A not-so-Tico twist on tacos in Santa Ana

June 1, 2012

From the print edition

The recently opened Tacobar on the Belén Road in Santa Ana, southwest of San José, is not really a bar at all. Nor does it dish out the kind of tacos that you’d expect at a restaurant in Costa Rica. In fact, this family restaurant serves up tasty, healthy fare, and its killer fish tacos have a flavor that’s completely their own.

Housed in a semi-circular building with a bamboo roof and floor to ceiling glass windows, Tacobar is surrounded by a deck with patio furniture. Inside, apart from the regular simple tables and chairs, the swing seating at the high wooden counters offers a swing-while-you-eat experience for anybody with a strong stomach.

Patrons line up to order and pay at the counter, and cooked-to-order meals are then delivered on large platters, leaving room for an excellent variety of salads offered at the all-you-can-eat salad bar. This comes with the fish tacos and other main courses such as burritos, sandwiches, chicken, steak and tuna plates. Potatoes cooked in tempting different ways, pizza, appetizers and side orders do not come with the salad bar, but may be ordered separately.

Our well-presented meals arrived at different intervals, which we found somewhat disconcerting. Maybe this was because we all paid individually, but the young lady at the counter who took our order should have made a note for the kitchen that we were a group and wanted to be served together.

I’m sure this will be remedied in the future by the impressive management team. General Manager Jose Tortós, and Administrator Jonathon Montenegro, run a hands-on operation in this trendy, popular family restaurant that seems to be buzzing morning, noon and night.

We had no complaints about the food. The fish and chips dish was served piping hot with light, crispy batter. The tuna steak was outstanding, lightly seared to perfection. The fish tacos were served on thin flour tortillas piled with mahi mahi, snapper, shrimp and calamari. All were dressed with herbs, peanut or hot spicy sauce. Depending on your appetite, you can order one, two or three tacos, and they are not rolled like traditional tacos, but are freshly cooked and very tasty. Main courses range from {2,500-6,000 ($5-12).

Tacobar serves no alcoholic beverages, but there is a large selection of fruit smoothies and drinks. The tangy lemonade laced with fresh ginger and mint is delicious and highly recommended. The dessert menu is limited, but the ice cream and brownie selection, which is enormous, will send many a chocoholic into a food coma. 

Tacobar offers a variety of choices {2,000-4,000 ($4-8), plus a $3 daily special. There’s a second Tacobar in Jacó, and the Israeli-U.S. owners are opening another locale in Trejos Montealegre, San Rafael de Escazú, southwest of San José.

Tacobar:

Location: 600 meters north of the Cruz Roja, opposite Mas X Menos, Santa Ana.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Mon., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Contact: 2282-7863

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