San Joaquin de Flores is a quaint town located just outside of Heredia about 15 minutes outside of San Jose. It is known for its safety, and very tranquil atmosphere. The main street is easy to pass by if you do not live there or know that you are there, but it is a place filled with friendly people and a ton where you can still take an evening stroll and not worry too much about being robbed like many areas in San Jose. After passing the main plaza and old church where you will see families enjoying the fresh air or kids playing soccer in the center of San Joaquin, you will come upon a restaurant that is worth taking the trip here, Chicharronera El Establo.
El Establo is a small Costa Rican owned establishment located on the corner opposite Super Snacks in San Joaquin. I use this as a landmark as most taxi drivers can give you directions to this landmark. (In Costa Rica always ask taxi drivers directions, as many people will random people will give you wrong directions as they do not want to admit they do not know where something is located) The actual address is from the Escuela Estados Unidos 100 meters north, 25 meters west (de la escuela estados unidos 100 norte,25 oeste) Please see the picture below to know what Chicharronera El Establo looks like, it is hard to miss.
Although there are only about 6 tables and a place for 3 people to sit at the window overlooking the people passing by, there are always people there enjoying the food that is prepared by the cooks. There is not a time here you can pass by and not see people enjoying a business lunch or a family dinner in this quiet atmosphere with great service and an owner that is usually talking with the customers to ensure a quality dining experience.
Three of the hardest things to find in Costa Rica are a place to find an inexpensive meal that is high in standards, a good steak that is both reasonable in price, and good customer service at a restaurant. El Establo actually has all three of these traits in one location.
Business lunches are recommended for small groups. You will get both a quiet atmosphere and not be surrounded by loud talking people. You can also be ensured that your clients or boss will not be disappointed by the quality of the meal. Although there are many choices, I recommend the Executive Plate (Plato Ejecutivo). You can get this all around Costa Rica, but you never know what you are going to get when you order. This is one of the places you do not have to worry about being served a bad plate of food. Your plate will be filled with a healthy portion of rice, whole red beans, salad, and picadillo (a potato and meat combination), on the side of a well-cooked grilled chicken, carne en salsa, steak with onions, or fish. You get all of this and a drink for only 2500 colones or about $5.
El Establo is also one of the places I have found that actually has a good steak and for a reasonable price in Costa Rica. They have a lomito which they cover with their special el Establo sauce or jalapeno sauce which both melt in your mouth. They are served with rice and fries and they will cook it to perfection to your specifications. Cost of this is only 3900 colones or a little less than $8.
El Establo combines this with great service. They will always make sure that you are content with your dining experience. So when you are looking for a place to enjoy good food, good service, and a great family or business atmosphere, take the trip to San Joaquin and visit el Establo.
Restaurant – 2265-2947
Rodbin Barrantes, owner – 8713-2656