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“Absolutely wonderful experience!!!”
Review of Santaella

Santaella
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Ranked #23 of 1,045 Restaurants in San Juan
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $25 - $100
Cuisines: Caribbean, Seafood, International, Puerto Rican
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: La Placita de Santurce
Transit: Stop #19. Bus lines: A5, B21, M3, B16
Description: Chef José Santaella has trained with some of the best chefs in the world, including Ferrán Adriá, Eric Ripert, and Gary Danko. His apprenticeships and successful catering career paved the way for Santaella, his signature restaurant in Santurce's La Placita Marketplace. The decor is rustic yet elegant, with exposed walls, Edison light fixtures, an interior garden, and a sparkling bar. Chef Santaella fuses local and international ingredients to perfectly execute Puerto Rican nouvelle cuisine. The menu is dominated by tapas, which you can easily make into a meal. Favorites include the ahi tuna skewers, goat cheese quesadilla, 'alcapurrias' topped with crab, and foie gras terrine with fruit jelly . The cocktail bar is one of the best on the island, so don't leave without trying one of the concoctions by Santaella's mixologists. -Fodors
Reviewed January 23, 2013

Thank you for an excellent meal!!!!

We had a little trouble finding Santaella in the first place but that had much more to do with the driver (me) not following the GPS well enough not with where the restaurant was located. From the moment we walked in we were struck by the eclectic decor of the cozy dining area and the cool glass facade behind the ample bar area. The staff at Santaella were welcoming even as we had to downsize our party because of no-shows and immediately found us a smaller table than they had planned for.

The service we received from Juan Carlos was second to none throughout our meal. He immediately offered to decant our bottle of wine which we had to ask special for at other restaurants in the area and offered his personal recommendations on everything from the appetizers to the main courses and desserts. He was also very capable of providing in depth descriptions of the complex menu items and specials from memory. You could really tell throughout that he felt an ownership and pride in the restaurant that is definitely not par for the course in my experience.

As for the food, we ordered the chicken croquets which came out super fast and the pistachio & almond crusted veal chops. Both were extremely tasty, especially the veal chops that came with a tamarind barbeque sauce. Our main courses were the Filet Mignon served over a sweet plantain puree and a creole sauce and a scallop special that was served over a risotto that was colored with squid ink. My filet was cooked perfectly and the sweetness of the plantain puree was balanced by the creole sauce that accompanied it. My wife's scallop special was excellent as well, the risotto was bit harsh until it was put together with the sauce on the scallops. The scallops themselves were large and cooked just as perfectly as my Filet.

The finishing touch was the grilled Nutella sandwich with Frangellica cream and covered in powdered sugar. The only word I can use to describe this amazing creation is WOW!!!!

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Thank ncsujuri
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ktoro, Owner at Santaella, responded to this reviewResponded January 26, 2013

Thank you for your wonderful review! We look forward to having you back again soon. ¡Gracias!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 23, 2013

This is probably as great a restaurant as I have ever visited. Superb service, magnificent food and a perfect ambiance . I had scallops on a bed of risotto prepared with black squid ink that was out of this world. This will be a repeat every time I am in San Juan.

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Thank ELP733
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ktoro, Public Relations Manager at Santaella, responded to this reviewResponded January 26, 2013

Thank You for your review! We look forward to your next visit. ¡Gracias!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2013

Santaella is a relative newcomer to the San Juan scene, opening on or about 2011. The chef has decided to focus on a small menu and do it well, which is so much better than many places that give you pages and pages of choices. The steak, lamb shanks and sea bass dishes were great, prepared with very interesting side dishes, and done to perfection. The appetizer menu has lots of goodies, from raw tuna skewers that were delicious, to little empanadas filled with corned beef, and other goodies. The cuisine is trendy but hearty, so if you have a good appetite you won't be disappointed!
The restaurant is in a renovated old house right off the "La Placita" area in Santurce. This is or used to be an open air grocery market and has become a nighttime hangout, especially Thursday and Friday nights, when the neighborhood is invaded by loudness. If you like crowds and parties, then eating here on a Thursday night and then bar hopping is a good alternative. If you don't, then you won't feel a thing once inside Santaella. It is VERY well decorated, modern yet cozy and warm, and from the people there (I have been twice, once for dinner and once for lunch) you can see that it has become a hit with the locals, as all the beautiful people there seemed to know each other! We also spotted a movie star from Fast and Furious, rapper Tego Calderon. So it's trendy AND good, and priced accordingly, with $15 appetizers and about $30 main courses. Normal these days.
Why not full star rating? The place needs to train its wait staff much better. When there for lunch I ordered an iced tea and was brought a glass, I asked for a packet of Splenda which never arrived. Also when I finished it, the empty glass sat there for the rest of my meal, with the waiter never bothering to ask if I might like some more. So I drank the water. When we were done eating, the waiter picked up half of our plates, and never came back for the rest, and he made a face when we asked him to pick them up. I realize it is tough to train and retain good service staff in Puerto Rico, but if the owners make that extra effort they should have a classic place that will be here as long as they keep up the excellent quality of their food and maintain the place well.

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Thank DAAFY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ktoro, Owner at Santaella, responded to this reviewResponded January 26, 2013

Thank You for your review! We look forward to provide you a better service next time you visit us. ¡Gracias!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 15, 2013

We went to this restaurant with a business partner this evening. The food was excellent. Perfect portion sizes, ingredients were fresh, and I finished it all with their warm chocolate cake. I will go back.

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Thank JeffM-Utah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ktoro, Owner at Santaella, responded to this reviewResponded January 26, 2013

Thank You for your review! We look forward to having you back soon! ¡Gracias!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 10, 2013

What I liked a bout this place? Everything!
We had a reservation for 6 adults and 2 kids, and it turns out that it's not so easy to find a highly rated place in San Juan which can accommodate such group.
Although I can't specifically recommend this place for kids; it's more of the trendy type; stuff did everything possible to make us feel comfortable.
The food was outstanding and waiter did fantastic job ensuring that all the orders (and we had a complicated ones) are delivered in right order.
One more thing, even though it's mentioned on their web site, don't forget to dress up when going there; they probably won't turn you down, but one might feel quite uncomfortable in shorts and t's. Nice slacks and shirt for guys and cocktail dress for ladies are recommended.

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Thank AlexB38
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ktoro, General Manager at Santaella, responded to this reviewResponded January 13, 2013

Thank you for your review. We are in the hospitality business and enjoy being very accommodating to all our guests all the time. I'm glad you had a good experience and look forward to your next visit.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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