On the Island of Enchantment, seafood is plentiful and pork is king. There’s even a highway dedicated to serving up whole roasted pigs right on the side of the road, beckoning drivers, locals, and travelers in with the smell of juicy meat and dozens of dishes to choose from.
Vegans fear not. We have many options here in San Juan to try fresh, plant-based, cruelty free, healthy, and meatless dishes. I want to make a small disclaimer here before we start. I am not vegan. I NEVER buy conventional meat in the store but if I am hungry on the beach and there is literally nothing else around except for pinchos (chicken skewers) and bacalaitos (fried fish thing) I’m not going to starve myself. I’m not going to shame myself or act guilty either. I just focus on having a healthier alternative later.
I’m not going to lie, I love goat cheese and when I’m responsible enough to have my own house one day with a large yard for a garden and animal area, I will have goats to make my own. I will also have hens and roosters running around for eggs. But, for now, I don’t so I try to make 90% of my meals vegan. But if I hear a great recommendation for a quesito you can pretty much count on me being there to try one. (Like what I’m currently doing at Double Cake in Santurce, San Juan) ANYWAY, here are my favorite vegan restaurants in San Juan for when you want to eat a little more fresh. Their Instagram are linked in the header so you can go creep!
El Punto Vegano is the very first vegan restaurant I went to here in San Juan. I visited this restaurant, located on the trendy street of Calle Loiza, when I was not vegan with a couple friends (one who was vegan). We had two different vegan pizzas and they were sooooo good. I honestly am put off by some vegan cheeses (looking at you Daiya) but here they make their cheese from the yucca plant! To be honest, it doesn’t really look like cheese on a pizza but it tastes so good. I didn’t even know you could make cheese from a root plant. The other kind is soy based. Recently, I visited El Punto Vegano and had items from their hot bar. I had the pastel which is Puerto Rico’s version of a tamale, made with yucca, carrot, and something else inside (sorry I don’t remember). It was pretty good. The texture took a little to get used to but you should still try it. Then, I had these INSANE mashed potatoes. You guys, these were the best mashed potatoes I have ever had in my lifetime so far so get them on your plate if you see them on the hot bar. I also had braised carrots in a cilantro sauce. They have really good burgers too.
Bori Vegan is a new one for me. I just tried them out a week ago and I was blown away! Not only do they serve up great looking, healthy, and really fresh food, but they are so nice and didn’t even care to approach me when the power went out to tell me I had to do home. Haha I just sat and worked and when I looked up all the lights in the other room were out and everyone else had left. Gotta love post hurricane Puerto Rico. Anyway, when I was there I had breakfast which was a tofu scramble (second best I’ve ever had), smashed seasoned potatoes, potato bread toast with hummus and avocado on top sprinkled with sprouts, carrots, and cabbage. It was the perfect balanced breakfast and their fresh pressed juice is the best drink to wash everything down and feel light and healthy. Try the Pina fresh with pineapple, starfruit, turmeric and ginger.
For the best vegan sandwiches, tacos, mac and cheese (with coconut bacon) head to Veganizalo in Santurce. You guys, they even made vegan chicken and waffles. And for my amig@s in Spain, they have VEGAN TORTILLA. I haven’t tried that yet but once it’s available, I’m literally going to run there to be your taste tester. The women led team at Veganizalo has a five star rating and for good reason. The food is ridiculous and you won’t believe that what you’re eating is vegan, and the service exceeds expectations.
Another one of my favorite vegan restaurant in San Juan is Cocobana located again, in the Santurce neighborhood. Seriously, if you guys ever visit San Juan and you’re looking for accommodation stay in Santurce for the best cafes, restaurants, and nightlife. Here you can find delicious smoothies (WITHOUT PLASTIC! They use stainless steel straws), fluffy pancakes, not gross vegan burgers, and flavorful tofu scrambles. Cocobana isn’t fully a vegan restaurant since some of their meals have cheese but they have so many vegan options that I figured I should add them to the list!
(sorry, no photo available yet!)
So those are my favorites that I have been to so far in San Juan. There’s a health food store called Freshmart just around the corner to where I live where I pick up vegan mac and cheese and supplements but they also have a restaurant on top of the store. I just haven’t made it there yet. There’s also a place called El Departamento de la Comida which is a farm to table restaurant using plants and herbs from their garden to prepare their meals. The Department of food also specializes in fresh pressed juices. The reason I haven’t been here yet is because they are still rebuilding after the hurricane season of 2017. When they open I will update this post.
There are plenty of other vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants that can accommodate plant-based travelers and they can be found here on Happy Cow. One of my favorites is Ocean Park Cafe where you can get an avocado stuffed with a tofu tikka masala served with veggies. So yummy!
Being a vegan can definitely be intimidating on an island where almost every traditional dish has meat but you can hit up all my favorite vegan restaurants in San Juan and never feel like you’re missing out on great food in Puerto Rico.