La bandara, a colorful stew of meat, salad, white rice, red beans, and fried plantains, may be the Dominican Republic’s signature dish, but other local favorites include a meat and vegetable soup called sopa criolla dominicana, a baked vegetable cake called pastelón, and small fried chicken pieces known as chicharrones. Chicken, pork, and even goat meat appear far more often in Dominican Republic restaurants than beef, which is much more expensive. Local drinks such as Presidente beer and at least six different kinds of rum are likewise much cheaper than imported alcohol.
Bars and Pubbing in Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo’s nightlife begins at a surprisingly early 8:00 p.m. as most watering holes in the Dominican Republic close by 2:00 a.m. on weekends and by midnight the rest of the week. La Guacara Taina (Avenida Mirador del Sur, Santo Domingo) beneath the Mirador Sur Park, is the world’s only nightclub situated within a natural cave. Dominican merengue superstar co-owns Bachata Rosa (La Atarazana 9, Santo Domingo), named after one of his biggest hit songs. The venue’s two sprawling dance floors are especially popular among locals.
Although most Punta Cana all-inclusive hotel guests never need to leave the confines of their resorts to find nightclubs and casinos, those wishing to party off-grounds can head to Bávaro Disco (Barceló Bávaro Beach, Golf & Casino Resort, Punta Cana). This mirrored black building feels more like a European dance club than many others in the Caribbean thanks to its provocatively dressed partiers and throbbing sound system. The flashing lights and flirtatious party-goers at Mangú (Playa Dorada, Punta Cana) make it the liveliest of all the clubs within the 15-hotel Playa Dorada complex.
Las Brisas (Calle Principal, Cabarete) is among the most popular of Cabarete’s countless watering holes, but its dance floor doesn’t light up until the restaurant closes at 10:30 p.m. Another long-standing Dominican hotspot, Onno’s Bar (Cabarete Beach, Cabarete), plays merengue and salsa music along the beach every night. None of Cabarete’s bars have telephone numbers or proper addresses, but they are nonetheless easy to spot.
Dining and Cuisine in Dominican Republic
Many of Santo Domingo’s finest restaurants are located within Dominican Republic hotels or along the seaside thoroughfare called the Malecón. Diners can enjoy double French lamb chops or several delicious seafood dishes within an authentic cave at El Mesón de la Cava (Mirador del Sur 1, Santo Domingo), where stalactites and stalagmites dangle around the steep iron stairway. Pat é Palo (La Atarazana 21, Santo Domingo) is named after the notorious Dutch buccaneer who established the New World’s first tavern inside Pat é Palo’s present-day building.
Punta Cana’s all-inclusive resorts contain a wide variety of international cuisines within their own properties. However, visitors can also venture to the nearby hamlet of Cortecito to dine at popular local seafood restaurant Capitán Cook (Playa El Cortecito, Marina El Cortecito), whose dishes are more impressive than its exterior. The thatch-roofed Langosta del Caribe (Playa El Cortecito, Marina El Cortecito) stands next door to Capitán Cook and serves up a delicious signature drink of rum and berries called Mammajuana along with its affordable main courses.
A Swiss expatriate has operated the beachfront Casa del Pescador (Calle Principal, Cabarete) seafood restaurant in the heart of Cabarete for over 20 years. Locally brewed Presidente beer provides the perfect pairing to most of this renowned restaurant’s fish dishes. The Florida family who run Gordito’s Tex-Mex (Plaza Ocean Dream, Cabarete) serves up a taste of the southwest US on Dominican shores if you have a hankering for flavors from home.