, chicken, plus tostones and if in season, a complimentary slice of fresh avocado. If you feel like you need to satisfy your sweet tooth go to Mrs. Batidas for one of their delicious fresh mango, banana or strawberry milkshakes made with tons of black sugar or smoothies.

Taquería Azteca
52 Ave. Universidad, Río Piedras
Tren Urbano to Universidad Station
Monday – Friday 11 AM-8PM
Saturday 11 AM-5PM

The other day over nachos, my best friend Marina and I were saying that Mexican food (not men) is the international soul food. No matter where you travel, there is always a good Mexican place to eat and Taquería Azteca is no exception. Located in the heart of Santa Rita, the Universidad de Puerto Ricos’ (“la Uuu Piii”) neighboorhood, thi Mexican-owned Taquería is where I always head for my  fix if I’m in the area and don’t want the usual .99¢ Bean Burrito from Taco Maker (which is my guilty pleasure). Try the Burritos Pastor, Tacos de Lengua, Caldo Tlalpeño, oh, and don’t forget the Jarrito de Tamarindo.

51 María Moczo, Ocean Park
Monday-Wednesday 7am-4pm
Thursday-Saturday 7am-4pm
Sunday 7am-6:30pm
Call 727-3347 for Deliveries (to the beach, your hotel, or to your bed)

Pinky’s is the best place for a late-morning, or early-afternoon brunch before heading out to the Ocean Park beach to frolic under the hot, hot San Juan sun. The menu is healthy, but it makes you wonder if healthy food can taste so good. With names like the Porno Surfer, a double-sized grilled turkey, genoa salami and swiss sandwich with fresh basil and pesto mayo, (or in a wrap with papaya vinagrette), Eat Me (if you can) and the Bondage Burrito it will make you want to eat more than just your Sashimi Wrap dipped in their yummy homemade vinagrettes. Ask for Rosanna for some extra TLC. Don’t forget to order a Classic Shake, which fresh papaya and banana mixed with your choice of milk or juice and brown sugar to sip as you check out Pinky’s hot owner, Alex García. The take-out menu promises that you can eat him too.

The Burger Joint
1106 Ashford Ave., Condado
Monday-Saturday 12PM-10PM
Sunday 1PM-8PM
Limited Delivery, call 787-725-2899

After a day of pure banality in our mini faux-South Beach, Condado, treat yourself to a burger from the Burger Joint and if you’re lucky, an extra dose of eye candy courtesy of Jorge, the tanned and tattooed owner. All burgers are made fresh on the spot, the vegetables are organic and their bread is baked daily. Order their Roquefort Burger, a 100% Angus beef burger stuffed with Roquefort cheese and roasted garlic, or if you’re feeling guilty after eating so much Puerto Rican delicacies,  order a Tuna Burger or their veggie Rainbow Burger with a side of beer-battered onion rings.