Best Family-Friendly Restaurants in Puerto Rico
One of the world’s most vibrant culinary centers, Puerto Rico will bring out the inner foodie in even the most cautious young diners.
Immersing children in local food culture while keeping them entertained—and their parents sane—is no easy feat. These welcoming restaurants provide a family-friendly initiation into the island’s signature dishes and engage angsty little ones with their colorful ambience, unique décor or fascinating backstory.
Conveniently located in Old San Juan, this kid-friendly café/restaurant is a homage to all things chocolate. Chocobar spikes many of its dishes with cocoa to create memorable salty-sweet concoctions that stir kids’ culinary imaginations. The novel café is an offshoot of the iconic Chocolate Cortés, a fourth-generation chocolate company, originally established in the Dominican Republic in 1929. The brand is known for its high-quality chocolate—recognized among the top 50 cacao bean producers in the world. The breakfast of champions is the decadent Chocobar pancakes—vanilla-chocolate pancakes drizzled with homemade strawberry marmalade and topped with caramelized salted almonds. For lunch, the Choco-Club sandwich layers chocolate Mallorca bread with turkey, smoked ham and myriad fixings. A more grown-up favorite is the chalupitas de mofongo which combines roasted pork with pineapple and chocolate infused guacamole draped in rich mole sauce.
Hours: Mon–Thu, 8am–3 pm, Fri–Sun 8am–3pm (walk-ins only).
Price: Average entrée $16
The flag bearer for Puerto Rico’s growing passion for food hall–style restaurants, Lote 23 has become the locals’ go-to spot in the revitalized Santurce district. Families can walk, browse and graze on over a dozen culinary specialties, ranging from pizza and tacos to bao bao and creative burgers. Try Dorotea for wood-fired pizza, the delicious mofongo at El Cuchifrito or pernil sandwiches (Puerto Rico’s answer to pulled pork) at Pernilería Los Proceres. With plenty of outside space and picnic tables, kids can play and roam while parents relax with a beer or cocktail.
Hours: Tues, Wed, Sun 11:30am–9:00pm; Thur, Fri, Sat 11:30am–11:00pm
Price: Average entrée $14
Wholesome food and story value go hand in hand at Kasalta. This sleek deli, lounge and salon is located a short walk from Ocean Park. A gold plaque testifies to President Obama’s visit in 2011—owners and wait staff will happily relate that he ordered the “medianoche” sandwich. The menu spans satisfying sandwiches loaded with local meat and produce, Puerto Rican classic entrées, as well as all-day breakfasts, empanadas and delicious baked goods. Young palates will enjoy the fancy rendition of a grilled ham and cheese, served on sweet Mallorca bread. For dessert, don’t miss the guava pastelitos (puff pastry filled with guava jelly) quesitos (cream cheese puffs) and pistachio tres leches.
Hours: Daily 7am- 9pm
Price: Average entrée $14
Locals pack into this quirky restaurant for its homestyle comida criolla—widely considered the best on the island. The chef-owners celebrate the island’s culinary heritage with authentic dishes infused with Spanish, African and Indian flavors. Kids will love the vibrant ambience with music drifting in from the courtyard and a home-from-home family setting. For adventurous young diners, the cooked-to-order dishes offer just the right amount of exoticism without off-putting textures and flavors. Locals’ favorites include the tostones (fried plantains) and the mofongo with red snapper (the head comes on).
Hours: Daily 10am-9pm
Price: Average entrée $12
A colorful pit spot while exploring the Santurce district, this no-frills Santurce locale is one of the best places to try Puerto Rico’s beloved local snack, alcapurrias—deep-fried fritters made from plantains (or grated yucca) stuffed with flavorful beef, pork or fish. Quemá serves several iterations, but the bestsellers are beef and crab. The kitchen also delivers on traditional homestyle entrées, including carne guisada (traditional beef stew) and chicharron de pollo (crispy, skin-on chicken).
Hours: Tues-Sun, 11am–10pm; closed Mon
Price: Average entrée $14, alcapurrias $3.50
An essential stop on La Ruta de Lechón (Pork Highway), this super casual lechonera is an entertaining cultural experience for families with teens and young children. The atmosphere is lively and theatrical with whole pigs turning on spits, the chit chat of local banter and men wielding machetes as they carve up charcoal-grilled pieces of tender pork. Must-try side dishes are the arroz con gandulas (rice with pigeon peas), plantains and green banana salad. The tropical, open-air restaurant can become rowdy on weekends when every inch of space is turned over to live salsa music and dancing.
Hours: Daily 7am–7pm
Price: Average entrée $12
This old school wooden restaurant shaded by tropical foliage serves delicious inexpensive local dishes. A 20-minute drive west of Ponce, La Guardarrava’s claim to fame is its undisputed distinction as the birthplace of the legendary chuleta can-can, a deep-fried pork chop with thick fat still on. Best described as a hybrid of a pork chop and chicharrones (crispy pork rinds), this is the only place left on the island still serving this celebrated dish. You are guaranteed a memorable love-it or loathe-it dining experience. The menu runs the gamut of Puerto Rican classics, including mamposteao rice—an anything goes combo of rice, beans, bacon, onion and peppers and piquant spices—and child-friendly fried chicken and grilled steak. Don’t leave without trying the tres leches—often voted the best in Puerto Rico.
Hours: Wed-Sun, 11am-5pm
Price: Average entrée $15
$ $ $ $ | Carr. 987 Km 3.5, Fajardo
Children love a theme. Restaurants that masquerade as something way more interesting—mechanical, theatrical or technological—are always a big hit. La Estación is a case in point. Just off the highway in Fajardo, this quirky gas station-turned-restaurant combines a wild tiki ambience with an edgy industrial vibe. The menu fuses American and Caribbean flavors, and there’s truly something for everyone. Parents can sample the catch-of-the-day ceviche while the kids dive into the mac ‘n cheese topped with fried chicken or the novel shrimp on a stick. The all-around crowd pleasers are the barbecue pork spare ribs and award-winning beef brisket.
Hours: Daily 7:30am–10:00pm
Price: Average entrée $22
This Ponce institution combines authentic cooking with graffiti-strewn décor and a spirited ambience that stays true to its name. Everything on the menu, from the zesty ceviche and piquant mofongo to locally raised steak and tender cerdo relleno (stuffed pork), is perfectly executed. On the weekend, there’s an infectious energy to the place with live salsa and rumba and locals dancing in the courtyard and out on the street. Locals love this place and, somehow, it has remained off the tourist trail.
Hours: Mon, Tues, Wed 9am–4pm; Thurs 9am–10pm; Fri 9am–11pm; Sat 11am–11pm; Sun noon–4pm
Price: Average entrée $13
Located on Plaza de las Delicias, Ponce’s main square, this beloved spot is one of the best places in Puerto Rico for ice cream. It was opened in 1964 by immigrants who fled the Cuban revolution. The second-generation family still lovingly produces 12 tropical varieties of unique and classic flavors—coconut, tamarind, passion fruit, chocolate and vanilla. Take a seat outside or head over to the main plaza and people watch on the benches clustered around the fountain. Bring cash and plenty of patience—the lines are always very long.
Hours: Daily 9am–midnight
Price: Small cup $2
At this classic Rincón bar-restaurant, you can revel in superb sunset views, gourmet cuisine and expert mixology. The fusion menu features grilled fish of the day with coconut curry, mussels with sambuca cream sauce, steak frites with chimichurri and pan-seared duck breast with honey soy glaze. During happy hour, from 3pm–sunset, you can graze on innovative small plates, washed down with a signature cocktail—try the Cucumber Fizz or Isleña Margarita.
Hours: Tues–Sat, 5–9pm
Price: Average entrée $28
This characterful roadside shack specializes in Kansas City-style barbecue. Locally produced meat is marinated with homemade barbecue sauce and then cooked over hardwood to infuse that irresistible smoky flavor. Every mouthwatering dish is prepared to order—slabs of ribs, mac ‘n’ cheese, pulled pork and brisket sandwiches and heaps of coleslaw. With hearty portions, budget friendly prices and a convenient location, it’s a go-to spot for locals.
Hours: Fri–Sun, 11am–6pm
Price: Average entrée $8
Just before you reach Rincón, this modest, oceanfront storefront is regularly touted as the home of Puerto Rico’s finest empanadillas. Over a dozen varieties of the deliciously flaky half-moon turnovers, range from classic beef and pork to ocean-fresh lobster, crab and shark. With a large, breezy patio overlooking the ocean, it’s a relaxed and inexpensive spot to satisfy seafood cravings—the octopus salad—best paired with a mint laced mojito—is outstanding. The menu caters to both adventurous and more cautious kid palettes with mahi mahi nuggets and chicken fingers, as well as fresh fruit smoothies and Nutella shakes.
Hours: Daily 11am-10pm
Price: Empanadillas from $3.50; Average entrée $10
A local fixture for almost 50 years, this family business nestled in the storied mountain village of Lares has survived the slings and arrows of Puerto Rico’s tumultuous history. Local legend Salvador Berreto, known as “Yinyo,” founded the store to commemorate 100 years since the cry of freedom from colonial rule, known as the “Grito de Lares.” Choose from 50 unusual and inspired ice cream flavors, including avocado, tuna, cod, coquito (the Puerto Rican version of eggnog) and rice and beans. The lines are long every day of the week, but it’s worth it. In 2008, Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea paid $100 for a mango ice cream—so legend would have it.
Hours: Daily 9am–6pm
Price: Medium cup, $3.50