San Jose Restaurants

Costa Rica's capital beckons with the country's most varied and cosmopolitan restaurant scene. Italian, Spanish, Asian, French, Middle Eastern, Peruvian—they're all here, along with upscale Costa Rican cuisine.

Wherever you eat in San José, be it a small soda or a sophisticated restaurant, dress is casual. Meals tend to be taken earlier than in other Latin American countries; few restaurants serve past 9 or 10 pm. Local cafés usually open for breakfast at 7 am and remain open until 7 or 8 in the evening. Restaurants serving international cuisine are usually open from 11 am to 9 pm. Some cafés that serve mainly San José office workers limit evening hours and close entirely on Sunday. Restaurants that do open on Sunday do a brisk business: it's the traditional family day out (and the maid's day off). Watch your things, no matter where you dine. Even at the best restaurants, thieves occasionally target purses slung over chair arms or placed under chairs.

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  • 1. Grano de Oro Restaurant

    $$$ | Paseo Colón

    The Hotel Grano de Oro houses one of San José's premier dining destinations: a splendid restaurant wrapped around a lovely indoor patio and bromeliad-filled garden....Read More

  • 2. Jürgen's

    $$$ | Barrio Dent

    A common haunt for políticos, Jürgen's attracts San José's elites, and you'll feel pretty elite too when you dine at this contemporary restaurant with leather...Read More

  • 3. Kalú

    $$$ | Barrio Escalante

    At one of the capital's trendiest dining spots, the panini and pastas are the standouts, but Kalú's menu incorporates Costa Rican, Thai, and American elements,...Read More

  • 4. Le Chandelier

    $$$$

    Formal service and traditional sauce-heavy French dishes are part of the experience at this elegant dining room with wicker chairs, tile floors, and original paintings....Read More

  • 5. Restaurante Silvestre

    $$$$ | Barrio Amón

    Chef Santiago Fernandez is at the helm of this ambitious and wildly successful exploration of upscale contemporary Costa Rican cuisine. The regularly changing menus use...Read More

  • 6. Tin Jo

    $$$

    The colorful dining rooms of this converted house evoke Japan, India, China, Indonesia, and Thailand. Start with a powerful Singapore sling (brandy and fruit juices)...Read More

  • 7. A Dos Manos

    $$ | Barrio Escalante

    The name translates as “with two hands,” and that’s what it takes to handle the monster burgers here. The capital’s best burgers are made from...Read More

  • 8. Alma de Café

    $

    Duck into the Teatro Nacional's sumptuous café, off the theater lobby, to sit at a marble table and sip a hazelnut mocha beneath frescoed ceilings....Read More

  • 9. Café Miel Garage

    $ | Barrio Otoya

    A scant two tables and a small counter are the only seating in this tiny converted garage. But the coffee, harvested from its own plantation...Read More

  • 10. Café Mundo

    $$ | Barrio Otoya

    The upstairs café at this corner restaurant serves meals on a porch, on a garden patio, or in two dining rooms. Try the soup of...Read More

  • 11. Café Otoya Bistro

    $$ | Barrio Otoya

    The warm and welcoming vibe that exudes from this very cool Barrio Otoya café is only enhanced by the friendly, attentive staff. Diners are a...Read More

  • 12. Cafeoteca

    $ | Barrio Escalante

    This café blends and roasts its own coffee on-site which pairs well with the cakes and pies on offer. All coffees served here are also...Read More

  • 13. Club Unión

    $ | Downtown

    This elevated, glassed-in café lets you survey the ongoing hive of activity on the small, shaded plaza in front of the post office. While Club...Read More

  • 14. Dolce Gelato

    $$ | Barrio Escalante

    The homemade gelato served at Dolce Gelato gives Costa Rica’s ubiquitous Pop’s ice cream chain a run for its money. These folks get adventurous with...Read More

  • 15. Don Wang

    $$

    In a country where "Chinese cuisine" usually means simply white rice and vegetables, Don Wang's authenticity is a treat. Cantonese cuisine is the mainstay, and...Read More

  • 16. Entre Nous

    $ | Barrio Escalante | Eclectic

    It’s the crepes—salty or sweet—that draw the crowds here. It’s a bright, cheery place with a covered terrace to stop for dessert after an evening...Read More

  • 17. Franco

    $ | Barrio Escalante

    Fashionable Franco serves gourmet beverages made from the country’s premium coffees. Your inner amateur barista may want to check into the slate of coffee workshops...Read More

  • 18. Giacomín

    $ | Los Yoses

    We have to admit that Costa Rican baked goods tend toward the dry-as-dust end of the spectrum, but Italian-style bakery Giacomín, near the University of...Read More

  • 19. Juan Valdez Café

    $ | Sabana Norte

    This sleek, modern west-side coffee shop and store is an island of all-Colombian products, both beverage and souvenirs, in Costa Rica. They serve cakes, pastries,...Read More

  • 20. L'Olivo

    $$$ | Paseo Colón

    The vaulted ceilings and a vineyard mural on one wall evoke old Italy at this restaurant serving homemade pastas—spinach cannelloni and linguine with clam sauce...Read More

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