By Shen Mascariñas
San Juan has gone above and beyond its reputation for being a Mecca for Chinese food. A plethora of other cuisines haves joined in on the fun—from modern Canadian to authentic Japanese. This modestly sized city is undoubtedly saturated with great food spots, but we’ve plucked out the unmissable for your dining pleasure.
Here are 8 culinary gems for a revamped San Juan food crawl.
8. Lucy in the Sky Café
222 Wilson Street, Greenhills, San Juan City
(02) 370 4113 | Facebook
Open every day, except Tuesdays, from 11am to 9pm
Budget for two – P500
The café’s colorful, quirky and cozy interiors give a peek at what you’re about to eat. Lucy in the Sky serves flavorful and comforting vegetarian dishes that give the meatless diet a good name (even for meat-lovers). Some must-tries are My Momma’s Burger, Chicken Drumsticks and The Scream Chocolate Cake. And as the food satisfies your belly, the art pieces will also take very good care of your eyes.
7. Café Sanso
Cruz Street, Greater San Juan, San Juan City
(02) 275 2200, 0922 894 6144 | Facebook
Open Monday to Wednesday and every Sunday from 11am to 10pm
Open every Friday and Saturday from 11am to 12mn
Budget for two – P1,200
For special occasions that call for a scrumptious Spanish feast, gather the gang at Café Sanso. Its interiors are also embellished with art, making it ultra-Instagram-worthy. You’ll post about it not only because of aesthetics, though. The food will definitely be the star of your visit.
Café Sanso provides modern and creative twists on Spanish cuisine. You’ll see (or taste) what we mean when you order the Chorizo y Quezo Paella. It beautifully adds Manchego and Mozzarella cheese to the classic.
6. HotBox Kitchen
450 P. Guevarra corner Wilson Street, Addition Hills, San Juan City
(02) 275 4577 | Facebook
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 4pm to 11pm
Budget for two – P1,000
Make sure you throw your diet out of the window as you step inside HotBox Kitchen. You wouldn’t want to miss out on deliciously-sinful Canadian and American comfort food. No visit is complete without trying their Poutine—a Canadian classic with French fries, gravy and bacon. Their Candied Bacon will also have you coming back for seconds…and thirds.
189 A. Mabini Street, Addition Hills, San Juan City
(02) 925 5885, 0917 828 8341 | Facebook
Open Sunday to Thursday from 7:30am to 10pm | Friday to Saturday from 7:30am to 11pm
Budget for two – P800
Here’s a culinary gem that seems to be a Jack-of-all-trades. CO/OP is a retail store, an events space, a café and a damn good restaurant. Their menu features simple comfort food dishes that are executed well and served in generous amounts. For a dose of greens, try their BBQ Ranch Chicken—it’ll please even those who despise vegetables. And if you’re looking for something more filling, the Herb Crusted Beef Tenderloin is sure to do the trick.
4. La La Fun Land
2F Wilson Square Building, 199 Wilson Street, Little Baguio, San Juan City
(02) 656 7613 | Facebook
Open every day from 11am to 10pm
Budget for two – P1,200
Spotting La La Fun Land can be quite a challenge, but for your belly’s sake, don’t give up. Just search for a sign on a building’s second floor, which radiates a good and delicious time. Don’t miss out on the Buttermilk Fried Chicken + Waffles, Buffalo Poppers and Hawaiian Loco Moco.
3. Oyasumi Ramen
308 P. Guevarra corner Seaview Street, Greater San Juan, San Juan City
(02) 275 0309 | Facebook
Open every day from 11am to 10:30pm
Budget for two – P1000
When it’s storming outside and going home seems impossible, a hot bowl of ramen is equivalent to a comforting hug. For that warm embrace, seek refuge at Oyasumi Ramen. They feature the Yokohama-style ramen, which is mainly tonkotsu-based. Their noodles are made fresh daily, and most of their ingredients are homemade. They even have flavored noodles if you want to further amp up the flavors.
Hailing from the streets of Yokohama—the Lekei Ramen is a great match to those looking for a traditional interpretation. For those who love spicy food, the Kara Miso will have you sweating. And if you’re looking for something extraordinary, the Truffle Ramen is sure to win your heart.
It’s about time the spotlight is put on Japan’s soul food: okonomiyaki. For first-timers, okonomiyaki is a savory pancake that’s filled with various ingredients like octopus, pork, shredded cabbage, and others of your choice. It’s grilled then topped with sweet-salty okonomiyaki sauce, seaweed flakes, bonito flakes and Japanese mayonnaise.
Okonomiyaki tastes amazing as it is, but expect an even greater experience after cooking it yourself. You’ll have so much fun learning how to make it just how you like it. Dohtonbori isn’t limited to okonomiyaki, though. You can also enjoy great ramen, yakisoba, sukiyaki, and many other Japanese favorites here.
221 Wilson Street, Greenhills, San Juan City
(02) 706 0626, (02) 925 1155 | Facebook
Open every day from 11am to 3pm, 5:30pm to 11pm
Budget for two – P1,100
Here’s an underrated Japanese restaurant that you ought to try. Yuujin has been around since 2012, yet it remains obscure and, more importantly, excellent. From the outside, Yuujin seems like a simple house converted into a casual Japanese restaurant. Once you step inside and try their food, though, you’ll be greeted with pleasant surprises.
Ambiance is homey, service is wonderful and food is consistently scrumptious. Get your fill of teppan, sushi, tempura and all your other Japanese favorites.
Got anything to add? Sound off with your favorite San Juan restaurant below!