San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A Taste of Christmas from Around the World

PERHAPS you’d like to switch fromtraditional turkey or tamales to the tastesof Asia, the Caribbean or Europe thisyear. If so, go ahead and reserve yourseats at one of the following restaurants.You won’t have a night in a gondolaunder a full moon, but you can visit IlPanino and offer your loved ones a specialtreat in an authentic Italian Café.According to Mariana Apestegui, publicrelations manager, people will find paninos(Italian sandwiches), antipasto, salads,homemade desserts, natural juices,liquors and fine wines.“We pay special attention to the art ofpreparing and serving excellent coffee.The quality and the aroma of the coffeeare assured with the roasting of the beansin our own establishment. We also serveILLY, Italian fine coffee, considered bymany in Europe to be the best espressomix in the world,” says Apestegui.IN December, Il Panino will haveCoffee Afternoons, 3-6 p.m., in whichvisitors will receive a second cup of complimentarycoffee. Also, the café willoffer Chivas Regal with live music andtwo-for-one whiskies on Wednesdays inEscazú and on Thursdays in Curridabat.Visitors can also buy a bag of roastedcoffee. The restaurant is in the PacoShopping Center, Escazú (228-3126) andhas a new branch in Plaza Fresas,Curridabat (524-0335), open 8 a.m.-midnight,Sun.-Wed., to 2 a.m., Thurs.-SatIf you feel like trying Caribbean dishes,then visit La Guagua Restaurant,where you’ll find an authentic CubanChristmas Dinner. “In La Gua Gua, peoplecan celebrate a Cuban Christmas withtypical island flavor,” says Magda Bruna,restaurant owner. The traditional CubanChristmas dinner includes: roast leg ofpork, congri (Cuban-style rice and beans)and yuca con mojo (yuca garnished withgarlic, olive oil, orange and lemon). OnFridays, the tunes of Chocolate Band addto the Cuban flavor. The restaurant is inPlaza Itzkazú, Escazú, 288-5112, 288-5114.ANYONE who wants a huge varietyof dishes for Christmas Eve, shouldreserve in Hotel Real Intercontinental.Guests will enjoy a welcome cocktail, abuffet dinner of cold and warm dishes anddesserts at the Real Saloons. People candance to the tunes of Fachas Band. Also,guests will receive masks and noisemakersfor the New Year’s Eve carnival.Everything for $85 per person. RestaurantMirage is a good option in the hotel forpeople in search of a relaxing evening butstill with the chance to dance to the musicperformed by a surprise quartet, for $100per person. The hotel is next toMultiplaza in Escazú, 289-7000.HOTEL Marriott has planned amultinational menu so guests can chooseto celebrate the holidays all week long.Christmas Eve Dinner Buffet is 6-11 p.m.,for $29; on Dec. 25-26 the hotel willserve a Christmas Brunch, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.for $27; on Dec. 27 and 28, CentralAmerican Buffet Dinner, 6 p.m.-11 p.m.The next day the chef will serve aCaribbean Sea Food Festival DinnerBuffet and the food festival will finishwith a Costa Rican Buffet Dinner. TheHotel Marriott is in San Antonio deBelén. Reservations at 298-0168.If your heart is set on a traditionalmeal, visit Wall Street, which offersstuffed turkeys, salads and a complete lineappetizers, cakes and gift baskets forChristmas and New Year’s Eve. You canalso call its owner, caterer Suzanna Hane,if you’re holding a party at home andwant to avoid the cooking. The restaurantis in San Rafael de Escazú ShoppingCenter, 289-6493, 289-6654.Oporto Restaurant in Heredia,behind the Hipermás, offers cakes, breadsand dinner for delivery through Dec. 23,order at 263-2059.FOR dinner further a field, you cango to Hotel Rancho Río Perlas, in OrosiValley, which offers an internationalmenu, and waiter in chief Danilo Sandoval saysthe restaurant will also have an abundanceof its specialty: trout. Guests can enjoydinner, live music and a New Year’s Eveparty for $40. Reservations at 533-3341.Hotel El Cafetal Inn in Atenas, westof Alajuela, will serve a buffet dinnerwith chicken, fish and wine on Dec. 24and 25. Reservations at 446-5785.Merry Christmas, Happy New Yearand buen provecho!

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