Mario Pagán, San Juan, Puerto Rico

After my heroic breakfast and a lovely lunch at Princesa Gastrobar in Old San Juan, we decided to try the upscale and highly regarded Mario Pagán back in Condado.  Again, it was only a few blocks from our hotel, and almost lost among a gaggle of other restaurants, all with brassier signage.

Mario Pagán is not at all brassy.  It is sleek, elegant, and subdued.  Even our waiter had a wry and dry sense of humor.

Nancy ordered butterflied trout with manchego mashed potatoes.

mario pagan n

Very good.

And I ordered a halibut fillet over white bean stew cooked with pork longaniza, and with crisp rye toast crumbled over the stew.  Za’atar butter, a blend of middle eastern spices melded into butter, is mixed into the stew.

mario pagan mine

It really worked.  It was a marvelous blend of flavors and textures  I asked the waiter to bring back the menu so that I could remember each of the ingredients.  Later, I looked up longaniza, which here is a dense sausage, oh, halfway between chorizo and linguica, and at Mario Pagan with some merguez seasoning.  You need to try this.

And I would have liked to try other things there.  The menu is creative with lots of interesting dishes.  Here’s the online version of their menu.  (The Bites are for one person and the Tastes are to share.)  Of course it changes often, and there also are daily specials.  I recommend that you try Mario Pagán, and that you choose a day when you haven’t eaten a huge breakfast and a late and very satisfying lunch — when you have the appetite to do the menu justice.

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