At Old San Juan’s Dragonfly, a Perfect Pairing of Latin America and Asia

Above: Dragonfly (All photos by CJ)

By Alexander Britell

SAN JUAN — It was 10 PM on Tuesday night in Old San Juan, meaning that, unlike most nights in Puerto Rico, things closed on the earlier side.

After a loop around the old city, I happened upon on the lower end of Fortaleza, that seemingly always bustling thoroughfare filled with sidewalk cafes.

But after many hands waved of “closed,” just one eatery was still moving plates: Dragonfly.

I found a seat inside a place that felt far more like New York or Tokyo: a narrow, windowless sliver of a room with black walls, small tables, pulsing music and a crowd that was just beginning its night, not ending it.

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Above: Dragonfly Too, the outdoor enclave of the restaurant

Dragonfly styles itself as serving what it calls “Latinasian” cuisine, a kind of fusion between the flavours of Latin America and Asia.

And, it turned out, the place rather expertly pulls it off.

Starting with a classic Ron del Barrilito on the rocks (which needs no fusion, of course), the meal followed with a serving of duck nachos: actually, wontons in the place of tortilla chips, covered with delectable, shredded duck that would make many an eatery in Beijing blush.

After the Mexico-Peking encounter, the meal followed with an “Asian marinated,” 10-ounce churrasco steak with a clever helping of yuca mofongo balls.

Both dishes were outstanding, and remarkably balanced. The food was fusion, yes, but each region of the world seemed to find equal footing in each dish.

While Dragonfly is actually a veteran of the San Juan food scene, the meal was a perfect example of the continued renaissance of this city’s restaurants — which are, as a whole, among the best in the Caribbean region.