Even in the rain, San José has its charm

To write about Saint Joseph is to dedicate the first paragraph to defend him and the last to ask for forgiveness. I have wanted to start this blog for a long time: Saint Joseph by day and by nightdedicated to celebrating the attractiveness of the capital of Costa Rica, this modest and humid city, haphazard and, at the same time, so small that it seems not surprising. But I am a San José native, despite everything, and here we are: I like San José and this space will be to tell you what there is to do, eat, drink, see, listen to, dance… and everything else.

To begin with, I must confess that borders matter little. Walkers will know that on one side of the street it is Montes de Oca and on the other it is San José, and sometimes it is not known. So here some residents of the strictly defined capital are welcome, because they would be train stations when the train exists (they did not see it, but I wrote it with my fingers crossed).

Klika: specialty coffee, terrace for conversation

Speaking of which, I wrote this in a shelter, running away from the usual early afternoon rain. You know, and yet you “take a chance,” figuring that the storm clouds are far away. “It always rains in San José,” reads a beautiful design by Holalola. So I ended up at Klika, a café with a small terrace overlooking Avenida 8, in Los Yoses. In front, the pink flowers distract from the soaked gray of the sky; inside, the aroma of coffee draws attention away from the worn-out tennis shoes in a puddle two blocks away.

Klika, a specialty coffee shop in Los Yoses with cheerful furnishings, staff and atmosphere. Photo: by the author.

I like Klika because it is good, of course, and because of its friendly prices; also because it is in that ideal middle point to sit down and work quietly, away from the noise of the boulevard, but clearly in the middle of the city. Sometimes you only hear the music, hopefully from some vinyl (I spy the covers of Pretenders IIde The Pretenders y Cosmic Thingby The B-52’s). Open for a year and a half, Klika is ideal for teleworking, by the way, although the Nutella cruffin with ice cream called for a break. Don’t let anyone notice.

What we came for: Yes, the coffee is very good. I have tried the cold brew (it revived and refreshed everything) and a balanced, delicate espresso, like a breath of fresh air. The menu is concentrated, as it should be; the three-cheese and ham and cheese “melts” are delicious, in the right portions for a light lunch or a mid-afternoon treat. I’ll leave the bagels for next time. I’ll tell you about it.

You can read all about Klika here.

Klika sells specialty coffee for takeaway and for tasting in the store. Photo: klikacoffee.com

Gato Félix: beer and mouth, good music and better location

We know that La California is not for everyone. Hopefully the new municipal government will be decisive: this area must be assumed as what it is, with the consequent adaptations of street furniture, security, everything else. Now, yes, it is possible to find places with quality and good service in La Cali, not just chaos and the smell of vape.

One of them is Gato Félix, located in front of the Estación al Atlántico. I also went there on a rainy night and, now that these nights are back, it seems like a natural destination to have a drink while rush hour passes. First hook: beer with a mouthful. What else can I say? That hardly exists anymore, much less in a young bar. But here we are: beer with a mouthful of chickpeas, green beans, cubaces, lentojes, pozol… The problem is that they are rich, warm and with that slight homely air of cantinas, so one already thinks of the second.

Waiting for the rain to stop from the outside bar of Gato Félix. Photo: by the author.

Second attraction of Gato Félix: the music. On casual days, the music selection is variable, almost always good, and almost every week they hold events, with bands, DJs, vinyl, lots of options. If you avoid noise, then yes, it is a small place; but if you enjoy music and sitting at the outside bar watching cars and people go by, it is perfect. The gin and tonic is running out and the night is getting longer. The night goes on and the groups of party-goers increase… even though it doesn’t stop raining.

What to do in San Jose this week

In Saint Joseph by day and by night I will recommend events, places, curiosities and people from San José. This week, I start with three recommendations of what to do from July 5 to July 11, 2024.

European Film Festival at the Magaly Cinema (until July 14): A selection of outstanding European films from last year and 2024 at the Magaly Cinema, with screenings accompanied by forums and genres to choose from. In particular, I recommend Afireby Christian Petzold, and Kinds of Kindness, by Yorgos Lanthimos (with Emma Stone at the helm for the third time), two directors of the moment, but there is not a wide offer, as Four Daughters (nominated for an Oscar for best documentary) and some very lively comedies.

Bubbles. Temporary shelters at the MADC (opens July 11): Jorge Sazalar Arroyo inaugurates this project at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, in the National Cultural Center (formerly Fanal). It opens on July 11 and is free. I can say that whatever Salazar does will always be fun: he doesn’t forget that art and design are also for playing.

Art City Tour: Holidays in Chepe (July 11): Much of what we enjoy in San José we have learned about thanks to the Art City Tour, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary. It is an admirable project that offers us nightly openings of museums and cultural spaces, with special activities and a general atmosphere of joy for being here and now in the city. As you can see, there are many of us who love the capital. See how to participate on the Art City Tour website.

Coming soon in Saint Joseph by day and by night: reading nook recommendations, the best martini in the capital and a vibrant art space in the city centre. See you at Chepe!

Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MADC) in Pila de la Melaza. Photo: Rafael Pacheco. (Rafael Pacheco Granados)

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