No matter which province you plan to visit on your next Costa Rica adventure vacation, you will undoubtedly include a night or two in San Jose, the capital city and the country’s most convenient entry point and home to some of the best dining locations.
San Jose is the heart and soul of Costa Rica’s culinary scene and, besides the incredible foodie options, also offers plenty of historical attractions and nightlife to boot. More than a mere springboard for adventurous fun in the many national parks, forests and beaches, San Jose is a brilliant destination of its own accord, so make sure you do square up some time to check it out.
The eclectic mix of cuisines on offer in San Jose is proof that Costa Rica is, in fact, one of the most hospitable countries in all of Latin America, home to a remarkably large expat community, who have imported flavors from every corner of the world. No matter what cuisine you crave aside the comida tipica, or typical Costa Rican fare, you’ll certainly find it in San Jose, where Italian, Asian and all manner of international eateries abound.
Here are our favorite restaurants, cafes, hole-in-the-wall food joints and most delectable culinary highlights of San Jose. Because finding 101 ways to eat your way through your Costa Rica vacation is a perfectly valid travel mission.
Costa Rica Best Dining
Park Café – International Fusion Foodie Splurge
Sabana Park’s resident culinary treasure is one of those places you need to book weeks in advance for one of he best dining experiences you can ever partake in. However, this isn’t because Park Café is so ‘in’ that it receives a cult following for trend’s sake. But rather, because the owners decided that their main credo would be quality over quantity, in every which way.
Superb, locally sourced and imported ingredients, super fresh food and attention to detail, for just a handful of lucky customers at every meal. An inventive menu, an incredibly cozy and romantic setting (Park Café moonlights as an antique shop) and a leisurely dinner where you’re neither rushed nor taken for granted. If you’d love a piece of that, then check out the English chef’s blog for stunning food pics and do book ahead.
Av. de Las Américas 48, San José
Phone: +506 2290 6324
La Esquina de Buenos Aires – Argentinian Steak
It’s hard to argue that Argentina doesn’t boast the best steaks in all of Latin America, and some of the best in the world. So imagine your delightful surprise then, when you discover that San Jose boasts La Esquina de Buenos Aires, one of the best Argentinian steak houses outside of Argentina.
The spicy and fruity home-made sangria could well take center stage at any meal here, although the evening’s honors will no doubt be awarded to the sizzling meat grill plate, called a parrilla, that’s meant to be shared. Or not! A gorgeous décor and cruisy musical accompaniment make this an ideal place for a romantic dinner out in San Jose, especially for carnivores!
Calle 11 corner with Av. 4, San Jose
Phone: +506 2223 1909
Kalú – for Mouthwatering Desserts
Kalú is one of San Jose’s most revered cafes and although the charming joint serves main courses you should definitely try, the primary reason you should head here is to dive, head first, into their wide selection of drop dead drool-worthy desserts and one of the best dining experiences ever. This is what the owner and head chef, Camille Ratton, is best known for.
The dessert menu changes often and can include a velvety chocolate trifle, an orgasmic cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries bathed in balsamic vinegar jus, and a totally addictive passion-fruit pie. The best part is that at Kalú, you can order a mini sampler dish, so even if traveling alone you need not have to make that tough decision of ‘which ONE shall I taste?’ Have ‘em all! A welcoming and warm atmosphere makes an afternoon of sweet indulgence all the more enticing.
Calle 31, Avenida 5, San Jose
Phone: +506 2253 8426
La Ventanita Meraki – Funky Street Food Experience
If you’ve been to Costa Rica before you’ll know that the country doesn’t really do ‘street food’, not in the sense that is found in other continents. Food outlets here, no matter how small, always have a roof and at least a couple of walls!
But considering La Ventanita – which means ‘the little window’ in Spanish – is literally not much more than an open window, this may well be the closest thing to ‘street food’ in the Costa Rican capital. A small but nice selection of home-made burgers and sandwiches, served with excellent chunky chips and an array of delicious sauces to match. Plenty of vegetarian options but if you are a meat eater then don’t walk past the pulled pork: it’s just perfect. No seats, no lavatories and no fuss: just great food on the go, ideal as a refill on a night out in town and a secret place known only to locals and a few expats who’ve caught on.
Costa Rica is a fantastic country to visit, especially for those looking for adventure and extraordinary experiences. So take your taste buds along for the ride with San Jose’s best dining joints, and check out all the unforgettable adventures we have in store for you.