P F Chang’s - Congrats to P F Chang’s for bringing its classy international template to Costa Rica. The undertaking required enormous preparation and training of kitchen and waitstaff and they managed remarkably well. From the gorgeous horse statues facing the entrance to Avenida Escazu and flanking the front door to the table settings, attention to detail is worthy of praise. It is a beautiful venue. Although I am not their biggest fan in North America because of more authentic regional competitive options in large cities, they do bring more choices to the table for Chinese food fans here. The vast majority of first timers vow to return. Lunchtime crowds of white-collar workers flock to the front door before the noon opening. Appetizers seem to be the most popular from what I have observed, particularly the lettuce wraps and dynamite shrimp. The hot and sour soup is great. Rich dark broth is redolent with black pepper, quality vinegar, lily buds, cloud ears and more – the best rendition I have eaten in Pura Vida land. Long hand pulled Tan Tan or Dan Dan noodles with a spicy dark rich Sichuan sauce has always been a personal favorite of mine. Their rendition is not great by international norms, but excels by Tico standards. It and a vegetarian rendition of Mapo Tofu are only on the dinner menu, but either can be ordered for lunch. My dining partners have been more complimentary of the chicken dishes than I would have been because I find the basic chicken nugget design less appealing. They all raved about the various sauces that bathed the nuggets. Two companions liked the salt and pepper calamari least of all the ten dishes the four of us tried and shared. For spice lovers, you have to ask for the spiciest option available. The table condiments are very nice. All in all, P F Chang’s is a welcomed expansion of upscale Asian offerings in a lovely setting with well-trained professional servers and visually appealing, healthy portions of flavorful well-prepared dishes. Valet parking is available. 220-88844 Opens daily at noon. Closes at 10PM Sunday thru Thursday, 11PM Friday and Saturday.
Rincón Cubano - Owner Arturo Napoles is a charmer intent on pleasing folks like Joan and me who are lovers of Cuban food. He opened this cheerful and festive little gem about three months ago next door to La Fabbrica in Plaza Momentum on the Santa Ana Radial. When club Cubano ceased to be Cuban and Gua Gua closed, we tried two other “Cuban “ eateries in San Jose with disappointing results. Now Arturo gets our vote for favorite Cuban eats. Thus far, the crowds have not discovered it, but I am convinced they will. All they have to do is taste the pulled pork picadillo with olives and raisins, the bursting-with-old- Havana-flavor of beef ropa vieja, the traditional Cuban style vaca frita roasted beef or the delicious roast pork sandwich. His menu continues to expand to include these classic favorites: Cuban chicharrones, ham croquettes, shrimp creole, roast pork with mojo sauce, a number of chicken and seafood dishes, sandwiches and salads. Cuban style live music fills the room on weekends. Very friendly staff help make you feel like a guest in Arturo’s home at Rincón Cubano. Despite its newness to the expansive and competitive Santa Ana dining scene, it has already climbed to number 6 on Tripadviser’s charts with a four and a half of five star rating. Prices are mid-range. Sun 12:00 - 20:00, Mon - Thu 12:00 - 21:30, Fri - Sat 12:00 - 23:00 2582-2495. Executive lunches for ₡4800 weekdays from noon to 2:30
Madame Cheese - We spent September in France and had the good fortune to attend a master class in food and wine tasting in Chartres. We hopped from cheese shop to bakery to wine and champagne cellar there, in Burgundy, Lorraine, Epernay and Paris like kids trick-or-treating on their maiden Halloween. If only we had such options at home, we mused. Hooray! We do have a decent, though not as spectacular as the French models, option in Guachipelin just 100 meters south of District 4. Madame Cheese is a café, wine bar, bakery and fine place for a cheese and fruit platter, a nice lunch or dinner and great roasted tomato soup.They do have creamy dulce de leche with a hint of Gorgonzola flavor, yummy with a crisp fruity Chilean white wine and a small stem of grapes.It is a charming artistically decorated mid-priced delightful little place with a small French garden.
Open from Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 10:30 PM. After an end of the year vacation, they will re-open on January 13th.
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