San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city and first stop for the vast majority of visitors to this popular vacation destination, offers much more to the curious traveler than an international airport. The city of San Jose Costa Rica also provides some of the best fine dining experiences in Central America, and the variety is impressive.
For some of the finest Italian food anywhere on earth, for instance, try the La Piazetta restaurant in the La Sabana section of San Jose Costa Rica. The waiters at La Piazetta wear suits and bow ties and the menu and wine list are extensive. Several lobster dishes and authentically prepared risotto dishes are available, and the veal scaloppine in truffle sauce is amazing. The colorful salads are arranged like tiny works of art, and the tiramisu is to die for. Italian fine dining doesn’t get much better than this unless you go to Italy.
Looking for elegance and leisure? Located just off the central courtyard at the Grano de Oro hotel is the elegant Grano de Oro Restaurant, a wonderful place to while away several delicious hours.
Try the medallions of filet minon stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese in sherry sauce, and finish up with the fresh pears in a thick brandy reduction. The macadamia-encrusted corvina in a light orange sauce is also an excellent choice for those who prefer fish. The restaurant’s signature dish, however, is the Grano de Oro pie, a decadent concoction that consists of multiple layers of chocolate and coffee creams. Grab a table in the courtyard when the weather is nice.
On the west side of San Jose Costa Rica, La Luz serves up some of the most adventurous fusion cuisine in the country, so if California cooking is your thing, head there first. Fiery garlic shrimp are sautéed with ancho chiles and sage, and then served over a garlicky potato mash. Fried leels in Tequila lime butter accompany the dish. The beef tenderloin in a strawberry-balsamic reduction is also very good, and comes alongside a champagne-infused risotto.
La Luz features a glass-walled dining room with a breathtaking view of the city lights, and is hands down one of the most elegant fine dining places in town. The wait staff takes the food seriously and knows a lot about it, making La Luz an excellent choice for continental gourmets looking for real haute cuisine.
For a hearty fine dining experience at an authentic Costa Rican steakhouse, check out El Chicote, one of the most popular places in town. The waiters at El Chicote also wear black suits and bow ties, giving the place an uncharacteristically upscale feel for a steakhouse and the food, though basic, is wonderful. Steaks, chicken, and fish all come with a choice of baked or mashed potato, beans, and fresh tortillas, and the wine list features Italian, French, Californian, and Spanish offerings. The portions are enormous, so even the most enthusiastic gourmand will go away satisfied.
San Juan Costa Rica is definitely worth exploring. Though the city is hardly ever a primary destination and mostly serves as a gateway to the beaches of the west coast and the volcanoes and rain forests of the central plains, the fine dining options alone make venturing out of your hotel room worth the trouble.
Bring an appetite!