Sunday, January 23, 2011


Stacey and I have been to San Juan, Puerto Rico. maybe a half dozen times. We like it there. The rooms are cheap, the beach is always nearby and the restaurants are good.

Last time there, we took a taxi to Old San Juan and did a little "bar" crawl.

Stacey and I had mapped out some spots to visit in Old San Juan for our latest trip. We had rented a studio cond across the street from the beach and only about 15 minutes from Old San Juan. We were there for a wedding, but Monday we were free and we wanted to find a few places we had read about. Places to eat and or drink. Old restaurants and hotels we found in magazines and travel books. Places we hoped would not be full of tourist.

We were to meet up with niece and husband Monday a.m. but we had no luck getting them on the phone. Not being able to reach niece on the phone and knowing that niece had danced with the label of "BLACK" the night before at her brothers wedding, we thought she might be hurtin.
So we headed off to a near by spot for a Bloody Mary. It was the worst restaurant and the worst BM I have ever had in my life. The reason we went to this place is cause the day before I looked in the front door when we walked by and thought it might have a nice view. This is what we got for a view. We were able to sit in that window and have a bad drink. With that view. Not bad.

We continued to reach out to niece and husband and finally they called and said "where are you?". We said "at the Hotel El Convento in Old San Juan come on and meet us". And they did. Good times.

Stacey and I were walking through Old San Juan trying to find a tapas bar we had read about. We had read how good and authentic the food was. Just like a tapas bar in Barcelona. When we found the address it was at the Hotel El Convento. When we ask about the tapas bar we were informed it was not open until 5 p.m. It was about 1 p.m. so we ask where we might get a drink and the bellmen told us the bar in the court yard was open and he showed us the way.

This was an awesome place. To start with some guy was playing a classical music on a piano.

We looked around and saw no one. Just the guy playing piano. We walked toward the bar as the bar tender showed up. We ask if he was open, he said he was, we ordered drinks and ask about the hotel we were in. Bar tender handed us a pamphlet, told us to go sit and he would bring our drinks.

Looking through the pamphlet we learned that Hotel El Convento was once a convent.Built in 1651. In 1995 15 million dollars were spent on a renovation. It still looked old to me. Which was a good thing. It had been beautiful restored. Click here and read about all the changes the place went through Between 1651 and 1995. We sat in the bar in the courtyard surround by balconies about 4 stories tall. There were trees in the court and tons of vegetation. We actually met the lady who's job was to take of the plants. She was very proud. The 4 stories of balconies accommodated the guest rooms. Outside each guest door were 4 chairs and a table. Looked like a nice place to have a morning coffee or afternoon cocktail. I really want to go back and spend a couple nights in this hotel. I bet is it haunted with old nuns.

After a couple beers in the courtyard bar we headed out to find La Mallorquina. Founded in 1848 La Mallorquina is advertised at the oldest restaurant to operate nonstop in the same spot in America. Some how we knew we wanted to have a drink here. We had read about it some where. We were greeted by a lovely man who was about 90 years old and 4' tall. He invited us in and he told us about the two lunch specials. We sat at the bar took in the oldness of this place. Straight out of a Humphrey Bogart movie. We had a drink and decided to split one of the lunch specials just to check out the food. It was good. Rice and pork wrapped in a banana leaf. With black beans of course. We had another drink.

We learned the third spot we wanted to visit was no longer open so we though we would walk a while. Old San Juan is great to look at, but soon one feels crowded by all the tourist. So we ducked into the local brew pub.

Thank you, I know smart move. But, a totally different atmosphere. Everything was new. Big open kitchen and they were getting ready for a busy night. There were 3 chefs and they were all hard at work. We did a tasting of about 5 beers. Good stuff. We then left for a meal at Varita.

Varita is one of three restaurants owned by Chef Wilo Benet. I did not know this, but he was on one of the Top Chef series. The place was real cool to look at and the food was good. I had a huge piece of roasted pig. We had lot's of different food and it was all good.
check it out here.

Here are some photos Stacey took. It was a good trip and I can't wait to get back and check out those restaurants on the beach.

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