Punta Cana: where to eat tasty food? The best restaurants
As promised in the post about flight to Dominicana, today I will take you for the culinary part of the journey. These will become a frequent and regular series of posts, and will be regarding the cities I already visited. The Punta Cana restaurant will be the first ones to be described, as there are many of them due to the touristic nature of the region.
I will try to show you the places worth seeing, as well as those that you should avoid.
Due to its geographical location Dominicana offers a wide range of restaurants and pubs Central and South American themed.
Even though I like street food, I do think that Dominiacans are not the best cooks. It is partly due to the enormous amount of sugar in the products and fairly low quality of materials they use. Dominicana is still thought of as a third world country. The food law is not as restrictive as in Europe for example.
As you already know I am a qualified dietician, which is why I check the composition of the products I buy and eat. The first thing I noticed here is a huge quantity of sugar in the dishes and products.
You also need to know that Dominicans love to buy and eat pre-made, frozen and highly processed food, which is why you can find a wide range of these types of products in stores.
I divided this post into two parts. The first one will be about Punta Cana restaurants that I would not recommend, and the other one will be about the ones where you can eat deliciously.
Are you ready? 😀
🖤The biggest disappointments – Punta Cana restaurants
🍽️Delicias De Bávaro
I visited Delicias De Bávaro restaurant in Bávaro, which is one of the most visited by tourists and also the one I remembered from my last trip to Dominicana.
The only pros here (according to me) are the low prices. If you want to dine cheap and you do not have high expectations you should not be dissapointed.
The restaurant is relatively busy, you will meet many tourists from different parts of the world here. It is caused by the fact that Delicias De Bávaro has a pretty good location. The appearance of it is, taking into consideration the Dominican conditions, is without much doubt good. The waiter service is usually efficient and you do not have to wait long for the food. Unfortunately, this is where the positives end.
I was there twice during my visit and I consider the food there to be of really low quality, even taking into consideration the Dominican standards.
The empanada’s stuffing was not spiced, and the meat looked and tasted like it was held in the oven for too long. It was really dry and reminded me of wood chips, not meat. The other time I was there during breakfast, which is why I ordered maple syrup pancakes and banana batido to drink, which is a milkshake. The pancakes were prepared from a ready, loose mass and were not very tasty, more to make you full. The batido on the other hand was very delicious, you could taste the real and ripe banana in it.
I also ordered a mangú then, which is a national Dominicana breakfast, which consists of a classic vegetable banana, fried cheese and salami and pickled onions. I did not get fried cheese though and salami was really salty, looked frozen and was of a low quality in general. I was also surprised by the fact that the menu did not show any drinks. If you want to order anything to drink you need to specifically ask the staff for what can be ordered. It is worth mentioning that if you do not ask for the price at the start you will learn it by seeing it on the final bill.
🍽️Unagui Japanese Cuisine
The worst culinary crisis came when I ordered the food from the aforementioned restaurant.
The food came warm and this is where the pros end. I ordered teriyaki chicken and chicken with the wok fried dishes on the side.
I have to admit that even though I am a big opponent of wasting food I had to throw it away for the first time. What came in the delivery tasted just so bad! I do not think I have ever eaten such an overly sweetened dish, the teriyaki sauce did not held common grounds with the real one… Let me not even mention the meat, because it looked and tasted like mechanically separated meat (MSM). The only things I have eaten were the vegetables and some of the macaroni, which was a big accomplishment still, because the vegetables tasted like they were coated with sugar…
The prices were not low in this restaurant. I paid 570$ (DOP) for the teriyaki chicken and 600$ (DOP) for the other dish, which is over 21 USD.
If you have a choice of being hungry or eating there, do not hesitate to choose the first option.
🍽️Arabito Punta Cana
The other time I was tempted by a Near East themed restaurant. I am a big fan of this region’s food, because I love all kinds of pastes, falafels and orient spices.
I ordered a shawarma and a falafel. Unfortunately, this food also turned out to be not tasty. Shawarma was not the worst, however the sauces did not add to have an orient taste. But I had to eat falafel for three consecutive days.
For the whole order, meaning two shawarmas, falafel, the pita bread and a salad I had to pay 1390$ (DOP), which is around 25,5 USD.
I have to add one more ‘adventure’ to the failure paragraph.
You must know the feeling of starvation where you would eat a horse and you start to have a need for ordering a pizza 😀
I found a well rated pizza place on PedidosYa and I ordered the one of my choosing. After three hours of hunger and waiting it turned out that I will not get my delivery, because there is no one available to dispatch it (for real!). I do not know if the drivers already went to sleep or have simply forgotten to show up to work.
It all ended up with a formal complaint on my part and receiving a gratification coupon, which was a big surprise to me, knowing that Dominicana is not known for the best client service.
❤️The tasteful places- Punta Cana restaurants
Fortunately I also had a chance to eat really tasty dishes in Punta Cana.
La Chingada is a mix of a restaurant with a bar and a freshly squeezed juice booth (the place I already mentioned in the first Punta Cana post). This place is right next to the well attended, two-laned road.
You will find mostly Mexican food there and you have a high chance of being greeted by the restaurant owner there. The menu does not hold many items, but you can find enchiladas with red or green sauce, burritos, ceviches or birrias, which is a mexican soup originated in Jalisco state, which I especially recommend.
The prices were not low, because birria cost almost 900$ (DOP) – almost 16,5 USD, and you had to pay around 550$ (DOP) for enchiladas, which is 10 USD. The beer turned out to be the most expensive one, because you have to pay 250$ (DOP) for it – almost 4,6 USD.
Update october 2022:
The La Chingada restaurant I visited once again after six months. I wanted to eat the famous birria and check what’s going on.
A thing I noticed immediately, was the new menu. I ordered the Presidente beer and pineapple juice, because I loved it. Unfortunately, I got the juice in a styrofoam cup – what’s a bad change! The second fail was that they didn’t have the birria soup, although it was on the menu. I think they have only one person who knows how to prepare the birria, and it is a lottery if you can order this soup or not.
The food I ordered was tasty, and the portions were quite big. Despite this, some dishes were already cold when I got it.
I also tested another Mexican delivery food restaurant from PedidosYa while being in Punta Cana, which is called Chilanguito Banda. I was there in 2020 and I remembered the food in a positive way, which is why I wanted to taste it again.
I ordered pozole rojo in a Jalisco way, meaning the soup made from a special variety of corn with meat and molcajete azteca – a dense, expressive soup made of beef, chicken and vegetables.
The food, taking into consideration that it was delivered, came warm. I also received an additional pico de gallo, which is a salad made from tomatoes, onions, coriander and lemon juice. I paid 1285$ (DOP), delivery included, for the whole order – almost 24 USD.
The food was delicious, very well seasoned and really tasteful. If I will ever be in Bávaro again I will definitely get back there to eat something.
🍽️La Locanda Punta Cana
I fulfilled my pizza craving in La Locanda, Downtown Bávaro, Punta Cana. The place is located on the ground floor of a shopping mall, and you can also find a supermarket, clothing and shoes store and many service points there.
The restaurant itself is industrially themed, which is very pretty. The walls were done in a brick imitation way and there were also raw lamps hanging from the ceiling. They also have a smoking place.
The beer was served in frozen mugs, which fantastically exposed the drink. You can find many Italian pasta dishes, soups and of course pizza in the menu. The average price for a pizza is around 600$ (DOP) – 11 USD.
Even though I did not think of Dominicana as a place with Italian food, the pizza was quite good.
🍽️El Rincón Venezolano
While being in the Verón region I visited a small pub serving a Venezuelan food – El Rincón Venezolano. The place itself was inconspicuous and was a food truck size.
Unfortunately I got there just before siesta time and all I could order were the empanadas. I had to wait a little for the dumplings as they were prepared just before serving, but it was worth it. The biggest difference, compared to the Delicias De Bávaro for example, was the filling, which has been prepared from the fresh, well seasoned meat. The only con here would be the dough, which was too sweet for my taste.
Regardless, I would recommend deviating from your route and tasting their empanadas 😀
The Citrus restaurant is located in the Bavaro touristic center, near to the beach. The restaurant has a parking lot for clients, which is a big pro in this area.
The interior in Citrus is fancy and lovely.
The Citrus restaurant offers high quality dishes with fish and seafood, but also serves dishes with meat and burgers.
The waiters service is very good, and on a high level – the waitress takes care of you just after entering the restaurant.
The food is really tasty and served with attention to the smallest details. I really liked the classic burger with beef (you can choose the degree of meat doneness) and the croquettes with chicken. My friends appreciated the dishes with fish and seafood – they were great seasoned and elegantly served.
The prices in the restaurant are high, but you need to know that this location is popular, the food is made from high quality ingredients and the service is great.
If you are looking for a high lever restaurant, I can recommend The Citrus without thinking much.
🍽️La Bruja Chupadora
Another restaurant, which is located in the center of Bávaro. There is also a prepared parking lot for the guests of the restaurants. The restaurant is a mix of the pub and BBQ restaurant, so you can easily have some beers there without eating. The food they serve is mostly American cuisine, but not only.
I had the opportunity to eat bao rolls with pork – it was so delicious. I didn’t expect the good quality baos in Dominicana.
The waiters service was so-so, but I received all I ordered.
The prices are high, and the menu prices don’t include the taxes.
The Zerai restaurant is located in Downtown Bávaro. In this area are many restaurants and shops.
The interior of the Zerai is modern and elegant. Everything is well planned and matches the furniture.
In this restaurant mainly you will find Asian dishes, but not only. Despite the good opinions on Google Maps, food is not so good. It was another Asian restaurant that confirmed my opinion that in Dominicana there are no good Asian restaurants.
The menu is quite wide, they offer Asian dishes as well as typical Dominican food and desserts.
I chose pad thai and udon pasta with vegetables on wok. Unfortunately, both dishes tasted the same, and the only difference was the type of the pasta.
Although the Zerai restaurant is modern and elegant, the waiters are kind, due to the food they serve I will not recommend this restaurant to you.
Another restaurant that is located in the Bávaro Downtown, near to the Zerai restaurant.
Noah servs different dishes – fish, seafood, sushi, italian cuisines, rice dishes and desserts.
What I spotted was prices in the menu – the prices in the Spanish menu and in the English menu differed to the detriment of the English menu. For example, the dish I ordered from the Spanish menu was about 40 RD$ cheaper than the English menu.
I ordered the chicken portion with penne pasta, tomato sauce and parmesan. My friends chose dishes with fish and paella with seafood. The chicken was too heavy for me, there was a lack of veggies. The salmon dish was tasty but the portion (especially compared to chicken) was so small. The paella was not so delicious.
The prices on the menu are high and do not include taxes. The Noah restaurant will be perfect for date and business meetings.
During my stay in Bávaro I had the opportunity to visit another Mexican restaurant – Pastrata. I chose this restaurant because I found a lot of good opinions on Google Maps and of course, Mexican food in the Dominicana isn’t so bad.
The restaurant is located in a small commercial center, it has its own parking lot also, so you can park there without any problem. The interior of the restaurant is modern and most of the furniture is new. Unfortunately, the tables are outside and there are a lot of flies which disturbs eating.
The menu is in the Catrina form – such a great marketing idea! You will find their most classic Mexican food. Sharing with my friends, we ordered as starters – pico de gallo with nachos, as main dishes – fajitas with chicken, flautas and chilaquiles with chicken.
The pico de gallo I didn’t like much – it doesn’t contain coriander and the tomato was cut into too big cubes.
The most tasty was fajitas – they were best seasoned and served nicely. The worst dish was chilaquiles – the meat had a strange taste and the nachos were too wet, which I didn’t like so much.
Although we were only guests in the restaurant, the waiter gave us the wrong bill – they added things that we didn’t order.
If you have the opportunity to choose between La Chingada and Pastrata restaurant – choose the first one, because it is much better.
You need to be aware of the fact that food delivery services differ from the European standards. The most common one here would be WhatsApp, but also PedidosYa and Komida! (depending on the location). There is also network delivery here, such as Pizza Hut, Dominos and KFC, but the delivery is limited to the close range of the restaurant.
What does the payment in restaurants look like? I will not hide that cash is king in Dominicana.
In many restaurants you will not get a cash receipt, you will simply receive a handwritten note with what you ordered, in what quantity and what was the price. Usually they do not have to pay a tax this way (18% ITBIS), and it varies when it comes to adding the service (10%).
In many places they do not have the payment terminal, so be ready to have some cash on you. I had an issue with adding the card in my account and using it in the aforementioned applications. Each time the transaction would be rejected. I tried many banks, but it simply did not work. It forced me to pay in cash upon the delivery, which is not always comfy.
I hope you appreciate the posts about where to eat and you will find a culinary guide in them 😀
I love sharing my travels, experiences, thoughts and self-tested advices. A travel blog is also a bit of work that I do drinking coffee.
If you want to buy me a coffee, I’d be very pleased!
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