As San Jose’s gastronomic culture grows, restaurants and cafés alike are finally catching up with the world’s favorite Sunday morning tradition - Brunch. These are our recommendations to experience the best brunch options in San José, Costa Rica.
Manos en la Masa - Creative
Get up early to beat the crowd at this local favorite hidden away near the railroad tracks in a renovated white and red house on a quiet street in Barrio Escalante.
Many times we have arrived at 10am or later and either had to wait or move on, only important if you are on a tight schedule.
When you finally do get a seat, be sure to check the specials board. Chef Adrianna, soft spoken in person speaks volumes with her tasty creations such as tostados with buffalo mozzarella, and fruit flambé with sourdough bread (made in house daily).
You could just as easily indulge your sweet tooth with an orange cinnamon roll and a bubbly mimosa (we may have been guilty of this a time or two ourselves.).
Barrio Escalante; Calle 25 entre Av 1 y 3
Tues - Fri 8AM - 7PM; Sat 9AM - 5PM; Sun 9AM - 3PM
More Info: 4035 6230; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Kalu - Scene
More than just a brunch spot, Kalu is a bonafied meeting place for the hip Tico crowd. Couples, families and groups of friends share the beautiful green courtyard in this repurposed house (the chef's husband is an architect) in Barrio Escalante with the few foreigners who are lucky enough to be in the know.
Young families keep an eye on the little ones running around in the dedicated kids' play area while they enjoy Eggs Benedict and fresh coffees. This is Kalu's second home and just as before they make wonderful use of outside space with a bamboo terraced roof and white globe lights.
Beyond a very cool garden terrace, Kalu also hosts a shop selling designer Costa Rican made goods, and a luxury coffee bar where discerning coffee lovers can get their caffeine fix. This couple really was one of the first to successfully bring contemporary and national design to the public in a dining setting and now their prices reflect that.
Barrio Escalante - Calle 31 y Av 5
Open: Tues - Fri Noon - 10PM; Saturday 9AM - 10PM; Sunday 9AM- 4PM; Closed Monday
More Info: 2253 8426; http://kalu.co.cr/
Mantras - Vegan/Veggie/Value
Mantras is #1 on our list for best brunch in San José.
This already popular vegetarian/vegan restaurant (which covers all its bases serving organic, raw, lactose-gluten-free, and artisan food) posts special brunch offerings on its Facebook page every Saturday and Sunday.
Faithful fans will line up to eat in one of the green-enclosed restaurant's four seating areas. The front terrace for people watching; back terrace for nature lovers; main dining room for the see and be seen crowd and the back dining room for those who prefer privacy.
Rich smoothies and coffee creations pair with free range, locally sourced organic egg omelets, vegan breakfast burritos and heaps of vegan and gluten free sweets. This pet friendly, family friendly, vegan friendly spot is also reasonably priced for the area and considering portion sizes - a Sunday morning win for everyone!
Barrio Escalante - Calle 35 entre Av 13 y 11
Open: 9:00AM - 5PM Daily
2253 6715; email@example.com
Saul Bistro - Best Design
It doesn’t mater if you eat the food at Saul Bistro, because just being there is an experience in itself. The eccentric design has won awards (and second looks) since its opening in 2015. The new Escalante location is one of four Saul locations in San José - there are more than a dozen in Guatamala where it first opened- and if Saul has anything to say about it, more will be one the way. Each restaurant tries to outdo the last in its avant guard design.
In Escalante, a tropical painted car on the front lawn is easily overlooked thanks to the life-size zebra greeting you at the door. The fun doesn’t stop there. Four different indoor and two outdoor seating areas are each designed in their own unique style. The service is also stellar in a country where attention to details is often lacking. Foodies however might be a little let down with the menu creativity and portion size compared to price but design lovers will have their day!
Barrio Escalante - Avenida 9 y Calle 31
Open 7AM - 10PM daily; Thurs until 11PM; Fri & Sat until Midnight
More Info: 2234 7936; https://www.facebook.com/SaulBistroEscalante
Maza - Downtown
No brunch list would complete without Maza, one of the pioneers of brunch in San Jose. Maza is a well known and popular brunch spot - with Canadian mixologist, Liz Furlong, at the helm for those hangover curing bloody marys.
Just as popular as their yummy food are the adorable picnic baskets they’ll pack you to enjoy your goodies in the park across the street. Maza has truly cornered the market in changing the typical brunch experience into a kid & pet friendly experience.
Calle 19 y Av 3
Open: 9AM - 6PM Daily, closed Mondays
More Info: 2248 4824; https://www.facebook.com/pg/MazaBistro/
Brunching, a favorite activity amongst many expats and travelers has been difficult to accomplish in downtown San Jose.
Aside from the occasional breakfast buffets inside hotels, you'd come up with nothing more than the traditional gallo pinto available on morning menus.
Recently, however, two restaurants are taking the plunge to open on Saturdays for mostly brunch hours. And the good news you can leave full for a reasonable amount of money.
Jardín del Parque, situated on the northeast corner of Parque Nacional is now open from 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. on Satudrdays.
This is a fantastic vegetarian restaurant with a combination of breakfast and lunch menu options on Saturdays. Fruit parfaits, egg skillets and homemade pancakes with homemade jams will make for a nice first meal of the day. They do not have a liquor license however so you'll have to hold on the mimosas. Prices range from $5 - $10.
Restaurante Kalu, a restaurant and art gallery with a delightful eclectic menu is opening its doors 8 a.m. - 11:30 only for brunch, changing to a regular menu at noon, which kind of misses the point of leisurely brunch hours but at least it's a start for greater Saturday breakfast options.
Kalu has chosen to provide an extensive and creative menu with only breakfast dishes. One can choose from homemade chocolate bread pancakes to homemade bread topped with egg and toppings of your choice. We had the smoked salmon (another hard to find dish) which was well prepared but would have been wonderful with capers. Again, prices were reasonable between $5 and $10 for most plates.
The arrival of brunch to downtown San Jose rounds out a variety of options for urban fun. I would recommend the following agenda:
8:30a - 10a Organic Farmer's Market at Feria Verde
11a - 12p Free Yoga in Parque Espana
Brunch before or the farmer's market or after yoga, whatever works well for you!
Remember, if you like a new effort from a business be sure to support it. I guarantee these brunch options won't last long if clients don't stop by!
**This Saturday June 29 you can also participate in a bike ride with Chepe Cletas and showing of The Triplets of Belleville at the Historic Cine Magaly. The ride will start from the National Monument in Parque Nacional at 8:30.
We are very happy to announce an expansion of our services -- city tours in Spanish! Mariel is joining our team as a fluent English and Spanish speaking guide.
Native to Costa Rica, Mariel not only is able to provide city tours in Spanish, but also chat with our clients about life growing up in Costa Rica and wildlife. Get ready to hear some new stories!
Mariel graduated from the program of Biology and Sustainable Development at Universidad Latina, Costa Rica. She then pursued the field of Tropical Forest Conservation and management at the Higher Education and Research Center CATIE, where she became interested in the social aspects of natural resource management.
Her work experiences are broad and include tourism, experiential education, rural conservation programs, research and community-based workshops. She is also passionate about nature, Thai massage, teaching Spanish and reading!
Interested in taking a tour with Mariel? Reserve a San Jose walking tour!
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By Stacey Auch.