La Criollita is a classic Costa Rican restaurant in the capital city of San José. The eatery has captured a timeless feel within its two big dining rooms, open kitchen and cozy outdoor patio, which is home to a family of birds that flit about the bird houses and branches built into the walls.
Save room for a piece of La Criollita's cheesecake — Photo courtesy of Eldriva
The main room offers a view into the long kitchen, where chefs in white hats whip up traditional Costa Rican favorites from morning till night. A tiny bar in the central dining room serves real cocktails, should you care to imbibe, but the focus here is the food.
Delicious ceviche is an excellent starter (Some may call it a meal.), and the casados are designed to satisfy both hungry husbands at lunch and gringos ("foreigners") famished from a long flight. Breakfast specials are a real bargain and come with coffee brewed to perfection. This is a fine place to try gallo pinto with eggs and tropical fruit.
A dessert case holds cheesecakes, flan and Costa Rican pastries, all boasting prices leftover from a bygone era. Yes, do go to La Criollita, before it's too late.
La Criollita is family-friendly, but also fine for a date or solo travelers. Rub shoulders with locals at lunch time, when La Criollita is most busy.
Find La Criollita in the historic neighborhood of Barrio Amon, half a block from the Museo de Jade ("Jade Museum"). The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.