Local Gems in Puerto Rico

Casita Miramar in Puerto Rico

There’s always that moment as the seasons change, when you decide you just need to get away. The man and I decided to do just that at some point early on and made plans for a quick trip to Puerto Rico.

Thank goodness for friends who helped make our spontaneous little flit to a tropical island into more of a great dive into some of the little gems that the resorts don’t necessarily direct tourists to.

Our first discovery took place on our second night after a day of sun bathing on the beach. All that sunshine and sassy little tropical cocktails had made us fairly ravenous for dinner and our friend James came through with a spectacular dinner recommendation in San Juan just 15 minutes from our hotel on Isla Verda – Casita Miramar.

My clever man made reservations while we were sprawled out by the ocean earlier in the day, so we headed down to Miramar in the early evening after we brushed off the sand and cleaned up a bit. Explored a bit of the local architecture…


And visited some local businesses that specialized in fermented beverages (wine & beer).


Then we meandered the quiet streets to the location of the once legendary Toro Hotel, where Casita Miramar is now located.


Through a narrow doorway, you climb the stares through a lush little jungle. We opted for the outside dining option and were escorted up another set of stairs to the porch.



We were led to one of a handful of tables, but instead of being handed menus, the friendly wait-staff pulled up an extra chair and plopped down a chalkboard crammed with a variety of dishes that were on offer that night.

Never having seen anything like this, we carefully read all the dishes wondering which amazing combination of new flavors we wanted to try. Our server, who swiftly walked us through all the favorite items on the menu, helped us make our selections which turned out to be numerous.

Each so delicious though…


An amuse bouche was delivered before our server had even disappeared around the corner, which we both eagerly attacked.


It was a fried cod fritter paired with a plantain soup (their known for these), both of which went extremely well with the homemade hot sauce that N just couldn’t wait to try.


Dish after amazing dish followed…




Spicy, salty and sour flavors all flirted and mingled so perfectly in each dish.


Our taste buds were positively tingling with satisfaction by the time our server mentioned desserts.

We rallied our strength, took a deep breath (unbuttoned the top pants button) and ordered the pumpkin creme brulee, which really should get its own meal all on its own, it was so incredible.

After one final shot of a clear licorice liquor, on the house (bless them), we happily though somewhat painfully waddled our full bellies out of the restaurant.

After such an amazing and decadent meal, we knew we needed to work off some of the excess, so we met up with some  friends, who happened to be San Juan locals, and allowed them to navigate the construction filled streets to a secret destination. We wound through back streets, no bigger than an alley, and parked in private lot where your car was directed into a tight spot like an airplane into a terminal.

Having no idea where we were, we blindly followed our friends down more allies and skinny streets, seeing more and more people walking in the same general direction as if being called my some silent signal.

Unexpectedly, we turned a corner and walked right into a street filled with bodies.


Small bars and cafes had their doors thrown open on either side of the street, people spilling out of each, leaning against parked motorcycles and chairs dragged from no where. Music bubbled out of each bar, sounds battling each other as well as the shouts and laughter from the crowds of locals slowly moving through the streets.


We turned to our friends to ask where we were and they explained we were in a spot, almost exclusively local (because they were the only ones who knew about it) because in the daytime, the area called “La Placita de Santurce,” is actual a produce market and not really a hot spot for tourists.

At night though… at night it’s like an unassuming stone that’s turned over to reveal a startling little gem.

Encouraged by friends, not to mention the few drinks consumed at the first couple of bar stops we made, N got a bit adventurous and accepted a mystery shot…


Which he almost immediately regretted.


We all laughed about it.

Passing a pair of large avocado sculptures, we promptly stopped to pose for a couple quick snaps….



Before finally calling it a night. Thank goodness we weren’t left to our own devices to navigate the maze of streets.

We made it back to the hotel in the wee morning hours, happy and totally impressed by our night’s adventures.

Watch the vlog of our first day, including some bits from our dinner for more details on our first day in Puerto Rico!

You can also watch other videos on my vlog channel, ShannonJPVlogs.

6 thoughts on “Local Gems in Puerto Rico

  1. Pixie Dust Savings (@PixieDustSaving)

    What a fun adventure! The food looks amazing and how cool is it that you got to experience a locals only place- those are always the best!


    1. Shannon @ A Dash of Sparkle

      Thanks! It was a really great trip!


  2. Krayl Funch (@kraylfunch)

    Fun! I have had PR on my bucket list for too long!


    1. Shannon @ A Dash of Sparkle

      It’s definitely worth a visit. I definitely recommend looking at some package deals too, there are great savings in those!


  3. NikkyJ

    Great post with beautiful photos!


    1. Shannon @ A Dash of Sparkle

      Thank you so much! It’s more beautiful in person. 🙂


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