El Conuco Restaurant (Gazcue, Calle Casimiro del Moya 152, tel. 809/686-0129, 11a.m.–3 p.m. and 6 p.m.–12 a.m., daily, US$5–12) is unbelievably touristy, but the food is very good and the entertainment makes it a favorite for tourists. Through its corny veneer, its success is deserved because it serves very authentic and tasty Dominican fare, like la bandera dominicana by buffet or more exotic items like cow’s-foot stew à la carte. The highlight of your visit (aside from the food) is when the entertainment dances the merengue and bachata with one performer dancing on top of a bottle.
Cafeteria Hermanos Villar (Gazcue, Av. Independencia at Pasteur, tel. 809/682-1433, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, US$2–9) is a very popular place known mostly for its fantastic sandwiches, which are made on fresh bread in the traditional Dominican way, pressed flat with a hot iron. There are different kinds of meats to choose from and even some vegetarian ones. Some big ones can feed more than one person. This is a very economical way to eat.
La Bodeguita de la Habana Vieja (Gazcue, Av. Independencia 302, tel. 809/476-7626, noon–midnight daily, US$7–12) is a popular spot with the locals for its easy-going atmosphere and great food. The atmosphere is mixed. You won’t want to wear shorts here (there are white tablecloths), but there is a TV playing, adding to its casual feel. There are a number of international dishes on the menu, but Cuban is the specialty, with favorites like ropa vieja (shredded beef served in a sauce).