Consider yourself both a nightlife connoisseur and a lover of all things Caribbean? Then you couldn't pick a better city to party in than San Juan, Puerto Rico. You can expect salsa music and mojitos, of course, but you'll also find local sounds and flavors left undiscovered by the average tourist. And the best part is that you don't have to wait for the weekend — San Juan is alive and buzzing seven nights per week.
Here is our list of the best nightlife spots in San Juan for every night of the week:
Monday: La Terraza Bonanza or Yerba Buena
Ask a local where the best place to hear Puerto Rican music is and they'll point you in the direction of La Terraza Bonanza, a lively corner hangout spot in Santurce with a small stage and a busy bar where workers sling cold beers for just a few bucks. Starting at 7 p.m., musicians put their hearts and souls into the beats of bomba and plena, two musical styles unique to Puerto Rico and sacred to locals. Don't expect to find many tourists here — just multi-generational crowd in the mood to let loose a little early in the week.
Another excellent option is Yerba Buena, an upscale Cuban restaurant in the Condado neighborhood known for its big band jazz Monday nights and its killer mojitos. The cover charge to sit at a table indoors is a hefty $25, even if you plan to eat dinner. But Humberto Ramirez and his 17-person band certainly make it worth your while, and the passionfruit mojitos will make you linger long after the horns have been packed up.
Tuesday: Mango's Ocean Park
The epic Tuesday "happy hour" at Mango's Ocean Park spans much longer than an hour — starting at 5 p.m. you can enjoy the two-for-one drinks and a double portion of appetizers for the same price. The coco margarita goes down pretty smooth, and regulars always come back for the coconut shrimp, the churrasquito satay, and the voodoo wings.
At just $4 each, the gnocchi de yuca and the spicy slaw appetizers are delicious and could be a meal on their own. Join city folks on the patio or try for a seat in the air-conditioned interior, but be warned that service slows significantly the later it gets. Come early in the evening to secure your order, and then kick back and enjoy the DJ's musical selections while day slips into night.
Wednesday: Bar Bero on Loiza Street
Loiza Street in Ocean Park is lined with new trendy bars and restaurants, adding some variety to the up-and-coming neighborhood of Ocean Park. Don't miss Bar Bero, a barbershop-themed speakeasy where bilingual bartenders serve up seriously respectable craft cocktails on par with those you'd find in New York or Chicago. The bar opens at 7 p.m., but the party doesn't heat up until much later, and goes until 2 a.m.
Thursday: Piso Viejo 1917 on Loiza Street
If it's dancing you want, dancing you'll get. Stop by Piso Viejo 1917 on Loiza Street in Ocean Park, a tapas bar by day and cocktail joint by night. This tiny spot hosts a live salsa band, Los Realengos, every Thursday night starting at 10 p.m.
As the night wears on, it's a struggle to find enough space on the cramped dance floor to get down, but locals always find a way to manage it. Dancers are a mix of experienced salseros and newbies, but the atmosphere is inclusive and non-judgmental.
Friday: La Placita
Buzzing with locals and tourists, La Placita ("the little plaza") is a purely fun experience with a festive atmosphere not unlike Bourbon Street in New Orleans. The open-air party centers around the Mercado de Santurce farmer's market. Dozens of bars and restaurants surrounding the market crank up the music and chill down the beer, and you can choose between wandering from spot to spot and pulling up a chair to take it all in. At La Toñita's Cafe, a can of Medalla is just $1.35 and classic salsa tunes blast from the jukebox late into the night.
Saturday: MIST Rooftop Bar + Kitchen
Most people don't need much convincing to head to a rooftop bar, especially one with a sleek pool and lounge area. At MIST Rooftop Bar + Kitchen, located at the boutique San Juan Water and Beach Club just west of San Juan in Carolina, you'll get something additional: jaw-dropping views of Isla Verde's bright blue, crescent-shaped coastline. Sip cocktails near the pool and listen to house and lounge music spun by a DJ until 1 a.m.
Sunday: La Junta on Loiza Street
Set aside Sunday evenings for a plena jam at La Junta on Loiza Street in Ocean Park. Whole families come to sing along to plena songs performed by a live band comprising a vocalist and a handful of percussionists. Besides cheap beer, this modest and sometimes sweltering bar and restaurant also serves up hamburgers and empanadas. But be prepared for a pause from 6 to 7 p.m. — that's when mass takes place at the cathedral across the street. Afterward, the music resumes and the festivities continue until 10 p.m.