“People who think it’s all about rice and beans will be surprised,” says Roberto Treviño of San Juan’s restaurant scene. Treviño, an Iron Chef veteran, chose Condado—the city’s current nexus of all things fabulous—for his latest venture, the Asian-Latin restaurant Budatai. Locals fill it nightly, and also flock to nearby Ummo Argentinean Grill, which is as hot as the wood-fired grill in the kitchen. Carnivores go for the parrillada, a savory selection of chorizo, pork tenderloin, short ribs, sweetbreads, and blood sausage (the faint of heart can opt for the fresh grilled vegetables). Meanwhile, Strip House, in the Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino, serves up T-bones in a boudoir-inspired setting.
Budatai’s open-air dining terrace offers a prime view of the recently reopened, historic La Concha, a tribute to tropical Modernism. The owners spent $220 million on renovations but wisely spared the hotel’s retro-cool shell, including the enormous concrete conch that houses Perla, a seafood restaurant. On weekend nights, the scene at La Concha’s palm-lined pool area is the epitome of Latin chic—bronzed style mavens lounging on rattan furniture, cocktails in hand. By day, you’ll see them at the luxury boutiques lining Ashford Avenue, Condado’s answer to Rodeo Drive and home to local designers like Lisa Cappalli and Nono Maldonado as well as all the major fashion players.