This is a continuation of my post about my trip to Santo Domingo in December 2016.
Santo Domingo Dining
Aside from the one lackluster meal at the Jaragua pool restaurant (see Part 1), we had overwhelmingly wonderful dining experiences throughout Santo Domingo (and on an excursion out to the beach, which will have its own special section in Part 3 of this Adventure Rewind). It would be hard for me to recommend any one of the meals in Santo Domingo over another because each was wonderful and unique, but here is the short list of my favorites:
La Residence: Situated in the Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando, a four-star hotel in the Zona Colonial, La Residence provides a quiet and elegant locale for a great meal. We were originally drawn to the restaurant for its Spanish courtyard dining, which was reminiscent to us of one of our favorite Latin spots, El Picoteo in the Hotel El Convento in San Juan, PR (a review of my favorite spots in San Juan is still yet to come…).
The food and service were both quite good and we were able to get a few views of the hotel, which we still have on our list to try out sometime. Each dish that we had was really great, though the one that sticks in my memory is the seared rare tuna, which was both flavorful and light.
We were at the start of our trip and there was something about the mix of delicious colorful cocktails and the knowledge that it was the middle of the day, in the middle of the week – and all of our colleagues and friends were at work – that made this particular lunch feel so perfect.
Pura Tasca: On the edge of the lovely Plaza España is a little row of restaurants. The first restaurant on that stretch, Pura Tasca, offers a wide selection of delicious entrees and tapas. Our favorite dish was by far the Gnocchi de Plátano Maduro, which was our first time having plantain gnocchi, and we felt that they really just knocked it out of the park. We dined alfresco, and the ambience was wonderful. The service was quite good; we especially appreciated that the hostess provided us with little book lamps to read our dinner menu with on the star-lit patio.
I know that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I personally appreciated the adorable little kitty friend that we made. She sat under our daughter’s high chair nearly all night (likely because she knew that I was a softy that would throw her a few delicious scraps).
Note to the pictures below, unfortunately they really do not do the dishes justice, but were as good as we were able to get on the low-lit patio (we also don’t like to be “those” people who spend 20 minutes doing a photo-shoot of each dish…).
El Meson De La Cava: El Meson De La Cava has become a must-do for many travelers for both its location and its food. The restaurant is situated inside a natural limestone cave with all of the stalagmite splendor that cave promise. They have done an amazing job with the space and have made it both elegant and a bit whimsical. The service is wonderful, with servers dressed formally and trained in all aspects of fine dining. I found the food to be very good, but it was still a few steps down from the best food that I had in the Dominican Republic. It was potentially the most expensive meal that we had on our trip, and we left quite happy and pleased – and felt the expense was worth it – but a lot of that enjoyment came from more than just the food. In my opinion, the ambiance and service are some of the aspects that truly make this restaurant a destination.
We are hoping to get back to El Meson De La Cava on our upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic, in part because we didn’t have an opportunity to enjoy the really beautiful outdoor terrace on our last visit. It almost seems as if there are two separate (similarly ambient) experiences happening simultaneously, and we are eager to get an opportunity to have a drink on their gorgeous patio.
El Conuco: As I have noted, atmosphere means a lot in my enjoyment of restaurants – and while El Conuco is far different from the aforementioned locales, it lands a similar place of distinction in my short list of favorites. El Conuco is the parade to every other restaurant’s march. It is so lively and fun that we wished we could have stayed all night. Everything about the place is bright – the colors, the flavors, the music. And with the music comes the dancing! El Conuco essentially offers dinner with a show as the staff and patrons participate in some latin spins on the dance floor.
The food and drinks are also quite good (the drinks being very STRONG – which made us very lucky to have a hotel within walking distance) and the presentation of the dishes is just as lively and fun as the restaurant itself. I highly recommend the Mofongo, which had the perfect texture and flavor!
Pat’e Palo: Just a few restaurant doors over from Pura Tasca (described above) is the European Brasserie Pat’e Palo. We had actually tried to get a table for dinner at Pat’e Palo, but they were completely booked on our first stop by. Determined to give this highly rated restaurant a try, we tried again for lunch on our last day in Santo Domingo and were pleased to have the opportunity to try it out. We sat on their patio overlooking the Plaza and reveled in the sunshine, wine and delicious food.
Thinking back to this lunch is a bit bittersweet, though, as it brings to mind the mix of emotions that I had that day. A mix of trying to enjoy and soak up every last moment and detail, while pushing away the inevitable sadness that a wonderful trip is coming to a close. There are some vacations where I have been ready to return to regular life by the end, but on this trip in particular, none of us were really quite ready to say goodbye to the relaxation and charm.
That feeling on our last day in Santo Domingo is part of what has spurred us to visit the Dominican again next month. We will have to see if our upcoming trip will also leave us wanting more…but in the meantime, stay tuned for the third and final part of this Adventure Rewind!