Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for American Express
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The message is clear: San Juan is open for business and ready to welcome travelers once again.
Heading to Puerto Rico soon? Eat and shop at these local restaurants and stores while you’re in San Juan.
When Lin-Manuel Miranda flew into Puerto Rico about a month after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017, he arrived to an island without leaves. “I never thought I’d see winter in Puerto Rico,” Miranda told the press on the opening night of Hamilton in San Juan where he reprised his eponymous role for three weeks in January 2019, to raise money for hurricane relief efforts.
But when travelers arrive in Puerto Rico today, they fly over a green island covered in tropical trees.
Miranda has been pivotal in spreading the word that Puerto Rico is back and ready to welcome travelers once again. His Flamboyan Arts Fund aimed to raise $15 million through selling VIP tickets to the show. But the economic benefits for the recovering island don’t stop now that the show's three-week run is over.
One of the best ways to infuse money into a local economy is to travel there and shop at small businesses. In fact, 67 cents of every dollar spent at small businesses remains in the community, according to Amy Marino, vice president of Global Experiential Marketing & Talent Management at American Express.
Through its Shop Small movement, which recently expanded to Puerto Rico, American Express partnered with local shops and restaurants to get travelers out of their hotels and bolster the local economy when they’re in town.
Here are a few of AFAR’s favorite places to eat and shop local in San Juan, Puerto Rico:
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Mario Pagán Restaurant
Another close friend of Andrés’s who helped feed Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, chef Mario Pagán is at the helm of several restaurants in San Juan. But his namesake restaurant is within a short walk of most hotels in San Juan’s Condado neighborhood. If you’re traveling with a group, order the shared appetizer platter for the table, which includes miniature bites of octopus tacos, ahi tuna tartare, and rabbit pastelillos. The black sea bass with yuca truffle puree is the house specialty, but the yellowtail snapper is caught locally and cooked with a traditional Puerto Rican tomato sauce. 1110 Avenue Magdalena, San Juan, mariopaganrest.com
This article originally appeared online on January 14, 2019; it was updated in February 2019 to include current information.
>> Next: Plan Your Trip with AFAR’s Guide to Puerto Rico
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