The one day of the year that gluttony is considered in vogue is Thanksgiving. Copious consumption of starches, meats, vegetables and drink are encouraged on turkey day, and never would any frown on you for getting seconds, or warn you not to eat so much. It is the U.S. day of binge eating, and, if you enjoy a good meal, take advantage, no matter where in the world you are.
While the history of Thanksgiving has morphed from a 1621 harvest feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to an NFL double-header featuring the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, the central activity of the day has endured the test of time.
Eat. And eat well.
Expat Gringos in Costa Rica can rest assured that the belly-busting nature of Thanksgiving is not overlooked here. On the last Thursday of November, Thanksgiving dinner will be served in a number of local restaurants.
Here are a few places around the capital that will serve up Thanksgiving favorites such as turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and more.
Starting in downtown San José, the Del Mar Restaurant in the Hotel Del Rey will begin its Thanksgiving feast with salad or pumpkin soup, followed by a main course of turkey, cranberry sauce, yams, giblet gravy, beans and mashed potatoes, with your choice of pumpkin pie, tres leches or apple pie to finish it off. Dinner runs ₡10,500 ($21) and wine and beverages are available in plenty. To reserve a spot, call 2257-7800, extension 232. The Del Rey is at Avenida 1, Calle 9, one block southeast of Parque Morazán.
If mixing and matching the appropriate trimmings for your bird is your motive, the Magnolia Restaurant at Casino Club Colonial will again offer an expansive buffet of Thanksgiving mainstays, plus other, less traditional but still North American dishes. The all-you-can-eat affair will include Waldorf and mixed salads, roasted turkey, barbecue pork ribs, chicken wings, mashed sweet potatoes, rice, vegetables, pumpkin pie and a beverage (a glass of wine or a Budweiser) for $20 per person. Call 2258-2807 to reserve your spot. Club Colonial is at Avenida 1, between Calles 9 and 11.
In what has now become tradition, the Aurola Holiday Inn will be serving Thanksgiving grub on the top floor of one of San José’s tallest hotels in the El Mirador restaurant, which offers a panoramic view of central San José. The menu will include turkey, mashed potatoes and other traditional Thanksgiving sides, pumpkin pie and a glass of wine, all for $20 to $30 per person. The restaurant will be serving from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to midnight. To reserve, call 2523-1000, extension 451. The hotel is at Avenida 5, Calle 5.
The always-elegant Chateau 1525 also will serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal with wine and music for $30 per person. Information and reservations are available at 2248-9337. The restaurant is 125 meters east of Casa Amarilla, on the north side of the National Library.
On Avenida Central, between Calles 7 and 9, El Patio del Balmoral is planning Thanksgiving dinner with roasted turkey and all the trimmings, though price information was not available at press time. For information and reservations, call 2221-1700.
Moving to the west side, the revamped Café de Artistas in San Rafael de Escazú, under new ownership since last year, will carry out the Thanksgiving tradition of years past, serving turkey feasts every three hours beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Chris Reeves, who took over the café about eight months ago, said turkey day festivities will be geared more toward a family setting, and will offer people three hours to eat, socialize, relax and digest. The meal will consist of herb-roasted turkey with stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, corn bread, Waldorf salad, macaroni and cheese, pecan and pumpkin pie and other Thanksgiving trimmings. The feast will be served at 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and will cost $28 per person plus service. For reservations, call 2288-5082. Café de Artistas is 100 meters south of Plaza Rolex in San Rafael de Escazú.
Oasis Café y Cocina Fusión in Trejos Montealegre de Escazú will offer a traditional Thanksgiving meal with a vegetarian option. The menu will include sweet potato soup, seasonal salad, stuffed roast turkey or vegetable meatloaf with mushroom gravy, steamed vegetables and cranberry sauce, with coconut pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert. Dinner will be served between noon and 8 p.m. and costs $29 per person ($17 for kids under 12). For reservations, call 2228-4876. The café is inside the Apartotel María Alexandra, 100 meters north and 150 meters west of Vivero Exótica.
In Escazú Centro, the Time Out Tavern will host its fourth annual Thanksgiving dinner, which will be served from 11 a.m. until the last order of the day is made. The menu will consist of the usual Thanksgiving suspects, including turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, a variety of vegetables and apple and pumpkin pies, all for ₡10,000 ($20).
“We’ll have enough food to guarantee that everybody who eats here will leave with a full stomach,” said Time Out Tavern owner Steve Graham. “I’m a big guy, and if I’m full, I guarantee anyone else who eats here will be too.”
For information, call 2588-2622. Time Out Tavern is just south of the Costa Rica Country Club.
The Beacon Escazú hotel, 150 meters west of Escazú’s Central Park, will offer Thanksgiving dinner in its fine-dining restaurant, The Muse. Starters will include Waldorf salad and pumpkin soup, followed by turkey with stuffing, cranberry and gravy, corn bread, corn pudding, sweet potato puree and beans, with apple or pumpkin pie for dessert, all for $25 per person. For more information or reservations, call 2228-3110.
A traditional Gringo Thanksgiving dinner once again will be served at the Capitol Grill at White House Hotel in the hills of San Antonio de Escazú. Aside from the panoramic view, the day will include oven-roasted turkey with brown giblet gravy, walnut and mushroom stuffing, mashed potatoes sprinkled with Parmesan, green bean casserole, fresh cranberry sauce, homemade pumpkin pie with whipped cream and coffee or tea, all for $29.95 per person, plus tax and service. Dinner will be served from 1 to 10 p.m. For reservations, call 2288-6362. White House Hotel is 600 meters south of the San Antonio cemetery.
On the old road between Escazú and Santa Ana, Alta Hotel’s La Luz Restaurant will offer turkey-day trimmings buffet style, which has become tradition here. The buffet will include turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and a host of other Thanksgiving staples. Homemade pumpkin pie will top off the exhaustive feast. Price had not been determined by press time; for information, call 2282-4160.
Farther west, in San Antonio de Belén, the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel will put out a buffet consisting of several stations, including turkey, ham, soups, salads, sides and desserts. The buffet will be open from 6 to 10 p.m. For more information, call 2298-0207.
And finally, what could be more Gringo than Denny’s? The chain’s two locations, in La Uruca (2520-2500) and by Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela (2431-5050), both northwest of San José, will serve traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, trimmings and desserts such as pecan pie. Call for price information