San Jose Nightlife

The metro area's hottest nightlife has migrated to the Central Valley suburbs of Escazú and Heredia these days. Both are about 20- to 30-minute taxi rides from downtown San José. The capital isn't devoid of places to go in the evening, however. There are still plenty of bars, dance clubs, and restaurants and cafés where you can spend the evening. Take taxis to and from when you go; it’s the

safest option if you’re out after dark. Most places will be happy to call you a cab—or, if there's a guard, he can hail you one—when it's time to call it a night. Remember that all venues are nonsmoking.

No one could accuse San José of having too few watering holes, but aside from the hotels there aren't many places to have a quiet drink, especially downtown. Barrios Amón and Otoya have little in the way of nightlife outside the occasional hotel bar.

The young and the restless hang out in the student-oriented places around the University of Costa Rica in the eastern suburb of San Pedro. The Calle de la Amargura (Street of Bitterness), named for the route Jesus took to the crucifixion, is much more secular than its name suggests and rocks loudly each night. (Nighttime robberies have occurred on "The Calle," so be wary.)

Don't write off every place around the university as rowdy. There are a few quiet bars and cafés where you can carry on a real conversation. Barrios La California and Escalante, an area anchored by the Santa Teresita church, connect central San José with San Pedro, and house some of the city's trendiest nightspots.

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San Jose Nightlife

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Cafeoteca

  • Cafes–Nightlife

This café sits at the entrance to the trendy Kalú restaurant and blends and roasts its own coffee on-site.

Café 1930

  • Cafes–Nightlife

The café under the arcades at the entrance to the Grand Hotel Costa Rica pulls duty as a pleasant place for a drink or coffee. Listen...

Café Miel Costa Rica

  • Cafes–Nightlife

A scant two tables and a small counter are the only seating at this tiny place, which serves up coffee from its own finca in Tarrazú...

Café Mundo

  • Cafes–Nightlife

The highly recommended restaurant Café Mundo is a quiet spot for a drink or bite to eat and is frequented by gay and bohemian crowds.

Café del Barista

  • Cafes–Nightlife

The rain does get a bit loud on the metal roof, but the wide selection of coffee drinks here is worth the occasional racket. ...

Club Unión

  • Cafes–Nightlife

The elevated, glassed-in café here lets you survey the ongoing hive of activity on the small, shaded plaza in front of the post office.

El Observatorio

  • Bars/Pubs

El Observatorio strikes an unusual balance between casual and formal: it's the kind of place where folks over 30 go to watch a soccer...

Jazz Café San Pedro

  • Bars/Pubs

This place draws big crowds for the nightly live music (except Sunday). Although the staple here is jazz, rock and funk acts play here...

Juan Valdez Café

  • Cafes–Nightlife

This sleek, modern coffee shop is an island of all-Colombian products in Costa Rica.

La Avispa

  • Dance Clubs

A gay and lesbian crowd frequents La Avispa, which has two dance floors with videos and karaoke, as well as a quieter upstairs bar with...

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