Cocina Eclectica

Top choice international in San José

The Escazú residence of Joanna Stein, identifiable only by a small 'J' on the door, might not seem like a restaurant. In fact it's much more. All day long, dressed in an apron and inked with dozens of tattoos, the self-taught cook pirouettes around her well-stocked kitchen preparing her personal vision of haute cuisine with local produce and exotic ingredients.

When guests arrive, she works out their dietary needs and desires, considers what's available and inspiring, and commences her labor of love. Our visit involved a soul-warming soup of cardamom, carrot and quinoa, delicious home-cured trout ceviche, and hearty chicken chicharrón with pear butter and fried potatoes. Dessert was homemade passion-fruit ice cream. The experience cost just US$12. Joanna also rents rooms in her lovely abode for US$20 to US$35 a night.