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Blue Room's Guidebook

Marianne

Blue Room's Guidebook

WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
In this section, we single out the places near the 'Blue Room' whose food, drinks, service, and ambiance have made us return time and again. They are our favorite places to eat and are listed in no particular order.
Barrachina is located in an old but well-conserved Spanish building steps away from 'The Blue Room'. It has served local fare for over 40 years and it's, therefore, a reliable place to try out Puerto Rican specialties. This is also the place where the famed Pina Colada drink was supposedly invented. Whether or not this is to be believed, the truth is they make a consistently delicious concoction here. Try also the Frozen Mojito, my husband's favorite. Don't forget to ask for Gladys at the bar.
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Barrachina
104 Calle Fortaleza
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Barrachina is located in an old but well-conserved Spanish building steps away from 'The Blue Room'. It has served local fare for over 40 years and it's, therefore, a reliable place to try out Puerto Rican specialties. This is also the place where the famed Pina Colada drink was supposedly invented. Whether or not this is to be believed, the truth is they make a consistently delicious concoction here. Try also the Frozen Mojito, my husband's favorite. Don't forget to ask for Gladys at the bar.
This is a very small restaurant, with about 6-7 tables. It only opens from morning to just about 4 pm. But its food is delicious, made in their open kitchen right behind their counter, for all to see. My husband Pedro believes it has the best expresso coffee in all of San Juan. I personally think their pastries are the best (try their Naranja Cake!). Don't forget to buy a loaf of their heavenly bread. Two very amicable ladies (both called katia) do the servicing.
Spiga Café
258 Calle San Justo
This is a very small restaurant, with about 6-7 tables. It only opens from morning to just about 4 pm. But its food is delicious, made in their open kitchen right behind their counter, for all to see. My husband Pedro believes it has the best expresso coffee in all of San Juan. I personally think their pastries are the best (try their Naranja Cake!). Don't forget to buy a loaf of their heavenly bread. Two very amicable ladies (both called katia) do the servicing.
This place is certainly worth the 5-block walk from the 'Blue Room' as the pizza is delicious! And it's located in a beautiful, well-preserved Spanish building. Be sure to ask for a table in the second floor: you'll be amazed by the brick walls and tall ceilings. But, again, the food is what makes it all worth it.
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Pirilo
207 Calle Tanca
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This place is certainly worth the 5-block walk from the 'Blue Room' as the pizza is delicious! And it's located in a beautiful, well-preserved Spanish building. Be sure to ask for a table in the second floor: you'll be amazed by the brick walls and tall ceilings. But, again, the food is what makes it all worth it.
Two delightful sisters manage this tapas and wine place. It's off the beaten path, in a residential and leafy street, but just one block away from the 'Blue Room'. Try their sangria (wine seasoned with fruits and sweet liqueur) and their tortilla (an egg omelet with potatoes). We have also tried their saucy lamb cotelettes. Delicious!
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Rosa de Triana
72 Caleta de San Juan
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Two delightful sisters manage this tapas and wine place. It's off the beaten path, in a residential and leafy street, but just one block away from the 'Blue Room'. Try their sangria (wine seasoned with fruits and sweet liqueur) and their tortilla (an egg omelet with potatoes). We have also tried their saucy lamb cotelettes. Delicious!
This is, without a doubt, the best taco place in San Juan. It's about 4 blocks away from the 'Blue Room' but you'll find the walk rewarding. Ask for Carlos: he's the manager and is behind the bar. He makes a killer Margarita! I suggest having 'tacos al pastor' or 'tacos de carnitas'. I will not describe them here because I don't want to drool.
LA GÜERITA
204 Calle San Justo
This is, without a doubt, the best taco place in San Juan. It's about 4 blocks away from the 'Blue Room' but you'll find the walk rewarding. Ask for Carlos: he's the manager and is behind the bar. He makes a killer Margarita! I suggest having 'tacos al pastor' or 'tacos de carnitas'. I will not describe them here because I don't want to drool.
This is a great fast-food place for soup and a sandwich. They also serve breakfast. Its air-conditioned premises make it a favorite of over-heated locals.
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El Meson Sandwiches
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This is a great fast-food place for soup and a sandwich. They also serve breakfast. Its air-conditioned premises make it a favorite of over-heated locals.
This restaurant was founded in 1902. Isabel, granddaughter of the founder, and her husband Jose run the place. Upon entering, you will think you are in one of those New York Deli's, with stools along the large counter and booths next to the wall. But they serve local fare and Spanish bakery. It's a great place to have breakfast and meet locals over a cup of chocolate.
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La Bombonera
259 Calle San Francisco
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This restaurant was founded in 1902. Isabel, granddaughter of the founder, and her husband Jose run the place. Upon entering, you will think you are in one of those New York Deli's, with stools along the large counter and booths next to the wall. But they serve local fare and Spanish bakery. It's a great place to have breakfast and meet locals over a cup of chocolate.
This is a small bar with great ambiance, literally just around the corner from the 'Blue Room'. The bar is known to be a great place to have rum-based cocktails but one glance at the bar and you understand that they serve any alcoholic drink under the San Juan sun. Alex is the owner and he makes a fantastic mojito. My husband and I really like his 'parcha mojito', which comes in a tall glass full of fruit (and rum). Its drinks are known to be abundant and expensive. In the weekends, his wife prepares very nice chicken quesadillas.
Marilyn's Place
100 Calle San Francisco
This is a small bar with great ambiance, literally just around the corner from the 'Blue Room'. The bar is known to be a great place to have rum-based cocktails but one glance at the bar and you understand that they serve any alcoholic drink under the San Juan sun. Alex is the owner and he makes a fantastic mojito. My husband and I really like his 'parcha mojito', which comes in a tall glass full of fruit (and rum). Its drinks are known to be abundant and expensive. In the weekends, his wife prepares very nice chicken quesadillas.
If you are ready to spend big bucks on a delightful, memorable, gourmet Italian dinner, this is your place. And it's just two doors from our building! Franco Seccarelli is the owner and chef. The restaurant is in a revamped Spanish courtyard that by itself is worth a visit.
La Lanterna by Franco Seccarelli
202 Calle del Cristo
If you are ready to spend big bucks on a delightful, memorable, gourmet Italian dinner, this is your place. And it's just two doors from our building! Franco Seccarelli is the owner and chef. The restaurant is in a revamped Spanish courtyard that by itself is worth a visit.
Better known as ‘El Hamberguito’ (Spanish for ‘The Little Hamburger’), this is a no-frills joint that is very popular with locals. Nothing fancy here but it’s always packed thanks to its great-tasting burgers and fries. The location is great: you could eat and then cross the street to the sidewalk with view to the ocean and the old city walls. Of all the places recommended here, this is the only one we would advise you take an Uber to go. Walking would take you 45 minutes.
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El Hamburger
402 Ave Muñoz Rivera
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Better known as ‘El Hamberguito’ (Spanish for ‘The Little Hamburger’), this is a no-frills joint that is very popular with locals. Nothing fancy here but it’s always packed thanks to its great-tasting burgers and fries. The location is great: you could eat and then cross the street to the sidewalk with view to the ocean and the old city walls. Of all the places recommended here, this is the only one we would advise you take an Uber to go. Walking would take you 45 minutes.
This is the place to eat if you want a quiet, candlelight dinner with authentic Italian food. It's just 3 blocks away from the 'Blue Room' and is part of the Decanter hotel, located on a side street to the Cathedral. They have all kinds of pasta and their wine selection is impressive.
L'Osteria Decanter
106 Calle San José
This is the place to eat if you want a quiet, candlelight dinner with authentic Italian food. It's just 3 blocks away from the 'Blue Room' and is part of the Decanter hotel, located on a side street to the Cathedral. They have all kinds of pasta and their wine selection is impressive.
La Placita de Santurce is a small plaza located outside of the Old City, but not too far. There are many restaurants and bars around the plaza, which serves as a fresh market during the day. There are two places we have tried and will appear next in the list
La Placita de Santurce
260 Calle dos Hermanos
La Placita de Santurce is a small plaza located outside of the Old City, but not too far. There are many restaurants and bars around the plaza, which serves as a fresh market during the day. There are two places we have tried and will appear next in the list
This is, in our view, one of the best seafood restaurants in San Juan. Spanish style menu, with the fresh fish available that day displayed as in a fresh market. The food is great, the service is too. You may have to wait a bit if you get there during peak hours, but you can do so with a nice Sangria or the drink of your choice.
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Tasca el Pescador
178 Cll Dos Hermanos
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This is, in our view, one of the best seafood restaurants in San Juan. Spanish style menu, with the fresh fish available that day displayed as in a fresh market. The food is great, the service is too. You may have to wait a bit if you get there during peak hours, but you can do so with a nice Sangria or the drink of your choice.
The food here is amazing: local fare with a gourmet flair! Servers are well versed in the menu and are able to explain it in a way that makes your mouth water. And their bar offers many unusual but awesome drinks. It is on the expensive side and reservations are recommended, as it is always packed.
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Santaella
219 Calle Canals
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The food here is amazing: local fare with a gourmet flair! Servers are well versed in the menu and are able to explain it in a way that makes your mouth water. And their bar offers many unusual but awesome drinks. It is on the expensive side and reservations are recommended, as it is always packed.
WHERE TO GO VISIT
In this section, we list those places we consider nearby “hidden gems" of Old San Juan. They are beautiful, memorable and off-the-beaten-path, yet very close to the 'Blue Room'. We have been to all of them ourselves, at least twice, as we keep being pulled by these memorable places.
My husband and I love this walk. Walk some 10 minutes from Them Blue Room’ towards the Puerta de San Juan (that’s the red gate in the picture), the oldest of all the entry gates in the once-walled city. Follow the wide sidewalk going North, towards the Castillo del Morro (in the other direction you will reach El Paseo de la Princesa, also worth a visit). You will be walking almost at sea level and enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean, old city walls and sentry posts. Go around dusk for some memorable sunset views.
Paseo del Morro
My husband and I love this walk. Walk some 10 minutes from Them Blue Room’ towards the Puerta de San Juan (that’s the red gate in the picture), the oldest of all the entry gates in the once-walled city. Follow the wide sidewalk going North, towards the Castillo del Morro (in the other direction you will reach El Paseo de la Princesa, also worth a visit). You will be walking almost at sea level and enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean, old city walls and sentry posts. Go around dusk for some memorable sunset views.
Want to see the rooftops of Old San Juan while sipping a drink around an infinity pool? Then the top floor of the hotel La Terraza is the place to visit. It’s located at 262 Calle del Sol, some 10 easy blocks from the ‘Blue Room’. Go to the barman at the front, order your drink and then take the elevator to the top floor. There’s no cover charge.
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La Terraza De San Juan
262 Calle Sol
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Want to see the rooftops of Old San Juan while sipping a drink around an infinity pool? Then the top floor of the hotel La Terraza is the place to visit. It’s located at 262 Calle del Sol, some 10 easy blocks from the ‘Blue Room’. Go to the barman at the front, order your drink and then take the elevator to the top floor. There’s no cover charge.
Just a few blocks away is this hotel built by Rafael Andrade, who remodeled and runs this hotel together with his parents, wife and sisters. They have a stunning rooftop from where you can see the Castillo del Morro and its lighthouse while eating and drinking al fresco. You can also have a bite at their restaurant, where one of the sisters will cook a delicious homemade meal.
352 Guest House
352-1 Calle San Francisco
Just a few blocks away is this hotel built by Rafael Andrade, who remodeled and runs this hotel together with his parents, wife and sisters. They have a stunning rooftop from where you can see the Castillo del Morro and its lighthouse while eating and drinking al fresco. You can also have a bite at their restaurant, where one of the sisters will cook a delicious homemade meal.
This is THE beach of Old San Juan, very popular with the locals. During the weekends you can see long lines of cars trying to catch one of the few parking spaces. But if you are in the ‘Blue Room’ you can take an Uber and hit the waves in less than 15 minutes. You can also go walking: I know somebody that jogs to the place every day and takes him 30 minutes. The beach is large and has plenty of palm trees for shade. My only qualm is that there’s no beach service so you must take food and beverages along. At the ‘Blue Room’, we have beach towels you can take to the beach and enjoy.
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Balneario El Escambrón
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This is THE beach of Old San Juan, very popular with the locals. During the weekends you can see long lines of cars trying to catch one of the few parking spaces. But if you are in the ‘Blue Room’ you can take an Uber and hit the waves in less than 15 minutes. You can also go walking: I know somebody that jogs to the place every day and takes him 30 minutes. The beach is large and has plenty of palm trees for shade. My only qualm is that there’s no beach service so you must take food and beverages along. At the ‘Blue Room’, we have beach towels you can take to the beach and enjoy.
The Cathedral is one block away from the 'Blue Room'. It will be 500 years old in 2021! It's actually the second oldest church in the Western Hemisphere, and the oldest church on U.S. soil. At the cathedral, you can visit the tomb of Ponce de León, the Spanish conquistador who served as the first Governor or Puerto Rico, the mummy of St. Pio and beautiful stained glass windows.
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San Juan Bautista Cathedral
151 Cll Del Cristo
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The Cathedral is one block away from the 'Blue Room'. It will be 500 years old in 2021! It's actually the second oldest church in the Western Hemisphere, and the oldest church on U.S. soil. At the cathedral, you can visit the tomb of Ponce de León, the Spanish conquistador who served as the first Governor or Puerto Rico, the mummy of St. Pio and beautiful stained glass windows.
A stone's throw away from the 'Blue Room', tucked awayat the very end of Calle del Cristo, is a tiny chapel, one of the most beautiful and secluded monuments in Old San Juan. It was built on top of the ancient stone walls that protected the capital in 1753 to celebrate a miracle (visit the chappel and you'll know what the miracle is all about. Hint: it's a love story). Ever since then, tens of thousands of faithful Puerto Ricans have come to this humble chapel to pray for miracle cures themselves.
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Capilla del Santo Cristo de la Salud
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A stone's throw away from the 'Blue Room', tucked awayat the very end of Calle del Cristo, is a tiny chapel, one of the most beautiful and secluded monuments in Old San Juan. It was built on top of the ancient stone walls that protected the capital in 1753 to celebrate a miracle (visit the chappel and you'll know what the miracle is all about. Hint: it's a love story). Ever since then, tens of thousands of faithful Puerto Ricans have come to this humble chapel to pray for miracle cures themselves.
A mere two blocks away from the 'Blue Room', at 101 Calle de Tetuan, you will come across an extraordinarily slim, two-story house known as La Casa Estrecha (Spanish for The Narrow House). Measuring a mere five feet, three inches across, the house was once a neglected alleyway before it was transformed into a home. Its facade features a vibrant yellow hue and a lush green door, making it very hard to miss! Despite its slim stature, the house has all the basic amenities of a home, including a living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.
La Casa Estrecha
101 Calle Tetuan
A mere two blocks away from the 'Blue Room', at 101 Calle de Tetuan, you will come across an extraordinarily slim, two-story house known as La Casa Estrecha (Spanish for The Narrow House). Measuring a mere five feet, three inches across, the house was once a neglected alleyway before it was transformed into a home. Its facade features a vibrant yellow hue and a lush green door, making it very hard to miss! Despite its slim stature, the house has all the basic amenities of a home, including a living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.
Galería Botello is on the ground floor of the building where the 'Blue Room' is located. You can't get much closer to an attraction than that! The gallery showcases some of the finest internationally recognized artists. It was founded by the famed artist Angel Botello, known as the 'Paul Gauguin of the Caribbean'. The gallery displays some of his works, including bronze sculptures, oils, lithographs and linocuts. Even if you are not interested in art, visit the gallery to see the interior patio and fountain of the original 320-year old house. The incredibly cordial Juan Botello, son of the late artist, owns and runs the place. Say hi to our neighbor!
Galería Botello
208 Calle del Cristo
Galería Botello is on the ground floor of the building where the 'Blue Room' is located. You can't get much closer to an attraction than that! The gallery showcases some of the finest internationally recognized artists. It was founded by the famed artist Angel Botello, known as the 'Paul Gauguin of the Caribbean'. The gallery displays some of his works, including bronze sculptures, oils, lithographs and linocuts. Even if you are not interested in art, visit the gallery to see the interior patio and fountain of the original 320-year old house. The incredibly cordial Juan Botello, son of the late artist, owns and runs the place. Say hi to our neighbor!
Calle Fortaleza leads to the governor's mansion. It's literally 50 feet from the building where the 'Blue Room' is located! Youn will see umbrellas atop the street, which give welcome shade and color. They have a tourist attraction themselves! Shops and residences line the street and if you go at dusk, you might see locals dancing in the street or children playing. You might even see a local protest or two, which paradoxically combine the demands of disappointed citizens with lively salsa music.
Calle Fortaleza
Calle Fortaleza leads to the governor's mansion. It's literally 50 feet from the building where the 'Blue Room' is located! Youn will see umbrellas atop the street, which give welcome shade and color. They have a tourist attraction themselves! Shops and residences line the street and if you go at dusk, you might see locals dancing in the street or children playing. You might even see a local protest or two, which paradoxically combine the demands of disappointed citizens with lively salsa music.
This is a narrow, leafy, colorful and quiet street in Old San Juan, just one block North of the 'Blue Room'. It starts at the Cathedral and Convento Hotel and ends at the Rogativa Plaza and Puerta de San Juan. It's a great walk you can't miss.
Caleta de las Monjas
This is a narrow, leafy, colorful and quiet street in Old San Juan, just one block North of the 'Blue Room'. It starts at the Cathedral and Convento Hotel and ends at the Rogativa Plaza and Puerta de San Juan. It's a great walk you can't miss.
La Punta del Morro, or simply El Morro (Spanish for promontory or ridge), is part of El Castillo de San Felipe, a citadel built between the 16th and 18th centuries to protect the capital city, today's Old San Juan. It lies on the northwestern-most point of the islet and was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain. The fortification was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay, and defend the Spanish colonial port city of San Juan from seaborne enemies. It will take you a mere 15 minutes from the 'Blue Room' to get there.
Punta del Morro
La Punta del Morro, or simply El Morro (Spanish for promontory or ridge), is part of El Castillo de San Felipe, a citadel built between the 16th and 18th centuries to protect the capital city, today's Old San Juan. It lies on the northwestern-most point of the islet and was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain. The fortification was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay, and defend the Spanish colonial port city of San Juan from seaborne enemies. It will take you a mere 15 minutes from the 'Blue Room' to get there.
Plaza La Rogativa is the most scenic plaza in San Juan Puerto Rico offering 180-degree views of the San Juan bay, El Yunque (where my brother lives) in the distance, Isla de Cabras, the San Juan Gate, La Fortaleza, and the historic walkways along the city walls. Rogativa means 'The Procession' and it celebrates the legend about a Catholic Bishop and his companions who made a procession of women holding crosses, torches, and chanting during an invasion by the British on the city in 1797. The British thought they were Spanish Army reinforcements and gave up on the attack.
Calle La Rogativa
Plaza La Rogativa is the most scenic plaza in San Juan Puerto Rico offering 180-degree views of the San Juan bay, El Yunque (where my brother lives) in the distance, Isla de Cabras, the San Juan Gate, La Fortaleza, and the historic walkways along the city walls. Rogativa means 'The Procession' and it celebrates the legend about a Catholic Bishop and his companions who made a procession of women holding crosses, torches, and chanting during an invasion by the British on the city in 1797. The British thought they were Spanish Army reinforcements and gave up on the attack.
Ballajá Barracks (or Cuartel de Ballajá in Spanish) is a military barracks located in Old San Juan, about a 15-minute walk from the 'Blue Room'. It was built around 1860 for the Spanish troops established on the island and their families. Today, the Ballajá Barracks houses several educational and cultural organizations, namely the Museo de Las Américas on the second floor of the building since 1992. On the first floor, there are music and dance schools and a library, among a variety of restaurants.
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Ballajá
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Ballajá Barracks (or Cuartel de Ballajá in Spanish) is a military barracks located in Old San Juan, about a 15-minute walk from the 'Blue Room'. It was built around 1860 for the Spanish troops established on the island and their families. Today, the Ballajá Barracks houses several educational and cultural organizations, namely the Museo de Las Américas on the second floor of the building since 1992. On the first floor, there are music and dance schools and a library, among a variety of restaurants.
The house known as 'Casa Blanca 'was built in 1521 and is the first fortification in San Juan. It was to be the residence of conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon but he died before he was able to occupy it. His family occupied it for 250 years. The Casa Blanca was later occupied by the Spanish army and later by American army commanders. Today Casa Blanca is a museum with 16th and 17th century artifacts and magnificent sea views. It is well worth a visit and one of the attractions you can enjoy without crowds. And it's very close to the 'Blue Room', taking some leisurely 15 minutes to get there walking.
Casa de Ponce de Leon (Museum)
The house known as 'Casa Blanca 'was built in 1521 and is the first fortification in San Juan. It was to be the residence of conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon but he died before he was able to occupy it. His family occupied it for 250 years. The Casa Blanca was later occupied by the Spanish army and later by American army commanders. Today Casa Blanca is a museum with 16th and 17th century artifacts and magnificent sea views. It is well worth a visit and one of the attractions you can enjoy without crowds. And it's very close to the 'Blue Room', taking some leisurely 15 minutes to get there walking.