North and East of Downtown

Immediately northeast of downtown lie Barrio Amón and Barrio Otoya. Both neighborhoods are repositories of historic houses that have escaped the wrecking ball; many now serve as hotels, restaurants, galleries, and offices—a few are even private residences. Where these barrios begin and end depends on who's doing the talking. Locales on the fringes of the city center prefer to be associated with these "good neighborhoods" rather than with downtown. Barrio Escalante, to the east, has quickly become San José's hippest neighborhood, with an ever-increasing number of restaurants and bars.

The sprawling suburb of San Pedro begins several blocks east of downtown San José. It's home to the University of Costa Rica and all the intellect and cheap eats and nightlife that a student could desire. But away from the heart of the university, San Pedro is awash with malls, fast-food restaurants, and car dealerships—although it manages to mix in such stately districts as Los Yoses for good measure. To get to San Pedro, take a $3 taxi ride from downtown and get off in front of Banco Nacional, just beyond the rotunda with the fountain at its center.

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