A Foodie’s Guide to Where to Eat in San Jose, Costa Rica
If you’re like me, then one of the first things you research when arriving to a new country is where to eat. We all search online and on social media for the best places to eat, knowing the locals know best. It’s true. That’s why we’re here to make it a bit easier for you, listing some of the best places to eat in San Jose, Costa Rica, at least according to us.
Where to Eat in Downtown San Jose
We mentioned a few places to eat when we listed 25 things to do in San Jose, but we thought it was worth going more into depth.
Fine Dining – Silvestre Restaurant
Silvestre Restaurant, under the guidance of Chef Santiago Fernandez Benedetto, is known as one of the finest avant garde restaurants in Costa Rica. It’s quite an experience eating here, as you’ll get a dose of vintage Costa Rican culture, as well as traditional ingredients, presented with a twist. Silvestre has one of the only tasting menus in Costa Rica, as well as many other gourmet dishes.
Fine Dining – La Terrasse French Cuisine
Eating at La Terrasse is like taking a trip to France itself. Chef Patricia Richer has created an astonishingly precious space, located in a quaint, intimate space near downtown San Jose. There are only 5 or so tables available for reservation, and more often than not, you’ll be alone or with one or two other parties at any given time.
Nice Dining – Tin Jo Asian Restaurant
What’s great about Tin Jo, is that they have some excellent dishes from all over Asia, especially China, Japan, Thailand, India, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The ambiance of the restaurant is comfortable and the dishes are great. It’s definitely a great stop if your party can’t decide what genre of food they want.
Casual Dining – Wong’s Restaurant
This might seem like an odd choice to follow some incredible fine dining, but Wong’s is a local favorite amongst almost everyone here. Wong’s is known its inexpensive and delicious dim sum more than anything. Before the pandemic, people would visit Wong’s at all hours of the day and night, since you could always trust them to be open.
Street Food – Amor de Barrio
Amor de Barrio means “Love of the neighborhood” and is a great stop for those looking for a wide variety of casual eating. Located in this renovated warehouse location are several different restaurants reminiscent of food truck style areas. While the restaurants themselves occasionally change, you can be sure there will always be a great variety of food of all genres.
Bar Food – Cothnejo-Fishy Cantina
Cothnejo-Fishy has been described as the “hispter cantina” of San Jose. Everything about this cantina is extra. The cocktails are extra complex and mesmerizing. The food is extra elegant and tasty. And the atmosphere is extra cool. It’s definitely going to give you an elevated experience of Costa Rican food.
Bar Food – Buchón Cantina
Known for both its elegant cocktails and excellent bar food, Buchón Cantina is a great place to visit if you’re looking for an upscale, yet comfortable cocktail lounge atmosphere. Recommended as a modern, fun place to visit for drinks and a bite to eat.
Bakery – Panaderia Barrio Lujan
There are bakeries all over San Jose where you can find showcases full of delectable looking pastries and baked goods. However, the Barrio Lujan Bakery is especially well-known for its soft, creamy, sweet and savory baked treats.
Where to Eat in Barrio Escalante
Barrio Escalante is the unofficial gastronomical center of the city and one of the first places locals look to when thinking about where to eat in San Jose, Costa Rica. There are so many interesting restaurants, cafes, and bars that all you have to do is take a walk down some of its streets and you’ll be sure to find something that piques your interest.
Brunch – Franco Restaurant
Who doesn’t love a great brunch, especially when it lets you eat tasty fresh food at almost any time of the day? Franco Restaurant is one of the most well-known brunch spots in all of San Jose. Here you’ll find a wonderful variety of lovingly made food at any time of the day, served side-by-side with some of the best coffee in town.
Brunch – Manos en la Masa
Manos en la Masa in English means “hands in the dough” and gives you an idea of what this beloved brunch spot is known for. Indeed, their specialty is good old-fashioned sourdough bread, which they incorporate into a wonderful menu of brunch and lunch options.
Brunch – Cafeoteca Coffee Shop
Cafeoteca offers good classic brunch and lunch style food served alongside delicious Costa Rican coffee. Located in a beautiful, light-filled house-style building, you can choose to eat there or in their garden courtyard.
Brunch – Pandeli Bakery & Delicatessen
What makes Pandeli a particularly unique place to eat breakfast, brunch, or lunch is its Spanish and mediterranean influence. It’s an intimate place to eat a different kind of brunch and people-watch on one of Barrio Escalante’s main streets.
Nice Dining – Casa Dominga
Casa Dominga resides in a place between fine dining and casual. They put a lot of care into preparing exceptional dishes, scrumptious coffee, and gorgeous pastries. They’re a very good option of food that’s great quality and delicious that the whole family can enjoy.
Nice Dining – Apotecario
Not only does Apotecario have truly wonderful cocktails and drinks, but their food is a real treat as well. Reviews of this artisan restaurant rave about the beauty of the space and the deliciousness of the menu, which focuses on handmade dishes and local ingredients.
Casual Dining – Lolo’s Pizza
Lolo’s Pizza was one of the first restaurants in the Barrio Escalante area and fundamental in establishing this neighborhood as a center for gastronomic greatness. While everyone has different preferences for how they like their pizza, many people claim Lolo’s has the best. This semi-underground locale is definitely a great place to visit for both culture and good eats.
Casual Dining – Ramenezco Ramen Laboratory
Ramenezco is a fun addition to the Barrio Escalante food scene and a great place to eat if you like ramen and specialty Japanese dishes. They’re always experimenting to improve their ramen dishes and offer new, fun options.
Street Food – Jardin de Lolita
Jardin de Lolita, or Lolita’s Garden, as it’s translated is another gastronomical market where you can find a variety of restaurant stands with quite a bit of centralized outdoor and semi-outdoor seating. Burgers, sushi, fish and chips, drinks, and other kinds of street food are all local favorites, especially when visiting with groups of friends or family.
Where to Eat in Escazu
Escazu, located to the west of downtown San Jose, is known as being a kind of “little USA”. As one of the more upscale parts of the capital, you can be sure to find plenty of good food here.
Nice Dining – Kololo Ramen
Kololo Ramen prides itself on being the first restaurant to provide San Jose with authentic ramen. That being said, they’ve earned the right to their pride, since their ramen and other traditional Korean dishes are excellent. The restaurant itself is so beautifully decorated that you can easily forget you’re in a commercial center in Costa Rica.
Nice Dining – Bacchus Ristorante
Bacchus is an upscale Italian restaurant where you can expect your food to be comforting, delicious, and beautiful. Praised for their attentive service and artistically curated restaurant, this Santa Ana restaurant is a good choice for couples or families with older children.
Nice Dining – La Divina Comida
La Divina Comida is known for spectacular Peruvian fusion cuisine that is both masterfully made and artistically arranged. This restaurant is located in the popular Avenida Escazu, providing both indoor and outdoor seating and a warm and friendly environment with helpful staff.
Nice Dining – Taj Mahal
Stepping into Taj Mahal in Escazu is almost like stepping down into India itself. They’ve made a delightful environment, full of the sights, sounds, and smells you’d expect from a restaurant cooking up delicious Indian food. You’ll find hearty options for the whole family here.
Nice Dining – Gallo Rojo
Gallo Rojo calls itself “urban gastronomy”, inspired by different cities and cultures around the world. People love mixing and matching food Peru, the Caribbean, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, among other countries into delectable meals.
Brunch – Picnic Deli & Cafe
Picnic Deli & Cafe is the ideal place to go and enjoy the morning, any day of the week. Outdoor seating under the trees and surrounded by flowers to provide a gorgeous backdrop to your favorite deli dishes, created with love and local ingredients.
Brunch – Mocapan
One of the things that makes Mocapan stand out from other brunch spots is that it is actually a German bakery. While you can find many healthy brunch and lunch classics, keep an eye out for the German menu items. Both are sure to satisfy, whether you’re alone, with your partner, or with the whole family. You can find Mocapan restaurants in Escazu, Santa Ana, and Pinares, on the Eastern side.
Brunch – La Hacienda
La Hacienda is another magical brunch and lunch spot that transports you out of the city. In their case, you’re taken straight to the Costa Rican countryside as you dine in or outside their traditional “hacienda” style house. Options include both brunch favorites and well-made Costa Rican classics.
Brunch – Bulali
Bulali has truly perfected the classics: breakfasts, sandwiches, soups, and salads. When you choose to eat here, you’ll ensure excellent service and a filling, delicious meal surrounded by the warm glow of wood and bee decorations. If you choose outdoor seating, it’s a great place to people and dog watch due to its location in the heart of Avenida Escazu, a popular upscale commercial center.
Casual Dining – El Mestizo Gastronomic Market
El Mestizo Market is the ultimate place to go if your party can’t decide on what kind of food they want. There are dozens of different restaurants in this bustling, upscale gastronomic market. From steaks to street food, a dozen different kinds of international cuisine, and more tantalizing menus than you can imagine. Bring the family and let everyone choose their dream meal here.
Casual Dining – Santa Ana Town Center
Here’s another gem for those looking for a huge amount of delicious culinary variety. Santa Ana Town Center hosts dozens of restaurants where everyone can find something they love. Shout out to Distrito Federal, where you can find some of the best authentic Mexican food in Costa Rica.
Casual Dining – Nacion Sushi
Nacion Sushi is not your average sushi restaurant. Indeed, they go above and beyond the kind of sushi you’ve ever had. Literally, you may have never seen sushi so extravagant. It might not be the most traditional sushi, but it’s a fun and tasty option for sure.
Do You Now Know Where to Eat in San Jose, Costa Rica?
Hopefully this exhaustive list has given you some inspiring ideas of where to eat in San Jose, Costa Rica. If you have any tasty restaurants, cantinas, or brunch spots to add, feel free to let us know! Camino Travel’s goal is to provide tourists with trusted options of the best places to eat, travel and enjoy our beautiful country!