Carli's Fine Bistro & Piano

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4.5
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135 Reviews
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$31 to $50
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Contemporary American
We are located in the Plazoleta of the Banco Popular Building in Old San Juan on the corner of Recinto Sur and San Justo Streets.

Carli's fine bistro & piano located in the heart of historic Old San Juan Puerto Rico, was born on December 27, 1998 as a place where locals and international patrons could gather to enjoy a unique live musical and fine dining experience in a relaxed atmosphere.

Nested on the plaza level of the historic art deco Banco Popular building, Carli's warm and artistic vibe will charm you while you savor exotic assortments of gourmet tapas and exquisite international entrees, or sip on your favorite martini from our classic bar on our main room or under the stars with a view of the San Juan Bay from our open terrace.

Today, Carli’s not only continues to grow, but has excelled in the art of fine dining and live jazz entertainment, without sacrificing the comfort of casual elegance and competitive pricing.
What 135 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.6
service
4.6
ambience
4.4
value
Noise · Moderate
91% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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OT
Nashville
1 review
Dined on June 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Family vacation

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N
New York Area
4 reviews
Dined on June 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

An intimate restaurant with excellent service, delicious food and fabulous piano music. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our dinner!

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OT
Charlotte
31 reviews
Dined on June 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Exquisitely prepared meal, professionally served in a classy, yet comfortable atmosphere.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent service, excellent food. Sergio was fabulous!

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OT
Richmond
3 reviews
Dined on May 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful experience! The food was delicious, the ambience was cozy, and every staff member was delightful. Met Carlí himself and heard him play!! Would definitely return here again. 5 stars!

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g
Palm Springs
2 reviews
Dined on May 18, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent will go back when in the San Juan area for sure

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D
New Mexico
2 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful location! Wonderful service! Wonderful food!

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on April 26, 2019
Overall 1food 2service 1ambience 1

The need for a reservation here is nonexistent. The female manager immediately asks if you have an reservation as if the restaurant was full. Staff is not knowledgeable of the menu. If you request to sit outside you will not hear any of the “world renowned” live jazz. This place is highly OVERRATED!

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r
Philadelphia
32 reviews
Dined on April 22, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Small, intimate piano bar with good food. Had delicious mahi mahi and pasta dishes. Drinks were well-prepared and having live piano music from the owner who formerly toured with the Beach Boys was a treat!

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TF
1 review
Dined on April 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was amazing about this restaurant. The food was superb, the staff were excellent, and the live music was amazing. Will definitely visit here next time we're in San Juan.

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RM
1 review
Dined on April 17, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I don't come across a restaurant like this with the right setting, good live music and great food at reasonable prices. We had wine, soup and a couple of main courses that we really enjoyed and thought were reasonably priced.

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JH
1 review
Dined on March 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Loved everything about Carlis. Food, service, ambiance and music were excellent. Sitting next to the piano and still could have a conversation while enjoying the music.
Kudos to everyone!

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VS
Denver
2 reviews
Dined on March 15, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Love this place!

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B
New York Area
17 reviews
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We absolutely loved this restaurant. The atmosphere was perfect. Fairly small, elegant, live music, wonderful service and excellent food. One of the best dining experiences we had in San Juan.

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C
Dallas
4 reviews
Dined on March 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very good restaurant. Good service and excellent food.

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OT
Tallahassee
1 review
Dined on March 7, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

On vacation, def a place to put on your list of places to eat.

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C
Philadelphia
1 review
Dined on February 26, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 2

This is a really strange place. I'm not sure why all of the guide books recommend it. The decor looks like it has not been updated in decades and has layers of party decorations on top of an eclectic array of seemingly unrelated art. The service was really lovely and everyone was attentive and kind. We started with complimentary bread, which was kind of like a cut up potato roll that we dipped in olive oil. The music started at around 9pm, It was not quite the style of jazz we were expecting - more show tunes than standards. I ordered the filet and it arrived very rare instead of medium rare, which they corrected. It was tasty after the correction! The sides weren't impressive. The green beans were totally raw and the potatoes were cold and over cooked. This is not what I would expect for the high price tag ($34). My aunt ordered the lamb chops which were very small but she said the taste was good ($27). We talked to the couple next to us and they were pretty unimpressed with their meals as well (one ordered the Tuna and said was overdone). The bar scene looked fun so I think it might be a good place to grab a cocktail with a friend. The bathroom was located so that you had to squeeze past the pianist to go, which was awkward but their may not be much they can do about that. This was supposed to be a fancy night out but it was pretty disappointing and expensive.

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MD
Cleveland
12 reviews
Dined on February 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Loved the food - delicious! I had the Carly’s Special and would repeat that! The restaurant is in the base of the Banco Popular building but facing the cruise terminal pier.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on February 18, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 4

Pretty much out of everything, waitress was very awkward

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OT
Philadelphia
8 reviews
Dined on February 18, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Absolutely must have reservations for this small establisment. We saw many turned away. Indoor & outdoor seating, both in high demand. Excellent tasty food, but be ready for a 60 minute wait between appetizers to main entree. Waiter was welcoming, offered recommendations and overall was attentive. Live piano music added to the cozy atmosphere. The flavor of the meal made up for the prolonged wait for the main course. Just make sure you allow enough time to relax, savor & enjoy what Carli's has to offer. Definitely recommend

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MS
New England
5 reviews
Dined on February 18, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 3

Incredibly slow service and terrible food. My wife had the filet mignon and she said it was the worst she's ever had. I had ahi tuna and also not very good. The best thing I had was a glass of tempranillo. Way over priced for the meal and bad service.

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RB
1 review
Dined on February 11, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Good food and service, nice place for dinner with live-music

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A
New York Area
1 review
Dined on February 9, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Joesph saved the evening. When we first arrived things were a bit strange. I asked Joesph for help and the rest of the evening was perfect. He helped turn around the night with his great service. A cool place to chill and remember what a lounge used to be.

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CJ
Toronto
19 reviews
Dined on February 4, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 3

Very busy so service very slow. Fish arrived cold. Reheated my wife's portion so she ate far later than me. Neither dish was finished. Wine bottle wasn't finished despite waiters argument that it was. It was taken away. We return most every year from Canada for an anniversary dinner but question if that will happen again. Too bad. We always look forward to Carli's piano playing. BTW...no compensation offered or asked for.

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B
New York Area
61 reviews
Dined on January 26, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

A favorite San Juan spot. Great jazz, good food and service for a small, compact bar dining area. Bartender has been here a long time. Great mojitos and passion drinks. Our service was ok. Entrees Tuna-restaurant special, salmon and lobster ravioli were very good. Wine list is reasonable. The only negative is very limited white wine by glass. Only Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. My wife prefers a Sauvignon Blanca or Alberino. They have by bottle but not by glass. A fairly simple fix to an otherwise delightful spot.

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VS
Denver
3 reviews
Dined on January 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fausto the fabulous! What a great place 💚

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LL
Philadelphia
13 reviews
Dined on January 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent service and tasty food (especially the ceviche and entrees). The music provided by Carli enhanced the experience.

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L
Washington DC
22 reviews
Dined on January 18, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Excellent food. We had the salmon and spinAch ravioli, both excellent choices. Créeme brûlée was excellent. But mostly, the service was impeccable. Thank you for your outstanding hospitality.

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n
New York Area
10 reviews
Dined on January 14, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 5

Fantastic food but service was extremely slow so food was cold! But we’d go back because the music (live jazz piano) was excellent and everyone was really nice.

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TP
New York Area
4 reviews
Dined on January 14, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Looking for a change in atmosphere while in San Juan? You will love Carli’s! Hip and jazzy with great drinks. Food was good. Avoid the mussels large and chewy. Steaks and chops were very good.

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CL
1 review
Dined on January 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I am a pure gringo who has lived for almost five years in Old San Juan, and, as of last year, I now have a lovely pure Puertorriqueña wife. Between the two of us, we know a little something about good food, and good reataurants.
Without heaitation, we both agree that Carli’s is the finest restaurant all of San Juan. It’s as simple as that.

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LG
Washington DC
20 reviews
Dined on January 1, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

Our meal was very good. It took 20 minutes and two visits by the hostess saying “your waiter will be with you shortly” before he finally stopped by to say hello. The staff was constantly rushing by as if they were short staffed. We spoke with our waiter only for taking our order. For such a small place, the noise level was very loud, made more so when Carli played the piano. It was a treat to hear him play.

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OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on January 1, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 4

Awful staff. Horrible hostess.

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NP
New England
5 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 3

Went for New Years Eve - server did her best - but she’s not in the kitchen. So -besides the fact that one of the 4 did not get her food with the rest of the party and when it came it was not what she ordered and the rest of us- food only ok but to make it worse the sides were cold ... and then the kitchen was closed before we finished so no option of dessert or coffee. Overall a huge disappointment.

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G
Atlanta
40 reviews
Dined on December 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We loved Carli’s! The service, food and love music all made the evening special. We highly recommend this place.

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AC
1 review
Dined on December 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fausto, the bartender, was so friendly and welcoming. He makes wonderful drinks and even won Best Mojito in 2016! The food was of high quality and very tasty. Tuna carpaccio was a stand out. The rest of the staff was super friendly as well. The music was AMAZING. Gorgeous jazz piano played by the restaurant's namesake: Carli. A wonderful night. A must do for music lovers visiting Old San Juan.

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N
New England
9 reviews
Dined on December 11, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Superb from beginning to end! Attentive staff. Carli is awesome. Thank you!

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NC
1 review
Dined on December 7, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

In the positive side, the place is very nice, the location is second to none, and we really enjoyed the music very much (great music!!) .... in the negative side, I have to say they have a long way to go to be a top notch restaurant; the wine list is limited, the food isn't great for what you pay, and the service at the table wasn't the most efficient one (even though the people was very nice) .... a couple of suggestions: 1) you need to change the chef right away!! ... the food is not one of the place's highlights ... 2) need to improve the wine list significantly ... and 3) never be understaffed! .... that was the reason the service me and my wife got was so slow .... people was very nice and they were making a tremendous effort, but they were simply not enough for the quantity of people ... don't be cheap on this and make sure you guys have the proper number of employees at all times ... customers would appreciate having these three elements improved, even if that means paying higher prices .... customers want excellent service in all senses, and we are willing to pay for it ...

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AU
Chicago
3 reviews
Dined on December 3, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

We visited Carli's on a Monday night on a vacation, where I caught up with a college buddy who lives in San Juan and recommended this place since I am a jazz pianist. We arrived at 6:30, relieved to see that the owner was scheduled to perform that night. We heard a good guitarist and singer playing old jazz standards to only a few of us. The drinks were good, with lots of mint leaves in the Mojito. Our waiter was both friendly and professional. Our appetizer and all the entrees were uniformly excellent and priced low enough to keep them tasty (I can't enjoy food that is priced to discourage patrons like me). We stayed two hours and had only two disappointments: 1) Carli, the owner, never showed up although he was supposed to start playing at 8:00, and 2) they do not take American Express, so my college buddy was embarrassed to have us split the bill.

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AV
Chicago
16 reviews
Dined on November 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic experience with Friday night jazz and excellent dining. The grouper special with outstanding!

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