Plaza del Mercado
- Hidden Restaurant District
- By: QP
La Placita is also a major Farmers Market, where chefs and “regular people” go to buy locally grown/manufactured products as well as the excellent fresh fruit shakes (batidas). The vegetable and fruit stands open daily at 6am. There is a free trolley service from Loíza St. In addition to being a historic local, the whole area now has free WI-FI internet access.
For an unforgettable change of pace in the heart of metropolitan San Juan visit La Placita in Santurce. By day, this compact neighborhood offers the yesteryear atmosphere of Puerto Rico’s small towns and marketplaces; by weekend nights, it resembles a movie set for carnival revelry, without the costumes. At all times, it’s a great place to sample the best of island food.
Most of the streets surrounding La Placita remain little changed from when they were built a century ago. A couple of bars border the market, and small eateries have always been here to feed hungry farmers and shoppers. The oldest, El Popular, opened its doors 45 years ago. Known as fondas, these places serve delicious rice and beans accompanied by chicken, meat or fish. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 p., they offer homestyle Puerto Rican cooking at modest prices. In recent years, more sophisticated restaurants have sprung up. Open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner (11am to 11pm), they showcase an array of cuisines, including creole, international, Angus steaks, fish, Brazilian and Mexican. A small eatery on the plazoleta, El Coco de Luis, serves up such traditional Puerto Rican snack food as chicharrones de pollo (chicken cracklings) and ensaladas de mariscos (seafood vinaigrette).
On weekend evenings, from Thursday through Saturday, the streets surrounding La Placita come alive as thousands of young professionals in casual attire descend to enjoy the small-town, open-air, festive-friendly atmosphere. As is befitting any Puerto Rican party, there is usually live music somewhere in the vicinity.
Nearby attractions include:
• Museo de Arte Contemporáneo - Ave. Ponce de León
• Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico - Ave. de Diego
• Centro de Bellas Artes - Ave. Ponce de León
• Central High School - Ave. Ponce de León