San Juan Neighborhoods: Guide to Hato Rey

••• Javierpuertorico via Wikimedia Commons

Hato Rey is the island's banking district and the closest thing to a downtown that Puerto Rico has. The stretch of road along which you'll find a proud cluster of skyscrapers represents most of the money on the island, and is known as "The Golden Mile." As such, this neighborhood is more a business traveler's destination than it is a tourist hotspot.

But don't write Hato Rey off entirely. The largest mall in the Caribbean is here.

It's the place where Puerto Ricans come to check out a concert, watch a baseball game, or spend the day in the park. And it's home to one of the biggest musical events on the island.

Where to Stay

Honestly, there's nothing here in the way of lodging. And no need to stay here when the great hotels and inns in the rest of San Juan are relatively close by.

Where to Eat

Many restaurants along F.D. Roosevelt Avenue, the main thoroughfare through Hato Rey, cater to the business crowd. The good ones include:

  • El Paseo - A favorite for its homey Puerto Rican and Cuban fare, laid back atmosphere and decent prices.
  • El Bodegón de Gaspar - At this authentic Spanish restaurant, Chef Gaspar Ballestero offers excellent tapas, entrees and, naturally, Paella Valenciana Trios provide live music Thursday through Monday.
  • El Zipperle - An unusual combination of Spanish and German cuisine, El Zipperle is an old-fashioned Hato Rey institution.

    What to See and Do

    For events, you can't beat Hato Rey:

    Beyond that, you have the parks:

    • Parque Lineal Enrique Marti Coll has a 1.5-mile-long elevated trail that's great for running and biking.
    • Parque Luis Muñoz Marín is spread over 140 acres, with walking and biking trails, children’s playgrounds, an amphitheater, golf practice areas, and a cable car service across its length.

    Where to Shop

    Chances are if you came to Hato Rey, you came to shop, and if you came to shop, you came for Plaza Las Américas, Puerto Rico's mega mall. With more than 300 shops, you can buy anything from a pair of socks to a car here. In addition, you have cinemas, bowling lanes, and all manner of food court options. The Plaza is a gathering place for locals and a good place to go if you have a lot of stuff to buy in a short amount of time. The mall is quite beautiful, with sculptures and works of art dotted throughout the place.

    Where to Go Out at Night

    Two places come to mind immediately, and they're both in the same place: 20 pa K is a Teppanyaki Lounge in Plaza Las Américas, overlooking the Galaxy Lanes bowling alley. On weekend nights, it's not a bad combo.