San Jose, Costa Rica: Ask the Concierge

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Located in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica, the four-star Hotel Presidente is close to restaurants, shops, offices and cultural sites. There are five categories of rooms, including junior suites measuring 1600 to 2100 square feet and grand spa suites of 2150 square feet. Concierge Johnatan Acuna offers suggestions to make the most of your visit to this Central American city.

What restaurant would you recommend for a lunch or dinner meeting?
It depends on the food and the atmosphere you’re looking for…
• Local food: La Casona Tipica
• Meat: La Esquina de Buenos Aires
• Italian: La Casa Italia, en Los Yoses
• Asian: Tin Jo
• International and cafe style: Cafe Mundo y Cafe Kalu

I will be in San Jose for 24 hours. What do you suggest I see?
I would recommend a city tour where you can see museums, theaters, the Cathedral, the Amon barrio (where the early coffee families settled) and the Central Market. You can take your own tour or contract a guide for a walking tour: www.chepecletas.com

Can you suggest one or two places to go shopping?
If you are looking for souvenirs I would recommend La Casona or the Mercado de las Artesanias (the Artisan’s Market) located in Plaza de la Democracia. A new artisan’s market is being built on Calle 5 with Avenida 4 and the artisans sell their products directly to customers. As for coffee, you can buy whole coffee beans or you can ask a shop assistant to ground up a blend using different beans, with different degrees of roasting. The Gold Museum sells jewelry that replicates pieces in their exhibits, based on figures designed by indigenous groups before the conquest.

What are some must-buys or food -taste on my shopping trip?
In the Central Market: coffee and a cloth filter to prepare your coffee in the traditional Costa Rican style, a sorbet in the Heladeria Lolo Mora (an original family recipe passed down five generations) or an “olla de carne” (a meat stew with vegetables).

What security measures do you recommend taking?
Our hotel has written up a security guide for its guests complete with drawings. We developed this awareness campaign because Costa Rica is a country renowned for its peace and democracy, and early on tourists didn’t think to exercise caution. We shouldn’t confuse peace and democracy with phenomena that are present around the world like poverty and petty crime. Costa Rica is not a country where you need to be alarmed, but you do have to be alert.

If I have many meetings in the city, what is the best way to get around?
The best way is to walk, as the distances are very short. Taxi fares will range between $2 and $8 in downtown.

What is the appropriate amount to tip a taxi driver or a chauffeur, or to leave in a restaurant?
Costa Ricans do not tip taxi drivers and in restaurants there is already an obligatory 10 percent tip included in the bill .

What authentic dishes and drinks do you recommend?
Typical Costa Rican dishes include:
Gallo pinto, casados and olla de carne.Costa Rican cooking has meso-American roots (corn, tortillas, corn pancakes) and then was infused with Spanish flavors after the conquest, when rice and farm animals were introduced. The national cuisine also was influenced by Afro-Caribbean populations that began to arrive in the 1870s to build a railway to the Atlantic.

 

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