We had an evening flight out of San Juan on New Year’s Eve, and, after some morning beach time, headed over to Old San Juan for some more touring and lunch. We had toured part of the old fortifications, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, earlier, and now went to the Castillo San Cristobal section. The two actually form one continuous fortification connected by tunnels, and del Morro is a World Heritage Site. Beyond the historical aspects, it offers sensational views of the waves crashing against the rock-bound coast of San Juan, and of the colorful buildings of Old San Juan.
After the Castillo, Nancy and I decided to eat. We found the first recommendation had closed permanently, the second was closed for the day, and the third had a 45 minute wait — at 2:00 p.m.! The cruise ships apparently recommend the place. Under the circumstances, getting a table at Princesa Gastrobar was out of the question, so we wandered farther from the cruise ships. When hope seemed lost, we happened upon Bari. It’s in an old building with seating both indoors and in a shaded courtyard. The courtyard was pretty and quiet, an oasis amid the bustle of the cruise passenger-ridden streets of Old San Juan. And once they acknowledged our presence, the service was reasonably prompt and very friendly.
Bari has been adjudged to have the best pizza in San Juan, and it well may. They also have a full menu, however, and Nancy, undaunted by her Ropa Vieja experience, ordered the grouper.
Nancy was very enthusiastic about her grouper. With characteristic graciousness, she let me have a bite, and I completely agree with her assessment. It was a remarkable find, especially in a place known for its pizza.
I ordered the daily special, carne guisada, which was basically a beef stew with potatoes, carrots, onions, and a little green pepper. It came with rice and beans.
The stew was good, not great, but a nice beef stew with a light Latin touch. The beans were very good, chock full of vegetables and with distinctively Puerto Rican-Cuban seasoning. The beans were the best I had in San Juan. (I always got rice and pigeon peas, but I usually helped with Nancy’s rice and beans.) All in all, a good meal.
Bari wasn’t our first choice, but I’m glad we tried it. The food was good — at times excellent — and it’s a pleasant setting.
You will notice the hat next to my plate. This was during the salad days between the Georgia game and the Clemson game, where Alabama was beaten like a red-headed stepchild. I note for the record that I am wearing my Alabama belt as I write. I am not the sunshine soldier or summer patriot who, in this time of crisis, shrinks from the support of his team. And, I have found, I get good restaurant information and meet interesting people when I’m wearing Alabama gear.
That’s me with the Secretary of Defense, Dexter Manley, discussing the relative popularity of Nick Saban and Bear Bryant.
Keep Bari in mind for Old San Juan. give it a try.
And while you’re at it, click “follow” on our front page to receive blog posts in your email box. Or bookmark us and check in from time to time. If you’re planning a trip, you can “Search” the name of the destination city, state, or country for good restaurants (in Europe, often close to sites, like the Louvre or the Van Gogh Museum, that you’ll want to visit in any event). Comments, questions, and suggestions of places to eat or stories to cover are very welcome. And check out our Instagram page, johntannerbbq.