Where does one go for a good breakfast in Escazú? In an attempt to answer this important question, accomplices and I prowled the western San José suburb on the hunt for hearty morning meals. We found a wide variety of options, several of which are outlined here.
A Sunday morning visit to Chez Christophe (2228-2512), across from La Paco commercial center on the west side, proved to be a noisy, crowded affair. I’m told that during the week the restaurant is less crowded and is a popular breakfast haunt with many devotees. This trendy French bakery has both indoor and outdoor seating and offers a large selection of good French breads and pastries. If you don’t fancy a full breakfast, you can order a pastry with a fruit plate and Café Britt coffee (which our party found on the weak side).
The two-egg omelet’s basic price, which includes tax but not service, is ₡1,630 ($3.30), plus your choice of fillings, such as ham, cheese, mushrooms or spinach, for ₡710 ($1.40) each. The omelet was fluffy, perfectly cooked inside and served with a small tomato and onion salad and French bread. However, the waffle with fresh fruit and syrup (₡3,150/$6.30) was a disappointment the day we visited, with a soggy, undercooked bottom.
Chez Christophe is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Across the street from Chez Christophe, inside La Paco, is Il Panino (2228-3126, www.ilpanino.net), a popular eatery for night birds and for early birds, as it opens for breakfast at 8 a.m. (9 a.m. on Sundays). The restaurant offers omelets and eggs Benedict with ham or salmon (₡4,200-4,600/$8.40-9.20 including tax), as well as a panino with egg and melted Emmental cheese ₡3,600 ($7.20). For a different wake-up call, you can order a Bloody Mary or mimosa to go with your breakfast.
Reports about Il Panino’s breakfasts are mixed. I sampled only the very good warm croissant and the exceptionally delicious Tarrazú coffee, which is freshly ground on the premises and served with a coffee bean dipped in dark chocolate.
Hours are 8 a.m. to midnight Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to midnight Sundays.
The Waffle Place (2201-5444) in the Boulevard commercial center, 300 meters south of the Multiplaza roundabout, has a pleasant coffee-shop ambience with indoor and outdoor seating. Patrons can take in a huge, colorful mural of the Grande-Place in Brussels, with its wonderful Gothic architecture, as they ponder the book-like menu.
There are waffles galore here: Belgian, traditional North American and gluten-free, all offered with a vast variety of sweet and savory toppings. However, the ones we tried – the “Zoom,” topped with a mixture of cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, rosemary and mozzarella, and the “Club,” three triangular, sandwich-style North American waffles filled with ham, bacon, cheese, egg, tomato and lettuce – were heavy and bland.
The menu also features pancakes, crepes, omelets and breakfast specials. Prices range from ₡2,500 to ₡5,000 ($5 to $10). Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Café de Artistas (2288-5082, www.cafe-de-artistas.com), on a quiet side street off the busy main thoroughfare of San Rafael de Escazú, is a delightful place to have breakfast or Sunday brunch. It’s an old favorite among local residents, who enjoy sipping their coffee and reading the morning paper on the cool, quiet front porch. The menu includes corned beef hash topped with two eggs, a variety of omelets served with tasty home fries, eggs Benedict, waffles, fluffy pancakes, French toast, fresh fruit, yogurt and granola. Breakfast is served all day. Prices range from ₡3,500 to ₡5,000 ($7 to $10). Café de Artistas is 100 meters south of Plaza Rolex and is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.
La Cocina de Robin, or Robin’s Kitchen (2228-3407, www.lacocinaderobin.com), is an appropriate name for this small, charming, friendly restaurant and bakery in Escazú Centro owned by U.S. expat Robin Emigh. The front porch with its blue cane furniture, multicolored fabrics and scatter cushions offers a casual seating arrangement, an alternative to the indoor area with its homey atmosphere and interesting artwork. Take a peek at the notice board overflowing with information about local services and happenings.
The menu offers a variety of breakfast combos, including typical American and Tico breakfasts, as well as pancakes, French toast and a very good quiche. Prices range from ₡2,990 to ₡5,600 ($6 to $11.20) and include bottomless mugs of delicious coffee made with Hacienda Real beans. Emigh is known for her delicious baked goods and cakes, and her kitchen is very popular for lunch or afternoon tea with a piece of her excellent pie, a lemon square or a calorie-laden chocolate brownie.
Robin’s Kitchen is 250 meters west of the Escazú Central Park. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and Fridays, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.
Skipping the obvious North American chains that serve breakfast, I visited some of the local ones and found an infinite variety of breakfasts at reasonable prices. Bagelmen’s (www.bagelmenscr.com), founded by Brit Malcolm Matheson in 2000, has six locations around town and serves a wide variety of coffees, muffins and delicious bagels with yummy cream cheeses and fillings. The assorted breakfast combos (₡2,950/$6) are a good deal and come highly recommended. Express delivery is available.
Bagelmen’s has two locations in Escazú, one in San Rafael’s Plaza Rolex (2289-4616) and one in Plaza Florencia, 200 meters north of La Paco on the road to Guachipelín (2228-3210). Hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The Spoon chain has 22 locations in the San José greater metropolitan area. The Escazú restaurant in Plaza Los Laureles (2228-2300, www.spooncr.com), on the old road to Santa Ana, has indoor and outdoor seating and opens daily at 7 a.m. It offers eggs galore with your choice of ham, cheese or bacon served in a croissant, a wrap or a panino, plus French toast, excellent omelets and, of course, gallo pinto, the typical Costa Rican rice-and-beans breakfast dish. Prices range from ₡1,500 to ₡3,700 ($3 to $7.40).
Te con Té’s Escazú location in Plaza del Río (2288-5028, www.cafeteconte.com), 100 meters east of the Costa Rica Country Club intersection, has been highly praised and offers an interesting, varied breakfast menu, particularly for those looking for a hearty start to the day with steak and eggs or a croque-madame sandwich. Prices are higher than at the other above mentioned chains, ranging from ₡3,955 to ₡9,888 ($8 to $20). The restaurant offers a kids’ breakfast for ₡2,825 ($5.70). Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Know of a great breakfast spot? Post a comment below.