The best restaurants in San Jose

photo by Arvind Grover

San Jose is home to about half of Costa Rica’s population, and with so many mouths to feed, there is obviously no shortage of eateries in town. From high-end dining to neighborhood joints where the staff knows all the customers, open air markets with stalls selling hot food, restaurants with ethnic foods on the menu, San Jose has it all. A foodie will not be disappointed in San Jose, that much is for sure, and those who are mindful of their budget will also be able to save a pretty penny even if they eat out every day. For the hungry traveler, here are some of the best restaurants in San Jose.

Mercado Central

Although not really a restaurant, the Central Market of San Jose has several small restaurants and countless food stalls – you can just walk around the market, pick up whatever strikes your fancy and by the time you’ve done your round, your stomach will be full of delicious food. Here you can find delicacies like sopa de pescado (fish soup), squid in its own ink, and ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice).

Bar Poas

photo by Rodrigo Dionisio

The walls of this small restaurant is decorated with the photos of regular customers, which is a clear indication of how important customers are at Bar Poas. The food is generally Gringo and Tico cuisine, and the house specialty is chili con carne (Bar Poas’s chili is award winning). The staff of this cozy, dimly lit bar is friendly, and the regulars are known to sometimes share useful advice about San Jose with the visitors.


Ganesha, contrary to what the name indicates, is not only an Indian restaurant – it specializes in a bewildering mix of Indian, Middle Eastern and European cuisine. If you feel like you’re in dire need of hummus, kebab or chicken tikka masala, then you can head to this nice restaurant located in Hotel America.

El Balcón del Marisco

photo by Javier Aroche

El Balcón del Marisco is one of the best restaurants in San Jose, both when it comes to service and to food. If you crave some fresh seafood cooked in Costa Rican fashion, this casual restaurant will not disappoint you. You can find simple traditional fare like ceviche, as well as fancier ‘mariscadas’, or seafood plates.

Tin Jo

Those who prefer Asian cuisines will be delighted with Tin Jo, a Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino and Indian restaurant located in a converted historical mansion. The interior is stylishly decorated and the atmosphere is an interesting combination of Costa Rican and Asian influences. The menu features vegetarian and gluten-free options too.

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