El Charro in San Juan, Puerto Rico – Mexican food with pleasure
Being new to the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, we quickly needed places to eat that would remind me of home. One of our favorite cuisines is Mexican, so we asked a friend if she was new to a good Mexican restaurant in the area. He took us to his favorite and he immediately became our favorite too.
El Charro, in San Juan’s Puerta de Tierra neighborhood, sits quietly at the end of a busy but narrow street in a working-class part of town. Parking is only available on the street, but there always seems to be enough. Inside, the restaurant is quite small on the top floor, with six tables and a small counter area. However, there are additional seats on the ground floor, where concerts and special parties are also held. The decoration is simple but fun. Bright colors are peppered on the walls where strange artifacts of Mexican heritage hang, including the required sombrero. The tables are of a woven, almost wicker design, probably handcrafted.
But food and drink is the reason we end up there almost once a week. The margaritas are the best we’ve had in a long time. Made with fresh lemon juice and good tequila, they are easy to drink before, during and after a meal. The food is typical Mexican, with tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and other standards. Start with the standard chips and salsa, both of which are very good. As an aperitif, we like to have Queso Fundido con Chorizo, which is melted cheese and chorizo pieces, or Pico De Gallo, which is tomatoes, onions, coriander, cheese and avocado. Our favorite dish is the Tripleta Burrito, which combines chicken, steak, and bacon (healthy!) Along with lettuce, tomato, onion, and cilantro. The burrito is then topped with a large dollop of melted cheese and some decorative fries. The Tripleta Tacos are hand-fried corn tortillas filled with only the meat filling. If you still have room after that, try the Flan de Tequila; subtle hints of tequila on a creamy flan. The prices are very reasonable (if you don’t have too many margaritas).
The owners of El Charro recently celebrated their fifth anniversary with a nightly party open to all. Puerto Rican musicians Download sat outside and played wonderful music while guests enjoyed great food and wonderful drinks.
El Charro is not in an area frequented by tourists in San Juan, but during lunch and dinner it is almost always full. Even in the middle of the afternoon there are usually two tables occupied. The locals of San Juan know a great restaurant when they find it. And based on the number of returning diners (the owner seems to know everyone who walks in the door), El Charro is one of those great restaurants.