Old San Juan is a 500-year-old city with historic forts, sprawling plazas, and delicious restaurants. If you want to immerse yourself in all this city has to offer, a walking tour is one of the best ways. While I’ve done my own self-guided walking tour of Old San Juan in the past, I was delighted to discover The Spoon Experience’s popular tours of Old San Juan. During my second trip to San Juan, I participated in their Sunset Walk & Taste Tour, discovering many Puerto Rican culinary delights, historic sites, and more. It was the perfect way to sample the city’s delicious flavors and learn about its history and culture.
The Sunset Walk & Taste Tour was a sponsored experience. All opinions are my own.
What is The Spoon Experience?
The Spoon Experience is a Puerto Rican culinary and cultural tourism company founded in 2012. Their mission is to authentically connect travelers to Puerto Rico through its cuisine and culture. The company is run by a group of passionate Puerto Ricans who refer to themselves as ‘classically trained misfits.’ They come from various professions, but the one thing unites them all is a deep love of Puerto Rico. I definitely felt that during my tour of San Juan with The Spoon Experience.
The company partners with local business owners – chefs, cooks, farmers, bartenders, waiters, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs – to put together their tours. The team consistently searches for the tastiest dishes, creative cocktails, and interesting places around San Juan. They sift through the clutter to bring us the best of what San Juan has to offer, with a focus on culture, cuisine, and hospitality.
What is the Sunset Walk & Taste Tour?
The Spoon Experience offers a variety of cultural food tours, cooking classes, workshops, and other types of events to showcase authentic Puerto Rico to travelers. The Sunset & Taste Tour, as the name implies, is an evening tour consisting of culinary experiences and visits to important cultural sites around Old San Juan. This is a small group tour that is currently capped at 12 people. It’s ideal for foodies and history buffs who want to sample savory bites while learning about the history and culture behind the dishes and the city.
My Experience during the Sunset Walk & Taste Tour
On a rainy evening in Old San Juan, we kicked off the Sunset Walk & Taste Tour with our tour guide, Ana. After meeting at Plaza de Armas, we began our walk to the first restaurant on the itinerary, Juanes. I was curious whether the restaurant was connected to the Colombian singer of the same name, so I asked Ana. The answer was no.
After taking my seat at our first restaurant, Juanes, the waiters soon brought out the first course: a sweet and savory Mofongo made with ripe plantains and a tandoori-like chicken. Upon tasting the dish, I went to food heaven. It was incredibly delicious! During my two visits to San Juan, I ate my weight in Mofongo, but I instantly knew this was the tastiest Mofongo I had ever tried. The chicken was tender and perfectly cooked. The mashed plantains were surprisingly sweet, a detour from the usual unripe, green plantains used to make Mofongo.
As we devoured our Mofongo, our tour guide, Ana, demonstrated how the dish was made. She brought out a mortar and pestle and walked us through the process of smashing the plantains with garlic and butter to create the mashed dish. I downed my Mofongo with a complimentary beer, and we were off to the next stop.
Calle de la Fortaleza
On our way to the next restaurant, we stopped at the famous umbrella street in Old San Juan, Calle de La Fortaleza. During my last visit to Old San Juan in 2019, protests blocked the street off. I finally got my umbrella street picture while learning about the history behind the blue cobblestone streets in Old San Juan. Europeans brought them as ballasts in the 18th century, made from iron.
Hotel El Convento
Hotel El Convento had been at the top of places I wanted to explore in Old San Juan, so it was a pleasant surprise when we arrived here. At the restaurant, we sampled a tasty ceviche made with fresh fish. I cleaned out the plate. In addition to eating the savory ceviche, I also enjoyed the hotel’s ambiance. The restaurant is in a courtyard with an open roof and wines cascading down the sides of the building. It made for a rustic, nature-like atmosphere.
La Puerta de La Bandera
I love street art, so I was delighted to finally stop at this famous flag mural, La Puerta de La Bandera. Ana told us that the black Puerto Rican flag symbolizes resistance against corruption. Puerto Rico has a long and storied political history and a vibrant activism culture. I snapped a few pictures and captured some videos here. Then we were off to our next stop, a bar.
La Taberna Lúpulo
La Tabern Lúpulo is a bar I previously visited in 2019 when I took a solo trip to San Juan. It is one of the most iconic breweries in the city, with 40 beers on tap and 200 beers on can. AT the bar, we sampled a drink called beermosa, a combination of beer and passion fruit juice. We also munched on Cubano sandwiches. While they hail from Cuba, these sandwiches are popular in Puerto Rico.
Last but not least, we made a stop at the popular local restaurant, Deaverdura, a spot that plenty of locals had recommended to me. Here, we sampled a classic Puerto Rican dish consisting of rice and beans and pork. By this time, I was already full, but I enjoyed it. The Mofongo I had in the beginning was a tough act to follow, but this dish was up there.
In addition to the rice and beans, I also sampled a tamarind drink, a delicious confection! I love anything with tamarind but typically gravitate towards candy, instead of drinks. This was a fantastic way to end the Sunset Walk & Taste Tour on a high note.
The Sunset Walk & Taste Tour is a great way to get a taste of some delicious Puerto Rican cuisine, but also learn about the history and culture of the city. I had a blast during the tour, from tasting the delicious cuisine to discovering the culture of the city from a different lens. I took lots of notes on my iPhone.
Our guide, Ana, gave us so much insider info on what it’s like to be Puerto Rican and live in Puerto Rico, from the slang to the politics. I ate (and learned) so much! If you’re visiting San Juan and looking for a way to taste the cuisine and immerse yourself in the best that the city has to offer, I would highly recommend this tour.
Travel Essentials I Can’t Live Without
The CabinZero 36L Backpack – this trusty backpack has been my go-to luggage for both domestic and international trips since 2018. I’ve used dozens of backpacks over the years and keep coming back to this one. I almost never check in luggage so I need a carry-on bag that is spacious, sturdy, and comfortable, with a laptop compartment. The Cabin Zero 36 L fits the bill. The size makes it small enough for a weekend getaway and big enough for a month of backpacking in Europe. The bag also comes with a tracker in case it gets lost. How convenient! Check out my complete review of the backpack.
Travel Wifi Portable Hotspot Device
Travel WiFI Pocket WIFI Device – With portable WiFi, you can say goodbye to ridiculous roaming charges and SIM cards for good. I’ve been using the Travel WiFi Portable Hotspot device for years and love the peace of mind it gives me. The device provides 3G-4G WiFi for at least 6 hours and works in 100+ countries. In my experience, it lasts 9 hours. It also works in a variety of landscapes and terrains. I even filmed a Facebook Live from a boat in the Atlantic Ocean using my device. I can also use Google Maps, request an Uber, call my mom, and do tons of other things I couldn’t do before. Quick tip: turn off the device when you’re not using it so that the battery can last longer.
Booking.com – Booking.com is my go-to website for booking discounted accommodations around the world. What I love most about Booking.com is the variety of properties you can find, from luxury apartments to treehouses to university housing. It’s hard to beat the insanely low prices. The website also has a flexible cancellation policy, which is great if things come up or you change your mind.