Eat Your Way Through Puerto Rico: Best Food Tours in San Juan
Get a real taste of the Island of Enchantment with these delicious locally guided food tours.
A guided food tour is an excellent way to experience Puerto Rico. It provides a well-rounded introduction for first time visitors, as well as offer new opportunities for those who’ve traveled to the island before.
Food tours is the best way to try several of the great restaurants in Old San Juan. And it’s not just about the food, either. Local tour guides delve into the history of the communities and people who live here. Food tours can enrich your visit to Puerto Rico by providing a deeper understanding of the culture that inspired the dishes you enjoy.
Tour companies have implemented new protocols to ensure the health and safety of tour guests. Intimate tour sizes (groups are generally limited to under 14 people), mask requirements, single use dishes and utensils, and ample time outdoors are among them.
Flavors Food Tours San Juan owner Leslie Padro, a former CNN journalist and avid foodie, blended her two loves of storytelling and cuisine.
“I like to tell a story of life and events to other people and I’m a communicator,” Padro shares. “I thought that it would be really interesting.”
Launched in 2009, Flavors Food Tours San Juan became the Caribbean’s very first food tour company. In the beginning, Padro was the only tour guide, scheduling tours in the evenings after her full-time teaching job at Saint John’s School in San Juan.
“It started really slow. I created a website and listed my company on TripAdvisor,” she explains. “My tours began at 5pm and included four restaurants. It was 2 ½ hours of sampling food and me talking about the history of Puerto Rico and Old San Juan.”
Today, Flavors Food Tours has expanded to both St. Maarten and St. Thomas and secured excursion contracts with cruise lines like Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises.
Padro’s inspiration has always been ‘eat well and be inspired’—encouraging travelers to connect the foods they eat with the history and culture of the island. Part of that includes allowing tour guests the hands-on opportunity to make their own mofongo. As they work with their mortar and pestle, they learn that the iconic Puerto Rican dish is the perfect blend of the three influences that define the island’s cultural heritage.. Taíno peoples used mortar and pestle in cooking practices; the Spanish cultivated plantains; and enslaved Africans who were brought to the island during colonization introduced frying plantains.
Food tour guests don’t just eat the food. As the tour moves from one restaurant to the next, local guides share historical and cultural information about the neighborhood and island.
Padro explains: “It’s more of a 50-50 food tour and walking tour. That’s specific to the Flavors Food Tours brand. History is so important to provide context as to why we eat what we eat in Puerto Rico.”
A great introduction to Puerto Rico, the Classic Old San Juan Food Tour is the company’s original walking tour—and most popular. Guests savor up to 10 items at five restaurants throughout the “Fortress City” and get a historical, cultural and architectural rundown along the way. Both morning and afternoon tours are offered.
The Rum Runners Craft Cocktail tour delves deeper into rum making and history. The tour is a light 2-hour bar hop through the streets of Old San Juan. The sunset Boozy Bites Food Tour showcases mojitos, mofongos and local dessert from three local restaurants.
When you book your tour, you receive details about where and when the tour begins. Generally, the beginning and end of the tour is just a few blocks away from the cruise ship docks.
Never underestimate the power of a mother in the kitchen. Time spent cooking with Gustavo Antonetti’s own mother fueled the dream behind Spoon. The food tour company officially launched in 2012. Antonetti and partner Paulina Salach also found inspiration from extensive travel throughout Puerto Rico and the world.
“Without a doubt, our love of food and Puerto Rico played a big part,” Salach explains. “Gustavo and I were determined to showcase Puerto Rico’s rich history, culture and culinary heritage in an authentic and sustainable way.”
Supporting the local makers and growers is an important component in the company’s itineraries. With each tour, they aim to create meaningful connections through an authentic culinary experience.
“We work with dozens of local restaurants, bars, cafés, farms, chefs, bartenders, shops, baristas, farmers, artists and small business owners throughout the island,” shares Salach. “Our company directly impacts the economy, supports sustainable tourism and creates jobs, both directly and indirectly.”
Immersive opportunities go beyond tours to include cooking classes, private dinners, special events and consulting and travel services for large groups.
“Through our curated and bona fide experiences, travelers gain a deep connection to the island, taste authentic food and experience Puerto Rico’s culture through the senses,” says Salach. “Our experiences are interactive, fun and educational. We want our guests to fall in love with Puerto Rico too!”
Spoon’s Walk & Taste Tour in Old San Juan is their most popular food tour. This guided, laid-back stroll takes guests along the cobblestone streets of Puerto Rico’s historic city. Throughout the tour, you’ll savor Puerto Rican delicacies like mofongo, traditional local pastries and, of course, rum. Along the way you’ll also see and learn about Old San Juan’s iconic landmarks like El Morro Fort, the first Carmelite Convent in the Americas and the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, the second oldest in the Americas. A sunset version of this tour is also available.
Led by a local bar expert, the Sip & Savor cocktail tour features Old San Juan’s popular spots for the best cocktails. You’ll also learn more about Puerto Rico’s rich rum-making history, as well as sample tasty bar bites along the way. The San Juan Drive Around Food Tour explores the unique ingredients and flavors that define San Juan’s eclectic neighborhoods.
Salach says: “It’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture. What’s a better way to get to know a destination than through its culinary heritage? Our guides are fun, entertaining and full of knowledge about Puerto Rican history and culture.”
In addition to food and cocktail tours, cooking and mixology classes, Spoon’s Food Tour team is behind the annual Puerto Rico Restaurant Week. Additionally, this winter they’ll collaborate with the James Beard Foundation to co-host the first Taste America® cooking event in Puerto Rico.