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Trader Vic's, San Juan, Puerto Rico (restaurant)

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Name:Trader Vic's
Street:Los Rosales Street, San Geronimo Grounds
City:San Juan
country:Puerto Rico

This Trader Vic's location opened in 1961 in the Caribe Hilton, which is still extant.


The San Juan Trader Vic's has only come up a couple times here on TC, one was this great thread Sabu started about great tiki architecture:


This is a postcard he posted on that thread:

This is a postcard from puamana's magical treasure trove, Arkiva Tropika:

So it looks as if the San Juan location had two very cool, very dramatic A-frames. My guess is that the first one is the entrance to the restaurant, and the second one is at the back of the restaurant.

The hotel is still standing, and one of the restaurants there is called Lemongrass; here's a pic of Lemongrass from the hotel website, which just barely shows that the second, larger, swooping A-frame may still be standing:

Here's an aerial view of the hotel today, from Google Maps:

Here's a closeup of the area where I think I can just make out the larger A-frame, where diners could enjoy a lovely ocean view, and a pathway which lines up with where the smaller entrance A-frame could have been:


Another modern-day picture of the A-frame, from Flickr:

And here's a picture of the inside of Lemongrass, with the underside of the A-frame:

Critiki - Ooga-Mooga - Humu Kon Tiki

[ Edited by: Humuhumu 2007-01-31 14:47 ]

Zeta posted on Tue, Jul 19, 2011 6:01 AM

Visiting Puerto Rico in August so, I will check it out in situ.
Thanks for the lead Humuhumu.


I went to the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico with Martiki and a few others this past week. Sadly, the original entrance A-frame is gone, but the rear structure remains pretty much as it is in the pictures above, with a plain white face on the a-frame. There now stands a parking garage about where the original entrance would have been. They literally paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

One of the least documented of the old Trader Vic's restaurants. I found a few new postcards and dug up some more local info on the Caribe Hilton.

First postcard is another view of the great A-frame entrance to Trader Vic's on one side of the hotel building.

This postcard features an aerial shot of the Caribe Hilton compound that has the A-frame entrance in view.

Close up.

Interesting design of the restaurant with a front and back A-Frame feature on each side of the hotel building. Here is a nice postcard rendering of the complex. The wing on the left is where Trader Vic's was located.

The matchbook had the signature Caribe Hilton font.

As seen here on a coaster.

Here is a room service card with the various bars and restaurants including Trader Vic's.

The Caribe Hilton has a nice little back story similar to Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber on who invented the Mai Tai. The bartender at the Caribe Hilton is credited with inventing the Pina Colada in 1954. His name was Ramon "Monchito" Marrero.

Here is the story from Fromers:

When actress Joan Crawford tasted the piña colada at what was then the Beachcombers Bar in the Caribe Hilton, Calle Los Rosales she claimed it was "better than slapping Bette Davis in the face."

This famous drink is the creation of bartender Ramon "Monchito" Marrero, now long gone, who was hired by the Hilton in 1954. He spent 3 months mixing, tasting, and discarding hundreds of combinations until he felt he had the right blend. Thus, the frothy piña colada was born. It's been estimated that some 100 million of them have been sipped around the world since that fateful time.

The plaque at the hotel

Now the thing is,someone else also has a plaque claiming that THEY invented the the Pina Colada.

Don't get caught in the rain!


Zeta posted on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 10:48 PM

Nothing Tiki in there, go away. Trust me on this one. I looked for Tiki under the carpets even. It's gone. If someone has the connections, they should ask for the hotel's archives for old pictures. I'm sure we are just tipping the iceberg on this one.

The origin of the Pina Colada deserves it's own thread. I been there, and I think it was NOT created in the Hilton. They just blatantly stole it, and made up a fake story. Business as usual. Sue me.

Found a nice old ad from the Trader Vic's opening at the Caribe Hilton.

A very Puerto-Rican looking image used for this Trader Vic's.


A Puerto Rican Pottery group on Facebook has been a great source of information on some rare mugs.

These mugs were made by Casa Del Barro potteries exclusively for the Trader Vic's at the P R Caribe Hilton, according to the knowledgeable experts there.

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