This grand Caribbean-Mediterranean restaurant, opened by Joël Robuchon alum Alfredo Ayala, is hands down the most popular restaurant in San Juan—and with good reason. It's set inside a renovated, century-old mansion built by the family of the late actor José Ferrer. The interconnected dining rooms here are all individually decorated; a whitewashed salon adorned with pointillist paintings abuts a sultry, black and red space whose wrought-iron touches lend it a Gothic air. But all are creative, modern, and understated—like Ayala's cuisine. His menus change frequently but might include pork cheeks paired with chickpea gnocchi in a spicy chorizo sauce; or grouper ceviche accompanied by a honey-and-pomegranate-dressed avocado salad.
Tip: You'll have to book your table weeks in advance.
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From the From the May 2008 Food & Wine Go List
<a href="/bestnewchefs/?year=2001&chef=0BD91D5B-3D35-4042-8D97BE2604B8BF32">Craig Stoll (an F&W Best New Chef 2001)</a> runs this inspired Cal-Italian Mission spot, one of the Bay Area's favorite neighborhood restaurants.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.