Office workers and high-rise residents in western San José’s busy Sabana Sur neighborhood are fortunate to be within walking distance of the new Rocket Grill sandwich shop, salad bar and bakery. Jeff Holley and wife Jill Sequeira opened this small restaurant, with its black wooden tables and chairs, cream-colored tile floors and blackboard menu, in May. Even if you don’t live or work in the area, this excellent eatery is well worth a visit for its reasonably priced, tasty North American and Mediterranean grill-style food.
Diners who visited the Capital Grill at White House hotel or the popular Mi Sala, both in the western suburb of Escazú, may well remember Holley’s culinary talents.
Originally from the U.S. state of Arizona, Holley came to Costa Rica in 1979 and started a family bakery making whole-wheat cinnamon rolls for LACSA airlines, and sourdough bread made from the starter his mother carried with her from the U.S.
A world traveler, Holley has worked as a chef in Alaska and New Orleans, in addition to Costa Rica.
“I learned most of my cooking in New Orleans,” he said. “So I included a shrimp Po’ Boy, the famous traditional sandwich from Louisiana, on the menu.”
Rocket Grill has nothing to do with a trip into space. “We were planning to name it Arugula Grill, but decided to use rocket, the Anglicized version of one of my favorite salad greens instead,” Holley said.
You’ll certainly find a varied choice of salads at the salad bar. The day I visited, clam chowder, meatballs and wholesome chicken soup were also on offer. But my companions and I decided to focus on the large selection of tempting sandwiches and wraps. We ordered the chicken salad on homemade whole-wheat bread, the Caesar chicken wrap and the French dip beef sandwich. The thinly sliced roast beef, stacked on French bread and served with a delicious beef broth for dipping, was excellent, as were our other two choices. The menu also includes hamburgers, a BLT, crispy fish and Philly sandwiches, vegetarian wraps and beef tenderloin, chicken or shrimp brochettes.
We raved about the wonderful homemade potato chips; I don’t mean French fries, but real, crispy, nongreasy chips made daily. It’s worth a visit to Rocket Grill for these alone. We also enjoyed the yummy homemade brownie served with strawberry-banana gelato from the ice cream parlor next door, delicious Tarrazú coffee and tangy fresh lemonade.
Rocket Grill also offers a tempting selection of traditional breakfasts; the wraps, blueberry pancakes and side orders of sausage, bacon and country potatoes looked fantastic.
Prices are very affordable. You’ll find nothing above ₡4,500 ($9), including the beef and shrimp items, and the average prices for other offerings range from ₡2,500 to ₡3,500 ($5 to $7), including 13 percent tax. My companions and I agreed Rocket Grill will most certainly see us again.
Location: Sabana Sur, 25 m south of AMPM market or 100 m west of the Oficentro Complex (Ask about delivery)
Hours: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.