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Where to eat an authentic Thanksgiving meal in Costa Rica

November 26, 2020

While Costa Rica doesn’t officially recognize the Thanksgiving holiday, thousands of Ticos every year still partake in the U.S. tradition — and take advantage of Black Friday deals.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed Thanksgiving plans for U.S. citizens across the world. Even so, millions will 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 17th 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 two NFL games taking place during the day on its televisions throughout the restaurant.

The meal price is TBD, though it’s half price for women, kids under 12 and seniors aged 65 or older. Reservations are required.

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, 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. Tap House is also allowing customers to order the meal for delivery at home via Rappi and Uber Eats.

Restaurants offering Thanksgiving meals along the Pacific coast

Lemon Zest in Jacó

Lemon Zest in Jacó, Puntarenas is offering a feast starting at 4 p.m. Guests can also order the traditional meal — plus pumpkin pie and berry cobbler as desserts — for take-out or delivery.

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.

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 offering a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to all who feast there.

Seasons Tamarindo

The fine-dining restaurant is ditching its Mediterranean cuisine for a day and going back to North American staples. Seasons has prepared a three-course meal, complemented by pumpkin spice martinis.

Adults will be charged $40 per person and children cost $18 each.

Longboards BBQ in Barco Quebrado

Between Samara and Nosara, you can enjoy smoked turkey, traditional stuffing and “grandma’s banana pudding” for $28. The meal starts at noon; eating a complete meal in paradise is bound to give you plenty of reasons to be thankful.

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
Thanksgiving staples can be found in grocery stores across the country. 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 loved ones — even if this year, the loved ones are on a Zoom call.

Whether you go to a restaurant or feast in your own home, The Tico Times wishes a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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