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Santo Domingo Must Do (First Visit)

Destination(s): Santo Domingo

For the first-time visitor, its probably best to confine yourself to the 11 square blocks of the Zona Colonial (Colonial Zone). For the traveler, it's a repository of culture, history, art and architecture, with cathedrals and forts that have been around since the 16th-century. The well-trodden cobblestone streets of this charming district have more than enough sites, sounds and experiences to keep you busy from dawn to dusk.
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Calle El Conde

Calle El Conde

  • Between Parque Colón and Parque Independencia
  • Santo Domingo
El Alcázar de Colón

El Alcázar de Colón

  • Plaza de España
  • Puertas de las Atarazanas y San Diego
  • tel:+1 809 689 5946 / +1 809 689 4722
  • Santo Domingo
La Résidence

La Résidence

  • In the Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando, Calle Las Damas
  • tel:809/685-9955
  • Santo Domingo
Zona Colonial

Zona Colonial

  • Zona Colonial
  • tel:+1 809 687 4722
  • Santo Domingo
Malecón (El)

Malecón (El)

  • Avenida George Washington
  • Malecón
  • Santo Domingo
Museo de Arte Moderno

Museo de Arte Moderno

  • Avenida César Nicolás Penson esquina Avenida Máximo Gómez
  • Plaza de la Cultura Juan Pablo Duarte
  • tel:+1 809 685 2154 / +1 809 685 2156
  • Santo Domingo
Cappuccino

Cappuccino

  • Avenida Máximo Gómez No. 60
  • tel:+1 809 689 8600
  • Santo Domingo
Plaza Naco

Plaza Naco

  • Avenue Tiradentes 22
  • tel:+1 809 541 5652
  • Santo Domingo
La Vecindad

La Vecindad

  • Ave. Tiradentes esq. Cub Scout. Plaza Damaso
  • tel:809-633-2121
  • Santo Domingo

Finding delicious, perfectly seasoned Mexican food in the capital was once a difficult, borderline impossible task. No longer. The owners of this welcoming little restaurant have realized their vision: great dishes, made by Mexican chefs (yes, they don't only import ingredients, but chefs, too) who get every flavor just right, every seasoning on point and the balance of sweet/salty/sour in every dish right on mark. It helps that all dishes come with an assortment of sauces to tailor to your taste buds. Great food is complemented by the fun, colorful decor: murals flank each side of the dining room, humorous puns and jokes are painted on the walls and the truly nostalgic feel will remind you of everything good about Mexico. The delectable Taquiza platter (slices of chicken, pork, beef and chorizo, with piles of guacamole and refried beans, and a stack of warm tortillas) for 2 or 4 provides plenty of food for double the number of people it's made for.   

Have it with una aguita de jamaica or one of their signature drinks (a great one being a blend of tamarindo juice, amaretto and tequila), finished off with one of their desserts. Among the best are the crepes with cajeta and the dense, cheesecake like apple dessert (not on the menu but available if asked for, same for the agua de jamaica). The restaurant is unpretentious, the cutlery, glassware and platters adorably quirky, the prices cannot be beat, and the drinks delicious (alcoholic or not). Who knew heaven existed in a little corner of the Tiradentes? Hurry! They fill up fast.

 

 

 

 

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El Conuco

El Conuco

Segafredo

Segafredo

  • El Conde NB54 entre las Damas y La Catolica
  • Santo Domingo

A veritable institution in the capital, Segafredo maintains its reputation as the go-to place for a drink and a bite in the Colonial Zone.  It's always crowded, bustling with the young, hip and alternative crowd.  The service could be better (much better), but the atmosphere and company of the young, interesting and beautiful makes up for the forgotten drinks and the less-than-attentive servers. They have a good sized menu, with a nice selection of cheesy choices (pizzas, pastas, picaderas). If you only order one thing, make it the pizza. They are excellent. The drinks are strong and reasonably priced (nothing is watered down here. It's the perfect place to eat and people watch..

Pepperoni Café

Pepperoni Café

  • Avenida Winston Churchill esquina Sarasota
  • Plaza Universitaria Mall
  • tel:+1 809 508 1330
  • Santo Domingo

Don't let its name fool you; this is no pizza joint or greasy little Italian bistro.  Entering its patio, you will be intrigued by the fairy lights lighting all the cropped, perfect little topiaries on every side, these trumped by a full size royal palm growing through the floor.  The setting is elegant, slightly subdued, with the whiff of class permeating the impeccably laid table linens.  The service is impeccable: the food even more so.  Although it does suffer from the "samesame" menu that plagues Santo Domingo (most restaurants have the same dishes on offer, with only slight variations), the chef proves the power of knowing how to season and knowing your ingredients resulting in an innovative preparation of the classics.  Not to be missed are the house sushis, the calamari salad and the fondant au chocolat dessert.  The portions, for being such a fancy place, are very large and many starters would serve as a decent main meal.  Please, leave room for dessert and be sure to pre-order your fondant 20 minutes in advance, it will arrive piping hot with a liquid sweet centre, presented in a ramekin accompanied by a caged scoop of unctuous vanilla ice cream. The drinks are affordable, the house wine very decent and although you will spend a touch more than in other establishments, the flavors dancing on your tongue, the breeze caressing your face and spectacular view will make every last centavo worth it.

El Rey de Falafel

El Rey de Falafel

  • C/ Padre Billini esq. Sanchez
  • tel:(809)688-9714
  • Santo Domingo

Falafel has nestled itself in a cave-like nook of the colonial zone: the building where it is housed has been beautifully restored preserving its ruin-like state.  Enjoying Middle Eastern fare will have a different meaning as you're staring up at the stars or admiring the century-old stone walls that have yielded to time but now offer a perfect frame for a starry night and the crowd that flock to enjoy the house specialty.  As the name suggests, it is the falafel.  Their piece de resistance is heavy with savoury spices, the flatbread impeccably elastic and yielding, served with 3 sauces on the side (tahini, ketchup and chilli), presented in the decade-old squeezy bottles, there is an element of fun and childlikeness at squeezing all your condiments onto your wrap, trying to stretch your jaw to consume bites of the whole experience: bread, falafel, tomato and sauce.  Thankfully, they provide plenty of napkins.  The service is less than stellar, but made up in good humour, disposition and friendliness by the staff.  Sauntering down for drinks and an appetizer is a thoroughly good idea: the babaganoush and hummous are creamy and moreish, the mini pita breads are fresh and fragrant. They have a variety of meat-based sandwiches and starters, which are all very good, but their way with chickpeas and eggplants are what won my food loving heart.  Be warned that should you want an outside table or are a big group, you should arrive early as many of the alternative movers and the shakers of the city come to natter over plates of grub or an ice cold drink and will spend the evening laughing and sharing the latest gossip.

Cinema Café

Cinema Café

  • Avenida Pedro Henriquez Urena
  • tel:89 221 7555
  • Visit website
  • Santo Domingo
Pat´e Palo European Brasserie

Pat´e Palo European Brasserie

  • La Calle Atarazana
  • Zona Colonial
  • tel:+1 809 687 8089
  • Visit website
  • Santo Domingo

There is a lot to be said for the power of ambiance, and this restaurant has plenty of it. As one of the first establishments in the New World, the space that surrounds diners is haunting, inspiring and beautiful. You can feel the history leaching out of the stone walls to accompany you during your meal. The location of the restaurant, in Plaza Espaňa, with views of Christopher Columbus' home is none too shabby, either. The chef executes each dish perfectly, with the stars being the samosas, the crispy apple shrimp, and the mero al oriental. The samosas are crispy and fragrant, filled with guinea, accompanied by mint chutney that elevates this simple concoction into a thing of beauty. The crispy apple shrimp are savory, sour and sweetly delectable, every crustacean shell-less and plump. Mero al oriental is a perfectly cooked, tender, piece of grouper served atop Asian vegetables steamed in a plantain leaf. It's slightly more expensive, due to the location, building and well...the food. It's definitely one of the best restaurants in Santo Domingo.