Fans of choripanes, churrasco, vacio and chorizo can find those famous succulent cuts of the Pampas at a number of places in San José. Here are a few of those places:
Avenida 2/Calle 38
Across the street from Parque Benemeritos
Monday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
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A good option on the west side of town in the Paseo Colon/La Sabana area. Aquí Es! is a cozy place with a full offering of Argentine-styled meats, empanadas, desserts, and pastas. This place is consistently good with a decent wine list, nice atmosphere, and terrific service. Only evening hours are Friday and Saturday. Street parking.
Calle 11 at Avenida 4
Behind La Soledad Church
Monday through Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Open since 2004, La Esquina is one of San José’s most renowned fine dining establishments and a go-to place in the downtown area. Featuring an extensive menu of wines as well as the requisite meat dishes including a churrasco finished off at the table. Offerings also include pastas, salads, empanadas, and desserts with a full bar and knowledgeable bartenders. La Esquina is usually crowded with an eclectic array of customers including expats, local intelligentsia, politicians, and chepe society. Service is excellent, perhaps the best in town. Reservations are recommended. Parking available in a lot or on the street.
250 meters west of Plaza Mayor
Plaza de la Amistad shopping center
Rohrmoser Boulevard in Rohrmoser
Monday to Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m.
This cozy place on the west side of San José on the tree-lined boulevard in Rohrmoser and near the U.S. Embassy has a modest but adequate menu of Argentine empanadas, steaks, chorizo, pastas, salads, and deserts. Malbec lovers will find an ample number of choices moderately priced. Service is good. The place is small so reservations for larger parties are recommended. Parking in the shopping center lot.
25 meters north of the Rostipollos
Monday to Saturday: 11 a.m. To 11 :p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
If you can’t make it to downtown, Tierra Gaucha maybe the next best thing after La Esquina de Buenos Aires. Located in a pleasant neighborhood close to other restaurants and an easy walk from the Crown Plaza Coribici, Tierra Gaucha features large steaks, churrasco, pastas, etc. along with an excellent list of malbecs and other wines. They can handle larger groups. Weekends are crowded and reservations are recommended. Street parking.
In the Plaza Mayor food court
No web or Facebook listings
This new place serves Argentine fast food. Quick stop for choripan, milanesas al caballo, empanadas, etc. Most for under 5,000 colons. Parking in the Plaza Mayor covered or uncovered lots.
175 meters south of Channel 7
La Sabana area
Monday to Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
No web or Facebook listings
Think soda rather than restaurant, this tiny place has been well known since the 1980s for their excellent fried Argentine empanadas. La Gauchada is a favorite of expat Argentines, local television personalities, and business people who work on the west side of La Sabana park. Most people order to take out and eat in their home, office, or across the street in the park. Street parking.
Avenida 2a, south side of the Teatro Nacional
Monday to Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. To 11tp.m.
Whether you’re going to the Teatro Ncional or one of the dozens of small theaters in the area around the national theatre, you might want to take advantage of Tenedor Argentino’s best feature which is its location on Avenida Segunda. Upstairs seating on the balcony offers a tremendous view of the national theatre, the busy avenue and the Gran Hotel Costa Rica. Although the restaurant has steaks and full entrees, most diners delve into the appetizers including the empanadas. An ample wine selection makes it a perfect stop before a show. Street parking.
100 meters south of Plaza Vivo
100 meters north of Fátima church
Monday and Tuesday: noon until 3 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday: 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Friday: noon to 3 p.m. And 6:30 to 11 p.m.
Satruday: noon to 11 p.m.
Sunday: noon to 7 p.m.
Established in 2003 on the east side of San José in Los Yoses, Donde Carlos is a favorite haunt of San José’s business community out for an elegant expense account style lunch or dinner. The place exudes exclusivity and lacks the atmosphere of La Esquina or Aqui Es. Still, the menu has something for everyone in the genre of Argentine cuisine for those who doesn’t want to make the trek downtown. Wines abound as well. Service and food are good, but not always consistent. Parking.
Editor’s Note: Author Flynn is a fan of Costa Rica and of good restaurants.