San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

It’s easy to unwind in a college town

From the print edition

Mix two major universities with one part colonial-era charm, one part high-end shopping and dining development, add a dash of cheap-beer, student-priced bars, shake, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Call it a Heredia and, please, enjoy it responsibly.

The provincial capital of Heredia is full of universities and language schools – the National University (UNA) and Universidad Latina hem the city, which, history majors will tell you, was founded in 1705. Heredia has to have a lot to offer to keep fickle student bodies interested, which means an eclectic variety of nightlife opportunities abound.

Nestled at the foot of ULatina, the Paseo de Las Flores shopping center – a magnificent monument to consumerism – has plenty to offer its almost-captive audience of students lounging about for a drink between, after, or even before classes.

Heredia Bars 4

Bloody Mary at Mas T’Kila Bar in Heredia.

Alberto Font

The ubiquitous chain, Más T’Kila serves up margaritas, tequila shots, cold beers and a range of Mexican-inspired bocas on their ground-floor patio. The classic margarita is recommended and the frozen margaritas (in different flavors) are simply gargantuan.

Next door on either side, students reap the benefit of concentrated bar competition as La K-Cabaña and ultra-luxe Amartía tout happy hours and drink specials. Amartía’s Bedouin-inspired patio lounge with sofas and gauzy curtains is a cool place to kick back.

Across the parking lot at the foot of Paseo de Las Flores mall, one finds Hooligans Bar serving hot wings and hot sports action on multiple televisions.

Outside Paseo de Las Flores on the main highway leading to Heredia, Bar La Birrería offers a lively scene with dancing and, as the name implies, lots of cold Imperial to fuel the fun. Thursday nights are ladies’ night. Besides sexy dancers, good tunes and beers, La Birrería also serves up typical Tico bar food.

Chichi’s Sports Bar (www.chichissports, just up the road from La Birrería will dazzle your eyeballs with well over 20 flat-screen TVs. Chichi’s beams in sports from around the world from local soccer matches to Pakistani cricket and grizzly bear hunting in Alaska. The Chichi’s Combo, an enormous undertaking, piled high with onion rings, hot wings, chicken nuggets, potato skins and more, is recommended if you’re a competitive eater or just enjoying a night out with a group of hungry friends.

Heredia Bars 1

With more than 20 flat-screen TVs and mouth-watering bar food, Chichi’s Bar and Restaurant in Heredia, north of San José, has enough to keep sports fans happy.

Alberto Font

Closer to the center of Heredia lie the haunts of the UNA set. 

Rancho de Fofo ( just 100 meters west of the main entrance to UNA is somewhat of a rite of passage for locals and foreign-exchange students from the school. With two levels and lots of room for dancing and socializing, Rancho de Fofo is almost always bustling. Tuesdays offer two-for-one drink specials and Wednesdays offer live music.

Right next to Rancho de Fofo is another spot renowned for student debauchery of both the Tico and foreign persuasions: El Bulevar. With bocas and ample cold beer, this is a good place to socialize, and while the place is not exactly set up for dancing, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Disco Champs Elysée (2260-2511) is another long-standing hotspot for dancing well into the night. Located in the Plaza Heredia just a few blocks south of UNA, the disco has a Tuesday night ladies’ night and reggae on Fridays. 

Speed 7 (8849-9871), also in the Plaza Heredia, offers up more drinks and more dancing with university students.


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