The Costa Rica Restaurant Review

Tiquicia - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 01 June, 2009 12:32

I consider Tiquicia to be a must-visit restaurant for someone who is visiting Costa Rica, and wants to get a flavor of the real local culinary culture.  The specialty at Tiquicia is typical Costa Rican food.

The restaurant is located WAY UP in San Antonio de Escazú.  I have emphasized WAY UP, because it is pretty much at the top.  If you have a junker of a car, it is probably best not to venture the trip, and the same goes for hitching a ride with an older taxi.  Make sure that your vehicle has some power.

I visited Tiquicia at night.  The restaurant and bar is somewhat rustic, adding to the traditional Costa Rican feel of the place, and it is fairly sizable.  The grounds outside are well kept and there is some room to walk around, including a kids swing set.  Over the period of time that we were dining there, a lot of people arrived and were seated.  By the time we left, the parking lot was pretty much full.  However due to the place's size, at no time did we ever feel crowded.

The view of the city from the restaurant is nothing short of spectacular.  I have been to the White House, Hotel Pico Blanco, and the Monastery, and I can say with every conviction that the view from Tiquicia is by far the best that I have seen thus far. At night, with the whole city glowing below, it was breathtaking.

The service was, well, laid back.  I don't want to say it was slow per se, but it certainly wasn't super attentive either.  The waiters were polite and friendly, and in fairness, they had a lot of ground to cover.  And with the beautiful view, it was certainly less than painful to relax and enjoy any necessary wait for food, drinks, etc. 

I ordered a pork "casado".  A casado is a very common Costa Rican dish that you will find offered in almost every soda (small cafeteria) in the entire country.  It usually consists of a meat (fish, chicken, pork, or beef) rice, beans, salad, and perhaps some fried platano.  One of my companions had a fish casado, and my other companion ordered pork "a la plancha".  The three of us shared an appetizer of some fried yucca fritters.  I had a cold Bavaria dark beer, and one of my companions ordered a Sprite. The casados were probably around twice the size of those that you would find offered in most places, and were also noticably better prepared.  Granted, they were still casados -- they were not magically transformed into escargot in garlic butter.  But as far as typical Costa Rican food goes, Tiquicia is probably pretty much the top of the line.   There were other typical Costa Rican dishes on the menu, including olla de carne (a typical type of beef stew), gallo pinto (Costa Rican style beans and rice), and pozol (whole corn typically cooked in pork fat), so you can take your pick of local foods, according to your preference.

The price for the three of us was around $50.  Yes, that is a LOT more than one would pay at a soda, and is costly for typical food.  Still, in a place like this one expects to pay a little extra just for the view.  Further, the quantity and preparation were superior to most restaurants I have been to that offer typical food, so I considered the price to be fair.  Hotel Pico Blanco, for example, which is reviewed elsewhere in this blog, offers typical food of far lesser quality, and I am sure would be more expensive for a similar amount of food (and an inferior view, though it was still very nice as far as the view was concerned).

Tiquicia features some interesting traditional events including live Costa Rican dancing, as well as live music on the weekends.  Unfortunately our timing was such that we had finished our meal and were leaving about 15 minutes before the live music started.  As such I can't comment much on the quality of the entertainment that they offer.  Judging by the quality of everything else, it would probably be worth going to see.

Try out Tiquicia for yourself and tell us about your experiences in the comments section of this blog.

M.C.

Note: Tiquicia is located in San Antonio de Escazú.  There is a sign pointing the way to the restaurant -- you need to turn off to the right (and continue up the mountain) after you have gone up to San Antonio, but before you have veered to the left to enter San Antonio Centro.  For reservations call 2289-5839 or 8828-1280.  The restaurant is closed on Mondays, is open from 5pm to Midnight on Tuesday through Friday, from 1pm to Midnight on Saturdays, and from Noon to 6pm on Sundays.

Outback Steakhouse - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 13 May, 2009 16:54

Outback Steakhouse is a well-known international chain focusing on American Cuisine (despite its Australian theme).

I went to Outback with a party of eight people, on a Friday afternoon. We were seated immediately, and there was a steady stream of customers entering and exiting throughout the period of time that we were there. The waiter that attended us was polite and very attentive to our demands to bring additonal food and beverages.

Along with our drinks (I had my usual Bavaria dark beer) we had a veritable spread of appetizers including ribs, chicken wings, pumpernickel bread (which was a welcome change from the usual bread that is served in most restaurants in Costa Rica), and Outback's famous Bloomin' Onion, which is a large onion that is breaded and deep fried, and cut as though it is a flower in bloom. All of the appetizers were very good, the onion being especially tasty.

For my main course I had steak and shrimp fajitas, which were served on a sizzling hot metal plate. There were tortillas, tomato salsa, avocado, and sour cream on the side. I would call them typical run-of-the-mill fajitas, but lets face it, fajitas at most restaurants often leave something to be desired either in terms of quantity or presentation. Not so here. I was thoroughly satisfied and received the amount of food that I expected, with a pleasant presentation, and all the desirable extras with which to stuff the tortillas. I asked for the steak part of the fajitas to be rare, and rare it was. Outback gets extra points for following instructions. I can't say how many times I have asked for my meat to be "almost still breathing" and end up getting it back almost well-done.

The other diners that were with me all had steaks, ribs, and other similar dishes -- all appearing well prepared and of healthy proportions. According to my recollection of the menu, all of the main dishes that we ordered were similar in price, running between $20 and $30 each. Of course that is before tax, and that did not include the drinks and the appetizers. I didn't get a close look at the prices of the appetizers, but they were not particularly inexpensive.

Once again the tab for this meal did not end up in my lap (because the meal was coincident with a hosted conference that I was participating in), and I am glad that it did not. My one criticism of Outback Steakhouse is that the prices are probably a little bit on the high side. The quality and quantity of food is definitely consistent, though. I have not been disappointed in anything I have eaten there thus far.

If you are unconcerned with the amount of money that you are going to spend (short of a real classy meal at an upscale restaurant), and are more concerned with getting food that will meet your expectations, Outback Steakhouse is a very reasonable choice.

M.C.

Note: In Costa Rica, Outback Steakhouse is located in Plaza Itskatzu, which is on the opposite side of the autopista from Multiplaza and the Cima Hospital in Escazú.

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