Dive Bars, Greengos and Goodbyes
After lounging at our beautiful hotel, exploring the forts and sailing, we spent the little time we had left walking around the streets of Old San Juan and Condado and eating delicious food.
What I loved most about these areas is how old everything was. Some was beautifully preserved, some was falling apart, most was somewhere in between. We marveled at the old cobblestones, huge tropical trees, graffiti, the proximity of city to beach and the way it all fit together… old, new, rich, poor, clean, dirty, familiar and foreign.
Our friends had told us about El Batay and, after a few failed attempts when they were closed and/or under construction, we finally made it. This place is a hole in the wall, dive bar, graffiti heaven with a bathroom that looks like it was transplanted from CBGB’s and a perfectly curated juke box full of motown, punk, reggae, grunge, and other delights. We hung out with the owner one afternoon while he recovered or continued partying from the night before. He told us stories of his exploits and made drinks at a snails pace that were surprisingly delicious. We made friends with other patrons (human and canine) that popped in from around the corner, Louisiana and Boston. We loved it so much, we came back later that night to see how our new friends were doing and were thrilled that some of them were still there. El Batay left a mark on our hearts and we left a mark on its walls.
Greengos Carribean Cantina was another favorite that warranted a second visit. We went there for lunch on both trips for their cold beers, fish tacos, fresh salads and art. The restaurant is covered in murals and the bar features a huge tequila selection. It’s a great place to get off your feet and replenish your energy and/or buzz. It’s casual, eclectic, and delicious.
A few other spots we enjoyed:
Caficultra, a cafe in Old San Juan overlooking Plaza Colon, one of the main squares in the city. We had a leisurely breakfast and watched the city wake up and start bustling. We made friends with a guy promoting tours and restaurants and wound up running into him all around the city throughout our trip.
La Cueva del Mar for dinner where you can sit outside and watch the city go by on the street right next to you.
We had a great dinner on the ocean at the aptly named Oceano where everything was beautiful and delicious.
Finally, our list would not be complete without the beautiful, delicious though expensive Sage at the O:live, home of renowned chef, Mario Pagan. I have a feeling we’ll be back soon, my pretty.
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