Two New Restaurants in Atenas

For the last year or two I’ve worked hard a preparing good, healthy meals at home from making 8-servings of spaghetti with meat (eating 1 & freezing 7 for future meals) to multiple recipes of homemade vegetable soup to help me eat more veggies, last week a yummy Chick Peas Salad from a Washington Post Recipe and also last week a 7-layer dip (mostly veggies). And I do breakfast at home all but one morning a week with 3 or 4 fruits, nuts, whole grains in either bread, hot or cold cereal or French Toast, saving my omelets for some dinners! 🙂

But living solo, I still like to eat out and I’m now trying to find more restaurants that I like while some I liked closed during Covid. So I was a little surprised to see two new ones open in the last few weeks, one serving everything from pizza & burgers to steaks & seafood and the other one our first “genuine” Mexican Restaurant:

Iguanas Restaurant & Pizzeria

Located across from east side of the big central church between medical lab & CR Shipping 1/2 block from Central Park and a lot bigger than it looks here, going a half block back inside.

This Iguanas is purely Tico as a new small chain of restaurants in our part of Central Valley with others already in Grecia, Palmara and San Ramon. Their target seems to be Tico young adults who like a place to hangout, enjoy music and eat (don’t all young adults everywhere?). They have live music at night with a dance floor and play major ball games on the TVs scattered everywhere in this very large restaurant inside. Some of their decorations are historic photos of old Atenas and they have all young staff with burgers & pizzas prominently presented! Their main beer is Imperial, THE Costa Rica Beer! 🙂 They are trying to be a local hangout for the young of Atenas and just may succeed at that! Olivier Pizzeria is mostly high school kids and La Finca is dominated by old expats! 🙂 Its a social thing! 🙂

My first time to try them, I had their small portion of barbequed ribs that were good but too dry for me and I failed to ask for BBQ Sauce as I do in other restaurants. If I try that again I will definitely ask for the sauce! But I already have a favorite Parillada (BBQ Restaurant) elsewhere. Interesting sides with the ribs were a seeded Jalapeño with cooked banana slices (yummy & not too hot), cole slaw they called ensalada, and home potato fries. I had Carrot Cake for dessert and it was too dry also. When I paid I told them that both were too dry (demasiado secas). A very friendly and happy place. I will return at least one more time. 🙂 Think I’ll try their nachos next time which should be very good in a youthful place like this! 🙂

La Casona Michoacána

La Casona Michoacána is quite different and very small! It is authentic Mexican cooking from a region of central Mexico called Michoacána. Since their sign says since 2014, I assume they are referring to the one in Grecia and just added this little one in central Atenas, 1/2 block from Central Park (like the above restaurant but in a different direction). I think it is very good, though small and seemingly few patrons. For locals reading, they are located in the old Antonio’s restaurant but use only the bar area and front porch for seating, thus I’m thinking they don’t have a lot of patrons yet. But how can I know when I eat at 3 or 4 in the afternoon?! 🙂

They have only 3 tables and a little bar with one waitress and one cook. The tacos and chimichanga were as good or better than anywhere I’ve been! The quesadilla was delicious but had more chicken than cheese (it needed more cheese). It had delicious sauces, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. that don’t show in the photo below (all inside). And note that like the other restaurant above they serve home fries with many of their dishes. That’s definitely a Tico thing with the fries and I just didn’t know Mexicans did it too! 🙂

And what are my existing favorite restaurants?

That probably should be another post but for locals let me list where I have been eating both in the past and currently: I started here in 2015 eating a lot at La Carreta which closed before Covid and I’m not fond of the replacement there. Then I went some to Antonio’s which closed during Covid and back then also Soda Tío Mano and some of the sodas in the Central Market which I still do occasionally. Also from the beginning was El Balcón de Café which I still eat at some, though still the same I’m kind of tired of it except they still have the best Corvina or Seabass with a garlic white sauce! And their breakfast is great! A German lady operates it and there was another restaurant operated by a French lady with salads and sandwiches but it closed with Covid. And for years I was a regular at Donde Bocha which has very good burgers and Mexican food, but after getting sick on his food twice, I quit going there. In my first two years I had him cater two meals at my house that were excellent!

And my very favorite, only a couple of years ago was Poco Loco (“a little crazy”) with the very best soups, salads and sandwiches ever in Atenas, but they closed during Covid to my great sorrow! La Trilla has changed hands at least 3 times since I’ve been here and the latest version is okay food and in a handy location by La Coope or across from El Fogón. And I’ve tried several others further away from Central Atenas that are okay, but I prefer to stay within walking distance.

So today, if I ranked the ones in Central Atenas that I can walk to and eat at regularly they would be:

  • Park Place (across from Central Park by Banco Nacional) Now the best soups, salads, sandwiches and my new favorite steak! 🙂 I eat there every Wednesday now.
  • El Fogón de Campesino (across from La Coope Gasolinera) Mostly traditional Tico food. I eat breakfast there every Sunday morning, my only breakfast out now and they have some really great breakfast choices!
  • Parillada Androvetto is a true grill and has for a long time been my #1 & #2 favorite restaurant and where I eat every Friday night, with a ribeye steak my favorite but I like everything else as well and now may prefer their “hamburger steak” or they call “Hamburger Without Bread” served on top of thin slices of zucchini with other veggies and a salad. They are also my favorite pizza place with a wood-fired oven.
  • I’ve eaten at the new Mexican restaurant 3 times now, so La Casona Michoacána may make the list! 🙂 And they might become my Monday or Tuesday place.
  • I still go to El Balcón del Café some, just not as regularly and my favorite bakery, Crema y Nata, for pecan pie, other pastries and/or breakfast & lunch sandwiches is still a favorite, just not on schedule. And I will probably give Donde Bocha Antojeria another chance! 🙂 They are across the street from the ICE office and behind Miranda Brothers Hardware.

¡Pura Vida!

18 Replies to “Two New Restaurants in Atenas”

  1. Charlie – you’re missing out if you haven’t tried the new, Monsoon Restaurant, on Hwy 3 just past Don Yayo’s. Indian, Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian, plus pizza which many have given high ratings. Suggest you give it a try.

  2. Charlie- love reading your every
    day life story as you live single,
    like to dine and make it seem
    so interesting. I wish we had
    known each other in high
    school and am thankful for
    our web page which
    commects us all!!!

    1. Carol Ann, Thanks for all your kind words and I too would like to have known more people in our large graduating class. After I graduated and went to university my parents moved back to AR and so I have had no contact with any from Will Rogers High since. I went to the 30th Reunion and felt a little lost.

      But I do enjoy my retirement a lot more now after I moved from TN to Costa Rica! And my blog is about that joy! 🙂 There were even joys during my recent cancer treatments! 🙂

  3. Now you have made me hungry and I can’t go to any of the places you told me about!!! (:

    I’m impressed with your cooking! Way to go!

  4. Hey, Charlie!! I cook a recipe my adoptive Lakota niece shared with me called Lakota Stew. The recipe: Take whatever meat you got, stir-fry in olive oil, or bake it in the oven. Put it in a crockpot. Throw in whatever veggies you got and cook until you think it’s right.
    The last time I prepared it, it yielded a meal and seven others for the freezer. It was delicious. Several servings are in the freezer.
    I don’t eat pasta normally.
    For breakfast, I mix 1/4 cup of oats with maple syrup, dates, 3/4 cups of vanilla almond milk, stir and nuke for two minutes. Stir and nuke for one more minute.

  5. I enjoyed reading about the cooking you do and the restaurants you visit! When you are just cooking for one or two it really does help to freeze portions. The restaurants sound very good and it is fun to see examples of what they serve. I’m glad you have a good variety to visit. I’m so happy to hear that you have a great bakery too. I do think you and I have pecan pie in our blood from our Arkansas holidays! Your nephew, Chris, and his son, Gavin have both inherited that love of pecan pie as well!

    1. Thanks Bonnie! And yes, cooking for just one is a challenge sometimes, but I manage and learning new things from time to time. And that 7-layer dip is an old favorite that makes 3 or 4 meals for me! 🙂 And tomorrow afternoon I’m trying another new restaurant that I will report on. It seems that people are really interested in these daily life things! 🙂 We do have to eat! 🙂

      And glad to know that other family members like pecan pie too! 🙂

  6. Dog Gone It, Doggett! You’ve made me hungry!

    Fortunately, I satisfied my appetite with a Little Miss Debbie raisin cake.

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