When it comes to food, San José has it all. From cozy spots to enjoy its rich coffee culture to upscale restaurants for a fancy dinner, the capital city's geographic location and cultural melting pot makes finding locations to enjoy Costa Rica’s eclectic cuisine an easy task.
One of the top dishes on La Oveja Negra's menu is the classic Costa Rican dish chifrijo © Maria Esther Abissi / Lonely Planet
La Oveja Negra
For the authentic Costa Rican experience, La Oveja Negra is the place to go. Enjoy the relaxed and rustic atmosphere while eating all kinds of traditional food like the classic chifrijo, made with rice, pork, beans and lemon or some plantain tortillas with mashed beans and pico de gallo (salsa). For beer fans, La Oveja Negra offers a wide selection of locally made artisan delights.
Let yourself discover the charm of Barrio Escalante while drinking one of the best gin and tonics in town. Apotecario is a casual place that offers live music every day, artisan-made food and cocktails. After dinner, take a leisurely walk around Barrio Escalante, it's the ideal way to fully enjoy the neighborhood and its 50 different types of restaurants, bars, coffee shops and one-of-a kind nightlife.
Old Buildings in San José have a magic like no other and that’s what draws visitors to Restaurante Silvestre. Located in the heart of the city, in Barrio Amón, Silvestre is an old building made anew and transformed into a contemporary restaurant. The culture of Costa Rica is on display with every bite thanks to a menu that specializes in traditional seasonal flavors with an edgy take.
An old yellow house in the middle of the city with lots of stairs leads to a window full of desserts, really sweet coffee shakes and more than eight kinds of hot coffees. Cozy Café Miel features colorful tables and wooden chairs where each room of the house has its own decor and personality, so the visitor can choose where to sit and how to enjoy a classic Torta Chilena with a cup of americano.
Feria Verde de Aranjuez
Feria Verde de Aranjuez (Green Fair) is a farmer’s market open on Saturday mornings. The market was created by local producers to bring together people from different walks of life to sell locally made food, organic products and promote cultural diversity through events and arts.
Arbol de Seda
Árbol de Seda serves up comfort vegetarian food in its intimate setting. To get there, take one of the many buses from downtown San José to the Barrio Escalante neighborhood. The restaurant offers a variety of dining options beginning with a traditional Costa Rican breakfast of gallo pinto (rice and beans). There are also plantain and bean hamburgers, veggie-based meat, salads, sandwiches, vegetable soups and organic fruit smoothies.
Kalú is located in the heart of Barrio Escalante inside a big, charming house with a terrace overlooking a garden and three different spaces for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The open concept restaurant features a handmade crafts store and a coffee shop, called Cafeoteca. The trees inside and the garden give a fresh and tropical atmosphere, ideal for a weekend brunch but also a private dinner.
Azotea Calle 7
There aren’t many rooftop bars in San José, but when the weather is just right, pay a visit to Azotea Calle 7. Located on the rooftop of Hotel Presidente in downtown San José, the bar provides fantastic views of the city. And if that’s not enough, Azotea Calle 7 has its own version of the chiliguaro, an authentic Costa Rican drink made with cacique guaro (a hard liquor), limes and hot sauce.
La Ventanita Meraki
La Ventanita Meraki (Meraki’s window) is that classic place where everyone ends up after a night of partying. La Ventanita is small spot with street food options at a good price. Located near La California, one of the hottest neighborhoods in town, the popular location is street food at its finest.
El Mestizo is a unique dining spot which features 13 bar concepts in one location © Maria Esther Abissi / Lonely Planet
One location, 13 concepts. That’s what you can expect when you walk through El Mestizo’s doors. Each ‘bar’ not only offers a mix of street food with a gourmet touch, but a unique bar-style design all its own.