San José Costa Rica Travel Guide

  • Parque Morazan in downtown San Jose
    Parque Morazan in downtown San Jose
    by caminoreal
  • A typical
    A typical "casado" meal -- cheap &...
    by caminoreal
  • The INS tower site is circled here.
    The INS tower site is circled here.
    by caminoreal

San José Costa Rica Restaurants

  • Quiet and elegant

    Don't speak Spanish? That's OK. Asta, the bar/restaurant manager here, is from Lithuania and speaks fluent English, Spanish and several other European languages. She took over this restaurant in 2009 and has done a wonderful job with it. The menu is not extensive, but it is varied. It has a few seafood dishes, soups, a few pastas and risottos, a...

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  • Peruvian cuisine; excellent

    This chain of restaurants in and around San Jose has a really varied menu including beef, chicken, pork, sea food and more. It is moderately priced and every thing I have ordered there has been satisfying and tasty. I had grilled Corvina, fried calamari and a Caeasar Salad. All good.

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  • Great seafood, great ceviche

    A favorite place for locals having "beer & bocas," this open-air seafood restaurant in Curridabat, on the east edge of San Jose, is a great place for snacking or a great seafood meal. It's casual and the service is good. It is located just east of the giant EPA (home building supplies) store in San Pedro/Curridabat. I love the ceviche. And they...

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  • Good seafood

    The food is great. The service is excellent, but it's a little pricey by Costa Rican standards.I paid $70 for a meal for two -- cheap in Europe, but extravagant in Costa Rica.This is the restaurant owned by the Hotel Del Rey across the street, but it's a bit more upscale than the bar/restaurant in the hotel building. You can still dress very...

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  • American-style barbecue

    JR's serves a variety of good barbecue ribs -- pork and beef, short ribs, baby backs, etc. Picky barbecue eaters might quibble about the saucesc, etc., but it's pretty good barbecue. Barbecued ribs -- served in quarter-, half- and full racks. The baby back ribs are good too.

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  • Sodas

    You'll find familiar fast-food and chain restaurants here, but try the local cafes, called "sodas", instead. You'll get a tasty and nourishing meal, usually consisting of some kind of grilled or stewed meat, accompanied by rice, black beans (often mixed as "gallo pinto,") and a salad and drink; almost always for less than $5 US. Just order a...

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San José Costa Rica Nightlife

  • caminoreal's Profile Photo
    The Hotel Del Rey

    by caminoreal Updated Jun 17, 2008

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    The famous, or should I say infamous, Hotel Del Rey in downtown San Jose is where men from all over the world go to pick up "working" girls who hang out in the ground-floor casino and bar. Even if it is not your cup of tea, it's interesting just to stroll through the bar/casino at mid-afternoon and see the ladies in action.

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San José Costa Rica Shopping

  • caminoreal's Profile Photo

    by caminoreal Updated Jun 16, 2008

    If you're staying in downtown San Jose, these two stores can come in handy for a variety of purchases. Both are within two or three blocks of Parque Morazan and most of the large hotels.

    What to buy: These two downtown "grocery" stores aren't big supermarkets, but they're much bigger than convenience stores. They have just about everything you'll find in a supermarket, from toiletries and over the counter medicines, to tobacco, beverages, produce, meat, snacks, food, bakery goods, liquor, beer and wine, etc.

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San José Costa Rica Warnings and Dangers

  • by ccrenbel Updated Dec 20, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    we reserved and paid online. rented a car for 7 days. total rate was $198.00 US.
    on the website they listed insurance rates from $12-$20 a day. THE WEBSITE LIES!!
    on arrival, they told us that there is

    MANDATORY INSURANCE PLUS A HOLD ON THE CREDIT CARD WHICH MORE THAN DOUBLED OUR RATE!!!!

    So, here are the unbelievably high rates:

    $650 in insurance paid, PLUS hold on credit card: $500.00
    $ 580 in insurance paid, PLUS hold on credit card: $1700.00
    $ 499 in insurance paid, PLUS hold on credit card: $2500.00

    We had no other transportation arrangements. We were forced to pay this high rate or not have a way around to our pre arranged hotels.
    The website gave completely wrong rates.
    I suggest pre arranging an airport transfer from your hotel. The car was a bad idea all the way around.

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San José Costa Rica Favorites

  • caminoreal's Profile Photo
    The INS tower site is circled here.

    by caminoreal Written Jun 17, 2008

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    Favorite thing: The tall building across the street from Parque Espana, a big, gray high-rise, is called the Instituto Nacional de Seguros -- the Insurance Institute Building. It's useful as a landmark for walking around downtown, but it also has some dependable cash machines (ask for "caceros") outside, and a bank inside on the second floor.

    Not only can you do banking transactions here, you can purchase your "exit tax" papers here. That can save you standing in a long line at the airport on the way out of the country. I've known of travelers missing their outbound flights because the lines were long at the exit tax counter at the airport, so paying your "impuesto de salir" ahead of time can be helpful. Just remember to hang on to your paperwork. Keep it with your passport.

    At the INS tower, go up the escalator and turn to your right. The counters in front of you and to your left are not the bank. The bank is to your right, enclosed in glass windows.

    So far, the Jade museum is also in the INS building, although I saw a newspaper story in May '08 that said they were searching for another home for that museum.

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San José Costa Rica Travel Guide
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