Santaella Restaurant In San Juan, Puerto Rico – Honest Review (2024)

San Juan, Puerto Rico is a cultural melting pot.

It is easy to taste the influence of these cultures in the food here.

Santaella Restaurant, where Chef Jose Santaella offers authentic “criollo” food with a modern twist, is one of my favorites in San Juan. I take special friends, family, and clients to this restaurant as my treat and token of my appreciation.

I will review Santaella Restaurant in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in this article, and I will answer the following questions:

What type of food is served at Santaella Restaurant?
Where is it located?
Is this a good restaurant for tourists?
Is it expensive?


What type of food is served at Santaella Restaurant?

Tapas are the stars of the menu.

Chef José Santaella trained with world-class chefs, including Ferrán Adriá, Eric Ripert, and Gary Danko.

Santaella has learned international techniques that he applies to enhance Puerto Rican dishes.

image of Chef Jose Santaella
Chef Jose Santaella Restaurant fuses local and international ingredients to create what he calls “Puerto Rican nouvelle cuisine.”

Restaurant Santaella offers a diverse menu divided into sections with English and Spanish names.

Let’s go through Santaella’s Menu!


Starters or Para Picar 

I suggest the Empanadillas or “Turnovers”; they have a different flavor daily.

image of Santaella’s famous turnovers
Santaella’s famous empanadillas or turnovers.

Try the Morcilla Artesanal Crujiente, a crispy artisanal Puerto Rican Blood Sausage served with a local spicy mayo dip.

The Wagyu Beef Sliders in freshly baked brioche deserve a special mention.

They prepare them with blue cheese, local lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and red wine cilantro mayo.

The Raw “Crudos” section has two items: Ahi Tuna Skewers (they are good) and the Ceviche de Peto y Salmon, a Fresh wahoo ‘ono’ and salmon ceviche prepared with tropical juices, tomato, sriracha, and sweet potato purée.



In the salads menu, you can choose from three different salads:

A Peeled organic cherry tomato salad with homemade parmesan cheese ice cream (yes, ice cream), micro basil, pine nuts, balsamic vinaigrette, and focaccia toast.

image of Santaella’s Avocado Salad
Santaella’s Avocado Salad with fresh cheese ginger dressing.

The Fresh Avocado Salad with local fresh cheese ginger dressing is my favorite.

Santaella also serves a brussels sprout salad with pancetta & sauteed onions, cashew nuts, white cheddar, and balsamic vinegar.

They have a daily soup or sopa del dia.


Main dishes:

They divided the main dishes into two groups: 

From the sea, or “del mar,” and meat and poultry, “carnes y aves.”

image of Santaella’s Fried Red Snapper
Santaella’s Fried Red Snapper or Chillo Frito.

If you like to eat fish, try the Chillo Frito, a Crisp fresh fried red snapper with cilantro mojo, fried green plantains “tostones.”

The Oriental Salmon Fillet and The Jumbo Shrimp in garlic cream sauce are also good.

Meat lovers will be delighted with the Certified Angus beef filet mignon over mushroom cream sauce served with corn rice.

Those who like poultry can try the Boneless Chicken in a creole stew over creamy polenta.

Santaella Restaurant offers a large selection of cocktails, beers, and wines.



When you go to Santaella, save room for dessert.

The restaurant offers six different desserts.

image of Santaella’s Chocolate Cake with Housemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Santaella’s Chocolate Cake served with made in house vanilla ice cream.

They are so good that I don’t have a favorite.


Where is it located?

You will find Santaella Restaurant at Calle Canals 219, San Juan Puerto Rico.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Santaella:

Read up on the area in our article Santurce – All You Need To Know.


Is this a good restaurant for tourists?

Yes. Restaurant Santaella is a good restaurant for tourists.

image of people enjoying Santaella’s Restaurant
Santaella’s Restaurant has a beautiful interior that is a mix of modern and tropical, creating the perfect ambiance for your vacation.

Sanataella fuses Puerto Rican cuisine with international flavors.

They get most of their produce from a local farmer’s market nearby.

The food is fresh, and the staff is friendly.


Is it expensive?

Yes. Santaella Restaurant is expensive.

image of Santaella's dishes
A preview of the dishes you can find at Santaella.

Check out Santaella’s menu on their Facebook Page.

You will see that their prices are higher than those of an average restaurant, but, believe me, Santaella is worth every dollar you pay.


Final thoughts

Restaurant Santaella in San Juan offers what Chef Jose Santaella calls Puerto Rican nouvelle cuisine.

At Santaella, you will experience fine cuisine and Puerto Rican style.

For more information about dining in Puerto Rico, visit our article 35 Best Restaurants in Puerto Rico.

Santaella Restaurant In San Juan, Puerto Rico – Honest Review (2024)
Article by

Carlos Cubero

Writer at I was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. I’m passionate about Puerto Rican history and culture. I live on the west coast of Puerto Rico, and host an Airbnb for tourists. I also coordinate tours and concierge services for tourists. I authored “Eat Like A Local, Puerto Rico”, and have contributed to blogs and magazines with articles about discovering and enjoying what Puerto Rico has to offer.

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