San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

San José's most adorable and delicious vegetarian restaurant is closing

Vegetarian 1

Jardín del Parque serves up smoothies and organic salads with homemade dressing.

Vanessa I. Garnica

For the last two years, the beloved alfresco eatery Jardín del Parque has served up innovative juices, delicate pastries, mouthwatering homemade pizzas and knockout veggie platos del día on the east side of San José’s Parque Nacional. One could go on about the creamy and flavorful sopas, the nutritious and nutty salads and the clever floppy disk coasters – but the restaurant will not.

On Nov. 15, Jardín del Parque will shutter its doors, and owner Illeana Méndez will focus on other projects. “I actually feel quite relieved,” Méndez said, apparently unsympathetic to devoted patrons.  

But then she explained that the business would continue in the form of catering gigs, cooking classes and new product development (baby food with organic flowers and dehydrated fruit is coming down the pipe at Tierra Viva, Méndez’s food and beverage company). Additionally, Méndez and her staff will keep booths at farmers markets around the country.

“We will still be at Feria Verde,” Méndez reassured, speaking of the Saturday market in Barrio Aranjuez, where veggie lovers will be able to feast on Jardín del Parque breakfast burritos, tortillas and pitas, and purchase Tierra Viva’s dulce de leche and kombucha drinks. Méndez also hopes to get involved with new green markets starting up in Santa Ana, a southwestern suburb of San José, and Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula.

From Nov. 4-6, the Jardín crew also will be catering the P3 sustainable tourism conference at the Children’s Museum in downtown San José.

The Jardín del Parque name will die with the restaurant (and if that sounds dramatic, it is) but Tierra Viva will live on.


Jardín del Parque offered incredible buffet breakfasts on Sundays.

Ashley Harrell

Contact David Boddiger at dboddiger@ticotimes.net54

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