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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Where to eat an authentic Thanksgiving meal in Costa Rica

While Costa Rica doesn’t officially recognize the Thanksgiving holiday, thousands of Ticos every year still partake in the U.S. tradition by gathering with friends and family to indulge on classics like turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Whether you’re looking to eat a full course meal in a restaurant or make a feast at home, this guide covers what you need to know for the big day.

Restaurants offering Thanksgiving meals in the Central Valley

Sportsmens Lodge in San José

Located in the downtown neighborhood of Otoya, Sportsmens Lodge is offering its 16th annual all-you-can-eat turkey and football dinner with fresh-baked turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, U.S.-style stuffing, buttery cooked mixed vegetables, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and a glass of wine.

The lodge will also show the three NFL games taking place during the day on its televisions throughout the restaurant.

The meal costs $30, though it’s only $15 for women, kids under 12 and seniors aged 65 or older. Meals start at 2 p.m. While reservations aren’t required, Sportsmens Lodge recommends guests come early as it is preparing to serve more than 200 plates throughout the day.

Denny’s Costa Rica (multiple locations)

Spanning three locations throughout the Central Valley, the U.S. diner chain Denny’s is offering Thanksgiving meals throughout the week. Options include a turkey dressing dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberries as well as a holiday turkey sandwich melt, a cheesy broccoli side dish and pumpkin or pecan pies. Prices vary per menu item.

Denny’s restaurants, which are open 24 hours, can be found near the Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela, just north of La Sabana Park in Montserrat or just outside the eastern part of the city in Curridabat.

Tap House Costa Rica in Santa Ana

At Tap House, patrons can expect to enjoy a Thanksgiving special that includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans and apple pie. Meals, which cost $17, will start being served at 11:30 a.m. until supplies last. Tap House is also allowing customers to order the meal for delivery at home via Uber Eats. Reservations are not required.

Restaurants offering Thanksgiving meals along the Pacific coast

Gabriella’s Steak Seafood and Pasta at Marina Pez Vela in Quepos

Located along the Pacific Coast, Gabriella’s Steak Seafood and Pasta is touting endless oven-roasted turkey refills alongside walnut and mushroom stuffing, gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, garden vegetables and cranberry sauce.

The price is $32.75 for adults and $16.50 for children, though kids six and under eat for free. Reservations are not required but strongly recommended, and meals begin at 3 p.m.

Runaway Grill Restaurant and Fish Bar at Marina Pez Vela in Quepos

Offering baked turkey, stuffing, gravy, steamed broccoli, roasted garlic potatoes and apple pie, Runaway Grill Restaurant and Fish Bar is claiming to offer a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to all who feast there. Reservations are not required.

Costa Rica Sailing Center at Playa Potrero in Guanacaste

Claiming to offer the only Thanksgiving dinner in town with beachside s’mores, the Costa Rica Sailing Center will have a Thanksgiving buffet starting at 5:30 p.m. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and other Thanksgiving classics will be included in addition to a glass of sangria.

Adults will be charged $32 per person and children cost $12 each, with kids under five eating for free. Reservations are required.

Making a Thanksgiving feast at home

The appeal of a restaurant preparing, serving and cleaning up a big meal like Thanksgiving certainly sounds great, but pulling off a big feast of your own is also immensely rewarding. For those who wish to accomplish such a feat, Costa Rican supermarkets are stocked with many Thanksgiving staples.

At Walmart, shoppers can find an entire section of Thanksgiving goods for sale like canned cranberries, corn and green beans. A variety of instant mashed potatoes are also available by the box.

Thanksgiving in Costa Rica
Nate Doughty / The Tico Times

The ingredients for making stuffing can easily be made with the goods found in almost all Costa Rican grocery stores when following this recipe.

Unfortunately, the flagship Thanksgiving dish of turkey isn’t as common to find in Costa Rica. For the few stores that do carry it (we’ve had luck at AutoMercado and PriceSmart), the bird can range in price anywhere from $30 to $60. At that price, it might be best to dine out if having turkey is a requirement for your Thanksgiving meal.

At the end of the day, Thanksgiving is about being thankful and enjoying an abundance of food with family and friends. Whether it is by going to a restaurant or by feasting in your own home, The Tico Times wishes a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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