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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Bars/ Pubs 6

Cafes–Nightlife 14

Dance Clubs 5

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San Jose Nightlife

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La Bodeguita del Medio

  • Bars/Pubs

The mojitos flow and the chips and guacamole keep coming at this west-side restaurant that showcases live (usually Cuban) music most...

Mac's American Bar

  • Bars/Pubs

An older expat crowd hangs out at Mac's, which always has the TV tuned to a sporting event. It might even have the city's best burger.

Merecumbé

  • Dance Clubs

Step into a San José nightclub and you might think Costa Ricans are born dancing. They aren't, but most learn to merengue, rumba, mambo,...

Olio

  • Cafes–Nightlife

Fill up on Spanish-style tapas at the Mediterranean bar and restaurant Olio. It draws a mix of professionals and older college students.

Omar Khayyam

  • Cafes–Nightlife

Smack-dab in the center of the campus nightlife, Omar Khayyam is a blissfully quiet refuge. Share a jug of wine and falafel or hummus...

Q'Café

  • Cafes–Nightlife

There's lots of chrome at this downtown second-floor café that brews its own coffee from the Tarrazú and Naranjo regions. Grab a seat...

Ram Luna

  • Themed Entertainment

In the far, far southern suburbs, Ram Luna is most famous for the views—the lights of the Central Valley sparkle at your feet—and...

Saboreaté y Café

  • Cafes–Nightlife

It's as much about the tea as it is about the coffee at this small, cozy downtown café, a branch of a Spanish chain.

Starbucks

  • Cafes–Nightlife

The coffee and bakery selections are just like back in the United States at the Costa Rican outlets of the ubiquitous chain. You'll find...

Vyrus

  • Bars/Pubs

There is occasionally live music at Vyrus on the weekend, which draws a mixed college student and young professional crowd. Videos from...

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