Mark’s at the Melia (Hotel Melia , 75 Calle Cristina at Plaza de Las Delicias, 787/284-6275, daily noon–3 p.m. and 6–10 p.m., $14–28) is not your typical hotel restaurant. The decor is fairly nondescript, but the low lighting and Rat Pack–era music helps create a classy, sophisticated vibe. The attentive Old World–style service makes every guest feel like a VIP, of which this restaurant has no doubt seen many. The menu features seafood and continental cuisine, as well as a few fancified renditions of traditional Puerto Rican dishes. Specialties include lobster saffron risotto, pan-roasted duck breast, rack of lamb, and an impressive cheese course. The huge old-fashioned wilted spinach salad with hot bacon dressing is highly welcomed, considering the scarcity of veggies served at most Puerto Rican restaurants. The excellent warm crusty bread is a treat too. There are also a full bar and an excellent wine list.
The waterfront development known as La Guancha  is lined with a variety of dining spots, including El Paladar Bar and Grill (Paseo Tablado de La Guancha, 787/267-4491 or 787/842-1401, daily 11 a.m.–11 p.m., $11.50–19.95). The casual eatery serves traditional Puerto Rican cuisine with an emphasis on fish, such as fried chillo (snapper) and dorado (mahimahi), asopao stews, and rice dishes. The restaurant is in a large pavilion with enclosed dining downstairs and an open-air bar upstairs overlooking the boardwalk and marina.
Pito’s Seafood Café and Restaurant (Carr. 2, Sector Las Cucharas, 787/841-4977, fax 787/259-8328, Sun.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–midnight) is a popular stop for tourists, perhaps because it serves something for everyone. Although it specializes in every Puerto Rican seafood dish imaginable, it also offers several beef, pork, and chicken dishes. Trunkfish, a local delicacy, is served here when it’s available. The three-level waterside restaurant has open-air dining, an enclosed fine-dining room, and private dining in the wine cellar. The wine list features 25 varieties by the glass from regions around the world. There is live music Fridays and Saturdays.
La Gladiola Café (119 Calle Villa, 787/259-8021, Mon.–Sat. 6 a.m.–4 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m.–1 a.m., $3.50–9) is an authentically vintage café with a European ambiance. The cozy, bustling space features sky-high ceilings and pale yellow walls hung with old black-and-white photos of the island. There’s a small bar and table seating where patrons dine on eggs, French toast, pancakes, and breakfast burritos in the morning, and sandwiches, salads, tacos, quesadillas, and burritos stuffed with choice of churrasco or chicken for lunch. Dinner specials include traditional Puerto Rican dishes, steak, and the popular chicken cordon bleu. There is a full bar and coffee drinks too.
Restaurante Rincon Argentino (69 Calle Salud at Calle Isabel, 787/284-1762, rinconargentinoponce [at] hotmail [dot] com, daily 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., $10–32) is in a lovely Spanish-style hacienda with patio dining enclosed by wrought-ironwork overlooking Calle Salud. The Italian-Argentine menu features grilled meats, fish, and pastas. To get a little taste of everything, order the mixed appetizer platter with croquettes, sausages, empanadas, prosciutto, and Manchego cheese.
Classic Delights Bakery & Café (3 Calle Marina at Calle Comercio, 787/259-0558, daily 6 a.m.–7 p.m., $1.60–4.99) is a large, cheerful, all-purpose eatery serving everything from breakfast, soup, salads, and sandwiches to smoothies, pizza, lasagna, and a couple of daily Puerto Rican specialties with rice and beans. Three large glass cases contain a wide assortment of cakes, flan, cheesecake, doughnuts, and the traditional Mallorca pastry. On the brightly colored walls are original paintings of Puerto Rican courtyards and seascapes for sale by local artists.
Café Paris (Calle Isabel on Plaza de Degetau, 787/840-1010, Mon.–Sat. 7 a.m.–6 p.m., $4.95 or less) is a modest modern bakery decked out like a Parisian brasserie serving sandwiches and coffee drinks.
Kings Cream (9223 Calle Marina, 787/843-8520, daily noon–midnight, cup $1.25–1.60, pint $2.75, gallon $11.50) is a no-frills operation serving soft ice cream in a variety of flavors for those on the go, as there’s no seating on the premises. The fresh fruit flavors are the best.