It’s not new news that Puerto Rico is a wonderful destination for LGBTQ+ vacationers. In fact, right on the island’s official website, it proudly touts that it’s “one of the most LGBTQ-friendly islands in the Caribbean.” There are simply pages upon pages of resources and how-tos and where-ats on DiscoverPuertoRico.com.
The capital, San Juan, is where you’ll find the highest concentration of rainbow flags, but by no means is that where you should limit your island wanderings. Instead, try Rincon—a surfer haven with a fast-growing population of queer folks, progressive businesses, and the former embarking on the latter.
For example, Mangia Mi, a lesbian-owned and -operated eatery that delights with sass and sauce in equal parts. This restaurant by former Northerners Chef Rebecca White-Keefe—winner of Cooks vs. Cons in 2016—and Kara Keefe makes their own pasta in house and breaks out their menu with light humor, with titles like Get Baked. However, the food itself is serious, even if the vibe is down to earth. A long list of small plates, pizzas, and big entrees means you can “fuhgeddaboud” leaving hungry.
In a recent interview, Kara shared some of her favorite spots as a lesbian in Rincon. On the tip of her tongue was The English Rose, which is at the tip of the city’s highest point. A British-inspired menu with cheeky names for their dishes make it clear why it’s the wine expert’s vibe. One of the most popular dishes at their renowned breakfast is called the Dead Elvis and features French toast made with housemade bread topped with caramelized bananas, of course. You can get this and any other breakfast dish from their extensive menu all day, and vice versa. So if your idea of an eye-opener is ceviche with wild-caught shrimp, wings, a “Greekish” salad, a chicken sandwich on a plantain bun, or hell, La La’s Homestyle Carrot Cake or the flan of the day, have at it. No one’s judging … which is right on brand for Rincon. Just hurry to get there before dinner, since they only have service through 4 PM on weeknights and 1 PM on weekends.
Another intimate inn with a restaurant that she recommends is Casa Islena, which serves brunch daily and dinner Fridays through Wednesdays. The Bloody Marys are recommended with a side of pool, as they can be served right there on the terrace. Order by the DIY carafe set for a group and pair it with croissant French toast, churrasco steak and eggs, pinchos, or a burger. Dinner brings in hearty fare like skirt steak with chimichurri, spaghetti chorizo, fresh catch, and appetizer boards.
Even more off the main grid local favorites are La Copa Llena at The Black Eagle on the marina and Parrilleria Vacas Gauchas, both of which don’t even have their own websites. Despite this, they’re popular, well-reviewed, and well-known to savvy travelers and locals.
But if it’s a bit louder of a presence you want, head to The Beach House at the top of Maria’s Beach on the nights they have live music. It’s warm, inviting, and happening without being overwhelming. Or, you can ramp up the energy at Tamboo Beside the Pointe, a Rincon staple for over 40 years now. This two-story restaurant and bar is the place for dancing, featuring a range of music. They’ve been known to book DJs specializing in electronic, pop, and house to bomba percussionists to local bands.