San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Turkey Time: Where to Get Your Thanksgiving Bird

It shouldn’t be difficult to find a turkey this year, even in Costa Rica’s more remote coastal areas.

Scott Singleton, sales manager for Butterball turkey exports – which owns Carolina Turkeys as well – said about 150,000 pounds of turkey have already been shipped to Costa Rica. That adds up to about 10,400 turkeys, most raised in the U.S. states of North Carolina and Arkansas.

Holiday season might be Christmas and New Year’s for Costa Ricans, but for U.S. citizens here, it starts Nov. 27 with Thanksgiving, a fact not lost on the major supermarkets. Imported turkeys can be found at Megasuper, Auto Mercado and Perimercados supermarkets; at the Wal-Mart-owned Más x Menos, Hipermás, Maxibodega and Palí stores; and at PriceSmart membership clubs.

Many of these stores also carry Pavilandia brand turkeys, which are imported as poults (chicks) from the United States and raised on a farm in Alajuela, northwest of San José. The other main competitor is As de Oros, the turkey division of Costa Rican chicken company Pipasa. As de Oros turkeys, which are reared in Costa Rica, come from the United States when they’re a day old (TT, Nov. 17, 2006).

Here’s our Thanksgiving dinner shopping advice around Costa Rica.

Central Valley

In the San José area, all the stores mentioned above are quite accessible and should carry both turkey and trimmings. Other options are Muñoz y Nanne supermarket in the eastern suburb of San Pedro, and Carnes Don Fernando, with three locations.

Muñoz y Nanne (2253-4646) has imported birds and also makes stuffing that can contain beef, pork, chicken, almonds, raisins and/or applesauce. A cooked and stuffed turkey costs about ¢5,400 (about $10) per kilo. Uncooked turkeys go for about ¢3,600 ($6.50) per kilo.

Carnes Don Fernando, known for its homegrown organic beef, is stocking national birds this year; call for prices and to reserve a frozen or precooked turkey: 2289-9165 in the western suburb of Escazú, 2282-0181 in Santa Ana, southwest of San José, or 2271-3334 in Curridabat, east of the capital. The stores are also selling ham legs.

PriceSmart, a $30-per-year membership club with four Central Valley outlets (Zapote, southeastern San José, 2283-9464; Escazú, 2288-0008; Llorente de Tibás, northern San José, 2297-2343; and Heredia, north of the capital, 2262-4848), will sell cranberry sauce, baking trays, pie fillings and other trimmings. An imported 15-pound turkey costs ¢19,995 ($36).

Auto Mercado (, a specialist in imported foods, has 12 stores nationwide. Besides turkey sold in various forms and packages, the chain will offer sweet potatoes, stuffing, canned yams and cranberries, pie fillings, ready-made pie crusts, turkey roasting bags and trays. A company representative said the stores in Plaza Mayor (Rohrmoser, western San José, 2232-5555), Santa Ana (2203-5335) and Multiplaza Escazú (2201-6174) will have a turkey-cooking show on Nov. 22 and 23, where customers can try samples of cooked Thanksgiving turkey and buy various sauces and turkeys. Butterball turkeys go for about ¢3,855 (about $7) per kilo, while smoked Carolina Turkeys are slightly more expensive.

Many stores in the Wal-Mart line said they’d have turkey by about mid-November. Maxibodega (, for example, said it would have Carolina Turkeys for about ¢2,500 (about $4.50) a kilo, slightly more for a precooked version, and ¢3,595 (about $6.50) a kilo for a smoke-roasted turkey. Average weight is seven kilograms.

Northern Pacific

The Thanksgiving hub around Playas del Coco, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, is Supermercado Luperón (2670-1197), which is selling Pavilandia and Pipasa turkeys and will also have essential supplies such as pumpkin pie filling, yams, marshmallows, sage, commercial stuffing mixes and cranberries – both fresh and from a can. An Auto Mercado has also recently opened in the area (2670-2232).

In Tamarindo, try the Auto Mercado (2653-2414) for Thanksgiving staples. Supermercado Tamarindo (2653-1072) will provide turkeys for those who request them in advance – freezer space is at a premium.

Central Pacific

Around Jacó, try Más x Menos (2643-3027) or the Auto Mercado (2637-8440).

In Quepos, Super Más (2777-1162) said it will have or can get turkeys, stuffing mixes, gravy mixes, applesauce, turkey basters, pumpkin pie filling and other basics. Call in advance to reserve your turkey, which sells for about ¢3,855 ($7) per kilo. Pavilandia is a popular brand.

Mini Price Store (2777-7070, is another Quepos-area option that stocks turkeys; call for prices. Super Jordix (2777-4036) can get turkeys, but you should call in advance.


In Limón, try Maxibodega (2758-1245), Más x Menos (2798-0070) or the Pipasa agency (2758-3536). You have to call Pipasa at least two days in advance to reserve your turkey, which goes for about ¢3,450 ($6.30) per kilo.

Puerto Viejo’s Pirriplí store (2828-1251) said it would have turkey in time for Thanksgiving.


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