Eat Well in Escazú at Costa Rica's Newest and Finest Restaurants

With the introduction of the Avenida Escazú, this swank enclave a few miles from Costa Rica's capital city claims extra elegance. Tintos and Blancos draws a hip crowd of wine connoisseurs to its two-story location that features an enticing Mediterranean menu to match its enormous subterranean wine collection, and the Jazz Cafe Escazú serves up some excellent meals to accompany its evolving roster of world-renowned live music artists. Up on a hill with an exclusive panoramic view of the city, Le Monastère is housed in a historic monastery, and its French chef puts out the best escargot this side of the Seine, not to mention the rest of his expertly-crafted French creations- just make sure to dress appropriately and make reservations several days in advance. For a mellower vibe during the day, look to Serenitea Tea Lounge for relaxation and refreshment; 45 flavors of tea to choose from and an ambience that is as peaceful as it is tranquilo. New additions to the Escazú scene include Praha Lounge, decorated with eclectic furniture to admire during its happy hour, and Product C, which prides itself- and righteously so- on providing seafood so fresh that it's been caught no more than a few hours before being rushed to the restaurant, hitting your plate, and delighting your palette.


What first catches the eye about Praha Lounge and Cafe is the decor; it's a modern mash up of funky retro chairs, ornate chandaliers, and framed art everywhere, even on the ceiling. Yes, Praha aims to stimulate the senses from the first steps inside, and succeeds. After that, it continues to please the palette with a tempting menu full of tapa style dishes, perfect for nibbling on before dinner or sharing among friends. For lunch, Praha makes more-than-decent caprese and Ceasar salads, veggie lasagna medallions and salmon carpaccio that are also noteworthy, and of course there are cocktails to suit most every drinker.

Recommended for Escazú's Best Restaurants because: Funky and modern, Praha Lounge & Cafe is a welcome respite from the chi chi surroundings of Avenida Escazú

Sophia's expert tip: Happy Hour is Monday through Friday, 5 to 7 pm, drinks are 2 for 1.

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Serenitea is a delightful place to enjoy lunch or just a cup of finely brewed tea in the fine neighborhood of Escazú. Its peaceful atmosphere encourages relaxation and contemplation, so it makes a fine addition to an active day of sightseeing and dining out. Choose from 45 different flavors of tea, and nibble from a menu of bite size sandwiches, healthy wraps and savory salads, all designed to complement the exquisite tea-drinking experience. One of the highlights of Serenitea is the dessert selection, which includes macaroons as tasty as they are colorful. Serenitea is open 7:30 am to 7:30 pm

Recommended for Escazú's Best Restaurants because: A peaceful escape from the hubbub of nearby Avenida Escazú, take a break from shopping and tuck into a cup of tea here.

Sophia's expert tip: This is one of the few places to find true tea experts in a land of coffee.

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With such a dramatic name, one might expect something less than spectacular from Saga Restaurant, but one would be wrong- Saga consistently satisfies, with a strong menu starting with delicious sushi appetizers, ending with succulent pastries such as pecan canoli, and including top-notch entrees from an international menu like the Mediterranean Corvina. The decor is clean, fresh, and modern, and the service is impeccable- it's no wonder Saga Restaurant is a favorite go-to for Costa Ricans and tourists in the upscale neighborhood of Escazú. A lrage dining room can accommodate big groups and Saga is a favorite for special occasions.

Recommended for Escazú's Best Restaurants because: Consistently delicious fare and an inviting modern atmosphere make Saga a must visit in Escazú.

Sophia's expert tip: Consistently delicious fare and an inviting modern atmosphere make Saga a must visit in Escazú.

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Product C is part of a growing group of restaurants in Costa Rica that embodies the locally grown movement, serving fresh-caught seafood that spends very little time between the water, the chef's hands, and the table. What started as a beachside fish shop in surf town of Mal Pais has blossomed into two modern concept restaurants in the capital city of San Jose, serving locally and sustainably caught seafood including four kinds of ceviche and raw warm-water oysters. The chef works with the fishermen directly, then brings his creativity to each dish, and the results are fresh, flavorful, and perhaps even unforgettable.

Recommended for Escazú's Best Restaurants because: Fresh seafood straight from the sea in an upscale city venue makes Product C as asset to Escazú.

Sophia's expert tip: Try the lobster bisque with the chef's own "ocean bacon" - a mix of light and dark smoked fishes.

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The menu at La Luz is quite diverse, afterall it was one of the country's first fusion restaurants, and still impresses with an eclectic menu of diverse tastes; the expert chef pays close attention to detail and every plate is served like a work of art. Costa Rican regional cuisine, meets California-inspired fresh ingredients and a bevy of international influences that all make for a merry culinary adventure. The glass-walled dining room exudes a classic, elegant feel and offers exceptional views, especially at night. Sunday Brunch is a celebratory affair that draws crowds of locals and tourists to this spot in the Alta Hotel, and reservations are suggested.

Recommended for Escazú's Best Restaurants because: A chef-driven restaurant with an inspired fusion menu plus an exceptional view.

Sophia's expert tip: For a special occasion, book the private wine room, or opt for patio or poolside dining.

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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 quality and a relaxing atmosphere- in addition to a lively bar scene. Performances by well-known international artists has turned the Jazz Cafe into an active part of the international jazz circuit; past artists have included Mike Stern, Julien Lourau, Diego Urcola, Dennis Chambers, Frank Gambale, Steve Smith, and Scott Henderson, to name a few. You'll find tourists, expats, Costa Ricans, and an international crowd at the Jazz Cafe, so it's a nice place to socialize with musically like-minded folks in the city.

Recommended for Escazú's Best Restaurants because: While it's most popular for its live music, the excellent dinner served with it makes the Jazz Cafe an even better choice for date night.

Sophia's expert tip: Tickets are very reasonably priced and reservations can be made in advance on the website:

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For the well-heeled and epicurious, Le Monastère delivers and then some. Everything is prepared and served expertly, from escargot and French Onion Soup to chef specials like Venison Tenderloin Flambee in Port Wine and Seabass filet in Tarragon Cream Sauce. The menu is extensive and impressive and is enhanced by daily specials and always includes fresh local produce from some of Costa Rica's best farms and gardens; choose from a wine list 300 bottles long. Even the desserts are too decadent to deny; Oraange Soufflé Cointreau and Crème Brûlée are just the beginning. And as if the food weren't enough, the ambiance at Le Monastère is an unparalleled experience: take in a nearly 360 degree from above the city from a historic former monastery decorated in traditional European style down to marble statues, authentic antiques live classical music played on an opulent grand piano.

Recommended for Escazú's Best Restaurants because: Stellar French cuisine is served in a historic monastery with a 360 degree view of the city; a true European feel in Escazú.

Sophia's expert tip: Make a reservation in advance, and dress to the nines for this is one of the city's swankest spots.

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Samurai Sushi
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica

Samurai Sushi is perhaps the best sushi to be found in San Jose, if not all of Costa Rica, and they have excellent Teppan Yaki, too. After months of searching, it was a pleasure to stumble upon this place in Escaz�, not where it would not necessarily be expected. Served in true Japanese style, each dish is expertly prepared by a staff of well-qualified chefs who whip each roll and piece of tempura into an art form before presenting it to you. Hot and cold sake are available, and the menu is diverse enough to satisfy even the finickiest of sushi eaters.

Recommended for Escazú's Best Restaurants because: Belly up to the sushi bar for some seriously delicious sushi at this refreshingly unpretentious outpost in Escazú.

Sophia's expert tip: Save room for the special grilled ice cream dessert.

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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 admirably extenisive wine list, especially for Costa Rica, and a Mediterranean inspired menu to match. Choose from tapas style appetizers and cheese plates to full entrees, all prepared using fresh ingredients and designed with drinking wine in mind. Each glass comes with a little hang tag so you can keep track if you're trying different varietals, and the indoor and outdoor seating areas are ideal for settling in for a relaxing tasting session.

Recommended for Escazú's Best Restaurants because: Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere- Tintos y Blancos has it indoors and outdoors, upstairs and down.

Sophia's expert tip: Check out the underground complex of tunnels and boutique wine shop.

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La Comida Divina is a modern restaurant on Avenida Escazu that offers a unique dining experience, great service, delicious Peruvian food and an inviting atmosphere. Chef Marco Antonio Ganoza is passionate about the dishes he creates and his love of food can practically be tasted in each bite. The sleek modern decor complements plates that are rich in flavor and stimulating to the senses. Tapas and cocktails are a fine way to warm up to entrees for lunch and dinner. Bring the whole family or make it a date-night dinner, sit inside with air-conditioning or enjoy the chic street scenery on the cozy patio.

Recommended for Escazú's Best Restaurants because: Affordable gourmet lunch specials make for a glamorous guilt-free splurge.

Sophia's expert tip: Reservations are recommended at this Peruvian fusion hot spot.

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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