EntranceHello there… Sorry I’ve been away for a while. Two things kept me away from writing for a couple of weeks: Costa Rica playing like never before at Brazil’s World Cup and then the summer came by: that means my girls out of school, no routine and no real time to get inspired. But now I’m excited to share new posts with you.

Let me start with al mercat, a new restaurant in Barrio Escalante which opened in January 2014.  Here, modern Costarican cuisine is prepared with the freshest ingredients found in the market each day.

As you enter Al Mercat, a wall of curiosities welcomes you and a little opening to the kitchen gives you a hint of whats coming next… its all unusually interesting. A few steps up is the main dinning area, which has a real good vibe with its wall garden and wooden floors.

A hint of whats going on at the kitchen.

A hint of what’s going on at the kitchen.


A wall of curiosities and with some artesanal food for sale.

The “men in a black suit” greats you at the door and takes care of you the entire night. No waiters around, at least this time, just one men for the 25 people dinning that Saturday night, and he does pretty well.

José Pablo Gonzales, 31, is the chef/owner in charge of your 6-Dish Prix Fixe Dinner. Born and raised in Costa Rica, Gonzales graduated as a lawyer in 2005 and later on moved to Paris where he got his Diploma from The Cordon Blue. José worked, among others, at Michelin Star Restaurant Le Pres D’Eugenie in Paris. Now he wants to put together his knowledge by preparing authentic Costarican ingredients cooked in a very simple way, trying to maintain their flavour and nutritional qualities.

Out of the 6 dishes you only get to choose among two options for  the main dish, the rest is masterfully put together for your enjoyment. Flavors are simple and greatly combined, and yes, you end up wanting more. Portions are really small, except for the main dish, but again, you are getting 6 dishes.  The cost of dinner is 28.000 colones per person ($50 approx.) excluding beverages and taxes. The wine options are good; they serve them by the glass at a very reasonable price. Following are pictures of most dishes we tasted. I’m only missing 2 pictures: a Chayote Carpaccio with edible Nasturias and a Beet Salad with hearts of palm, green onions and curcuma sauce. All really good.


Wild Mushroom over black Quinoa

Wild Mushroom over black Quinoa

Corvina Reina with shredded green Chayote

Corvina Reina with shredded green Chayote








10 hour slow cooked pork ribs

10 hour slow cooked pork ribs


Goat cheese with Naranjilla and Plum reduction

Goat cheese with Naranjilla and Plum reduction

















I haven’t been for lunch yet, but I will very soon. Al Mercat offers great value lunch for the best quality you can get.

Al Mercat is a perfect option for those who admire the perfect combination of good flavors, amazing presentation and well rounded dinner experience cooked by a knowledgeable chef.

Don’t expect your meat and potatoes kind of place, just be ready for a much more original and special experience! Thumbs up for Jose Pablo!

My rating:

Food: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Ambience: 4/5

Decor: 3/5

Cost: $ ($10 pp) lunch, $$$$ ($60 pp) for dinner

AL Mercat
Hours: Tues- Fri: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm // Thurs.- Sat: 8:00 pm – 12:00am

From Iglesia Santa Teresita 200 meters north and 150 easts. Brick wall on your right.

Barrio Escalante.

Call for reservations.

Phone: 22 21 0783




Comments are closed.