Whether you’ve worked up an appetite from surfing, rappelling, or window shopping, take a break from your adventures to explore local flavors at one of the best restaurants in San José. Costa Rican fare captures the culinary aspects of the diverse communities that call the country home, with restaurants serving up European, Central American, Peruvian, Argentinian and Asian cuisine to satisfy your every craving.
Nestled close to La Sabana Park on Calle 48, Park Café is one of San José’s culinary hot-spots. Dine indoors or alfresco surrounded by a treasure trove of antique furnishings and rare objets d’art, which can be purchased from the adjoining store if something catches your eye. For lunch, sample a selection of tapas-style dishes in their elegant garden, where you can indulge in ravioli with goat cheese, seared fillet of tuna with ginger and mango puree, tempura shrimp, and stuffed quail. Dinner is selected from a dégustation menu that caters to carnivores and vegetarians alike, while pairing dishes with complimenting wines.
Café de los Deseos
Tucked away in colorful Barrio Otoya, near the city’s botanical gardens, this eclectic cafe is a bohemian dream bursting with vibrant local artwork. It’s an intimate spot for drinks and a fusion of gastronomic delights, ranging from Central American to Japanese and Italian. Kick back and relax at a hand-painted table surrounded by glistening fairy lights, as you sip a cocktail and feast on home-made tortillas, towering burgers or individual pizzas with lavish toppings sure to delight your taste buds.
In 2014, Chef José Gonzalez returned to San José after 5 years studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and opened Al Mercat. Since then, his fabulous farm-to-table restaurant in the Barrio Escalante neighborhood has become a vital part of the culinary scene. With a focus on fresh seasonal produce, the dishes are a creative blend of traditional and modern, aimed at highlighting the diversity of Costa Rican culture. The atmosphere is relaxed and unpretentious, serving classic favorites like ceviche, tacos, and grilled vegetables with smoked cheese, chimichurri and rosemary salsa. This is hands-down one of the best restaurants in San Jose.
Chef Santiago Fernandez Benedetto finds inspiration from his 16 years spent travelling the world to create mouth-watering dishes. The restaurant’s elegant dining rooms are decorated with heritage colors and solid wood tables, its walls peppered with artwork depicting Costa Rica in sepia tones and colorful abstracts. The creative menu offers innovative options like smoked cured bacon croissant and seared conger fish with local tree bean caviar, and there are sharing plates, nibbles and a host of delectable desserts to sample.
Restaurante Grano de Oro
In the heart of San José, Restaurante Grano de Oro is the ideal place for a romantic candle-lit dinner à deux or intimate gathering. The restaurant’s menu highlights sustainable ingredients and a harmonious fusion of French, Mediterranean, and Central American cuisine. All dietary requirements are catered to, with mouth-watering dishes like savory black bean soup, mozzarella and ricotta ravioli, beef tenderloin with quinoa crust and yucca cake and sumptuous sea bass with toasted macadamia nuts.
La Esquina de Buenos Aires
Visualize a dimly lit bar adorned with old-world posters, street signs, faded photographs, and bottles stacked as far as the eye can see. If the image intrigues you, step into La Esquina de Buenos Aires for a taste of South America in San José. Located close to the Jade Museum and National Museum of Costa Rica, you’ll be momentarily transported to the smoky tango bars of La Boca, as you sample a variety of tapas-style dishes. Once you see the tempting menu filled with Argentinian sausage, provolone cheese, chicken, beef and pasta dishes, you’ll understand why it’s such a popular place for locals and internationals alike.