Carli’s Has It All For When You Want It All

Everybody knows the three requisites for a satisfying dining experience:
1) Superior food
2) Attentive service and
3) A comfortable ambiance. (I’ll never forget the time I hitched my chair closer to better reach my plate and mashed my fingers on the underside of the too-low table! Definitely uncomfortable.) That restaurant is closed now. It might not have been just the tables height.
There is, however, a 4th criterion which is the key to enjoying 1, 2 and 3. It’s Mood, with a capital M.
A good Mood is formed by your first favorable impression of 1, 2 and 3,  which shortly builds into a delighted impression, which stays with you all through the restaurant experience and still makes you smile when you’re finally walking out the door. And what better example of 1, 2, 3 and 4 than Carli’s, in Old San Juan.
Over the years, Tables Magazine has printed multiple reviews of Carli’s – all favorable. Each  of the various reviewers wrote their articles highlighting a different part of their pleasurable experiences there. My husband and I have been there many times ourselves, not only for the marvelous menu and delicious dinners, but for the sheer pleasure of listening to Carli Muñoz on the piano.
Carli was one of the Beach Boys and his gold records hang on the restaurant walls. He knows probably all of the musicians in town and often shares his stage with them. Lesser-knowns might be invited to the piano as well: once, it was a sitting judge who surprised the room with his musical talent; another time, it was my young grandson, who ended a short ragtime piece to enthusiastic applause.
Yet still another time, when the two of us were there alone, we struck up a conversation with a couple at the next table, tourists from New York. I asked them how they came to be at the restaurant and  she told me that they took a cruise out of San Juan twice  a year and they always spent a night in San Juan before the ship left…so they could come to Carli’s for dinner that night.
And another time, a visiting female friend and I stopped at Carli’s for a late dinner and drink. We sat at the bar facing the stage and it turned into one of those magical performances that grabs  you and doesn’t let go.  Carli was wonderful; the food we ordered to be served at the bar was melt-in-your-mouth good and the drinks, prepared by a master bartender, were perfect. My friend said, “This  is  like being in one of those wonderful supper clubs in New York.”
“No,” I told her, “it’s Carli’s in Old San Juan and it’s got the Mood.”





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