Happy New Year and Buen Provecho!
I am going to do updates with restaurant reviews as before but I am adding location summaries in addition. Today we start with Ciudad Colon. We shall explore Alajuela, Atenas, Curridabat, Escazú, Grecia, Heredia, La Garita, Moravia, Pavas, Puriscal, Rohrmoser, San Jose East, San Jose West, San Pedro, San Ramon, Santa Ana and any other Central Valley locations of your choosing. To express your opinion, or to add to my knowledge of eateries in your city or town, please contact me by e-mail at email@example.com and put “food” in the subject line to bypass my spam filter. I’ll include your name and preferences in the location summary.
Ciudad Colon: Thanks to local residents Carol Marujo and Richard and Barbara Highgate for keeping me up-to-date about their town’s restaurant scene.
Maya’s Biergarten closed without warning. The German cuisine, beers and wines will be missed.
Aroi Thai plans to reopen a week before the New Year after an eight-month hiatus according to employees who live in Ciudad Colon. Welcome back. I sincerely hope that they can resurrect what I considered the best Thai cuisine in the country.
L’italiano opened in August a kilometer west of the route 27 Ciudad Colon exit toll plaza. It sits on the north side of the main road where the barbecue place had been. It is owned by the same Italian family as Il Padrino on the main road in Pavas that runs from La Sabana toward the American Embassy. The menu is quite similar, less expensive and has the major advantage of easy parking out front. It should do well. I have a number of friends who love Il Padrino. My reluctance to join in their praise is that to my palate they lack ample amounts of Italian flavors like basil, garlic and oregano in otherwise bright and fresh tomato sauces and in their “Italian sausage” that also is missing any fennel seed. Despite the road noise, the interior is pleasant, service friendly and ingredients of good quality. Phone: 4031-2800
Sol Y Tierra is a brand new authentic Indian vegetarian restaurant that only opened in mid December. I ate there as they were just installing shelves in the kitchen, painting the walls and planning a menu. There was no sign, but they are 50 meters west of the Delta Gas Station on Avenida Tres adjacent to the veterinarian. The owners, husband and wife, Ram and Minbai (pronounced Min bee) Hirani are natives of the Indian state of Gujarat in the northwest corner of India, south of the Pakistani border where the Kutch Desert meets the Arabian Sea. They have lived in West Africa and Canada. We are fortunate to have them now in Ciudad Colon. On just their fifth day open to the public, I had a mixed platter of turmeric yellow long grain rice elevated deftly with a hint of clove, potato and green beans seasoned with classic Indian spices, a cup of dal of the day (she alternates among beans, lentils, black-eyed peas or split peas), chutneys of the day (mine were cilantro and green mango and a pineapple chutney – both very tasty). The plate came with a pair of tortillas, the flour milled on site and grilled to order for ₡4500. For an additional ₡1000, I drank home brewed ice tea mixed with fresh squeezed lime. Very humble eatery. Fabulous flavors. Not very spicy so even Ticos can enjoy the food. Lovely people. She cleans and dries all the spices and grinds her own blends and crafts her own sauces and chutneys. He sells samosas at the local farmers’ market. I will revisit often. Closed Tuesdays. Otherwise open 10 AM to 8 PM
Sabor a Pueblo is an old time typical Costa Rican eatery with campesino decorations, spit roasted chicken, pork tamales, corn pancakes and more, large portions at reasonable prices.
Café Arte is a burgers, bocas bar and beer place next to POPS. Tomatos features wings and Pizza.
Yogurtini has opened next to Fresh Market
Vino Mundo (restaurant and wine bar), Che Pizza (Argentinean and Italian) and Cantinetta El Marisco (fresh seafood well prepared and artistically plated at reasonable cost) continue to please diners who share their opinions with me.
The small basic Greek-to-go venue, El Griego, has moved to a slightly larger space just around the corner across from the park.
Mark Chestnut of the travel site Latinflyer.com asked for an overview of our top eateries. His request was a reminder that I haven’t shared my list of personal favorites for a number of years. So for Mark and for us, here are my current favorites with no regard to bang for the buck until the final two: (Top ten followed by a single*.)
#1 Park Café * in Escazú. The chef, Richard Neat, has Michelin stars for two previous restaurants in London and Cannes and a Top 50 in the World accolade from Conde Naste for a third in Marrakesh. Park Café holds top spot.
American bar food: Tap House, Santa Ana two locations (Burgers, pulled pork, Reubens, etc.)
American breakfast: Taco Bar, chain
Argentinean restaurant: La Esquina de Buenos Aires*, San Jose
Bakery: La Toscana*, Escazú (Only place left with quality bagels)
Chinese: P F Chang, Escazú
Dim sum Hong Kong style: Casa China, San Jose
French restaurant: La Terrasse*, San Jose
French café and bakery: Chez Christophe, Escazú
Indian restaurant: A Taste of India, Escazú
International restaurants (tie): El Grano de Oro*, San Jose and Saga, Escazú*
Italian restaurant: Bacchus*, Santa Ana
Middle Eastern restaurant: Sash, Rohrmoser (Lebanese)
Pan-Asian: Tin Ho*, San Jose Dishes from China, Japan, Korea, India, Philippines and Thailand
Paired wine and tasting menu by chef Gustavo Alvarado: Taller Gastronomico El Punto*, Escazú (molecular gastronomy)
Pizza: La Fabbrica, chain (thin crust)
Peruvian restaurant: Macchu Pichu*, Santa Ana and San Jose
Salvadorian pupusas: Fiesta de la Pupusas, Atenas
Seafood restaurant: Pescatore*, Escazú
Steakhouse: Doris Metropolitan*, Santa Ana
Sushi/Japanese restaurant: Kiraku, Escazú
Tex-Mex: Jalapeños Central, Alajuela
Thai restaurant: Aroi Thai, Ciudad Colon
Tico bar and bocas: El Rancho de Laly, Santa Ana
Tico ceviche: Donde Georges, La Guácima
Tico chicharrones: Oviedo, La Guácima
Tico restaurant La Crillolita, San Jose
Tico coffee root spit-roasted chicken: Pollos Del Monte, San Antonio de Belén
Vietnamese: Pho Café and Restaurant, Santa Ana
Great Steak for less than ₡10,000: La Trocha del Boyeros, Escazú
Good Seafood for less than ₡7000: Cantinita el Marisco, Ciudad Colon