Valentine’s Day Right Around a Corner in San Juan

While restaurants in Puerto Rico are filled with holiday parties (Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Three Kings Day) celebrations in December and January, by the time February rolls around, everybody is focused on where they are going to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Heart Day, as my kids used to call it, is all about romantic settings and hedonistic meals. Flowers for the ladies fit into the equation as well. And being a romantic island, Puerto Rico offers many choices for celebrants young and old.

A few suggestions:

1)  Reserve early; it’s a BIG night for the restaurants, which tend to fill up quickly. Luckily, Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, and so offers the options of Friday night, Saturday night or Sunday brunch celebrations.

2) Consider your budget and your tastes, and then choose your restaurant. If you’re in San Juan and environs, you’ll have myriad options ranging from expensive to inexpensive, fine dining to casual dining, and indoor dining rooms or terraces out-of-doors.

For instance: in Old San Juan, there’s the opulent Marmalade. Chef/owners Peter and Henriette Schintler preside over one of the most attractive dining rooms in town, with colorful banquettes for two to lounge against and gauzy hangings that delineate spaces.  There’s an exciting bar and a totally extravagant menu (taste-wide and dollar-wise… but oh, so worth it! After making his reputation in Asia with his famous Blue restaurant, Chef Peter incorporated some local flavors to his memorable menu when he opened Marmalade. It’s now established as an old city favorite. Indeed, Marmalade is a member of the Tables Magazine Chef’s Hat Award Hall of Fame.

One of my favorite things on the menu is the White Bean Soup. Spoonsful of flavor and smooth air. Incredibly delicious… and I didn’t even know I liked beans. The chef offers tasting menus for 6 or more; go with friends. Marmalade is at 317 Fortaleza Street. 787-724-3969.

Other romantic options include Perla, in La Concha Renaissance Resort in Condado. The menu consists of contemporary American cuisine created by chef Dayn Smith, and the food enhances the incredibly beautiful setting of the dining room. Housed in la Concha, a shell-shaped room, tables overlook the startling beautiful blue reflecting pool and ocean beyond it, that seems to  surround the restaurant. Don’t miss the scallop appetizer… or the Artic Char entrée… or… well, everything is good at Perla, which is also a member of the Tables Magazine Chef’s Hat Award Hall of Fame. 1077 Ashford Avenue, Condado. 787-977-3285.

Being outdoors can be very romantic. Pamela’s, in Ocean Park, not only has  indoor seating with an ocean view, but you can opt to reserve a table on the beach itself.  The menu offers a variety of Caribbean cuisine specialties for which the restaurant is noted. Pamela’s is also a member of the Tables Magazine Chef’s Hat Award Hall of Fame. 1 Calle Santa Ana, Numero Uno Guest House . 787-726-5010.

So don’t forget, make somebody happy, make reservations for dinner!



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