Costa Rica's Best Bars Range from Trendy to Traditional

Costa Rica's best bars are inviting respites in which to sip on ice cold beverages and soak up some of the pura vida culture. A walking tour of the capital city of San Jose yields tiny dive bars every other block, but the classic bar Chelles stays open all night for drinking and eating. On the other side of the valley in Escazu the modern wine bar at Tintos y Blancos draws an upscale crowd to its patio for people watching, tapas, and a wine selection unheard of elsewhere in the country. Costa Rica's Craft Brewing Company, the country's first micro-brewery, offers free flights of seven beer samples on its weekly tour, a stop that could substitute for a bar en route to or from Cartago, Costa Rica's original capital. Watch the sun set over the Caribbean coast at the Lazy Mon at Stanfords, and stay for happy hour cocktails, love music, and ping pong. Costa Rican legend has it that if you find yourself lost on the road after a night of drinking, be on the lookout for El Cadejo, a big shaggy black dog with red eyes that is said to be a good omen, follow him home and his spirit, who is also said to be devilish, will protect you from harm.

Jazz Café San Pedro

Once the only place to check out consistently high-quality live music, especially jazz, in San Jose, The Jazz Cafe remains the best venue to see, hear, drink and eat under one roof. It is located in the San Pedro neighborhood, has a restaurant...  Read More

The Lazy Mon at Stanford's
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica

If you've made it to Puerto Viejo, you must visit The Lazy Mon at Stanford's, day or night, before you leave town, and in which case, you may decide to extend your stay. The Lazy Mon is a casual beachfront- as in you can go for a dip in between...  Read More

The first of its kind in Puerto Viejo de Limon, KOKI Beach is a truly eco-friendly establishment; a bar, restaurant and lounge made almost entirely from reclaimed materials that takes relaxing and dining and turns them into art forms. With a...  Read More

El Pueblo is one of those quintessential Costa Rican tourist destinations that fits many attractions under one red adobe roof; there are restuarants, shops, and dance clubs within this Spanish Colonial style complex, and any time of day or night...  Read More

El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte

What was once a modest establishment for artsy types has become one of San Jose's trendiest spots for all walks of life, especially the young and hip set, who flock to El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte for the scene, the bar, and the live music,...  Read More

One of Puerto Viejo's most popular spots to party after dark, Cafe Mango, formerly called the Sunset Bar, has maintained its old-school vibe and infused new life into this open-to-the- ocean-front beach shack. Inexpensive drink specials such as...  Read More

In an old refurebished factory an hour outside the city of San Jose, a couple of beer afficionados are going against the grain, crafting artisinal beer using only whole grains, hops, yeast, and water. The concept is novel in a country that loves...  Read More

Just when Puerto Viejo was in need of a little more night music, Bar Maritza has stepped up to the plate with a remodeled interior and a shiny new facade, bringing life after dark to the otherwise quiet stretch of beachfront it occupies. Maritza...  Read More

This is the second- but no less popular- location of the Jazz Cafe, the first is across town in San Pedro, San Jose. The newer Jazz Cafe was opened in 2009 and carries on the tradition of presenting high quality shows, consistent restaurant...  Read More

New to the scene in Escazú is Tintos y Blancos, a wine bar that serves excellent food in an inviting atmosphere and even offers live music on certain nights. Perfect for a pre-dinner date or even the main attraction, Tintos y Blancos has an...  Read More


Meet Sophia LaMonica

On Sophia's first trip to Costa Rica, she came face to face with white-faced monkeys, gasped at the sight of giant purple crabs, and rode horseback through plunging waterfalls. Costa Rica...  More About Sophia
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