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Birrí to Porrosatí
At Porrosatí, the rustic Restaurante El Ranchito (no tel., 11:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m. Thurs.–Sun.) offers plenty of warming charm around a log fire. Meals are simple and cheap.
For a wonderful rustic mountain ambience, try Las Ardillas (tel. 506/2266-0015, www.grupoardillas.com, 7 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Fri., 7 a.m.–11 p.m. Sat., 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun., $4–10), centered on a stone hearth and serving steak in red wine, filet mignon, almond sea bass, and the like.
San Rafael to Monte de la Cruz Reserve
The French Restaurante Los Tiroleses (tel. 506/2267-6222, noon–7 p.m. Mon., until 8:30 p.m. Tues.–Wed., until 10 p.m. Thurs., until midnight Fri.–Sat., and until 6 p.m. Sun.) at Hotel Chalet Tirol (tel. 506/2267-6222, www.hotelchaleteltirol.com) is twinned, incongruously, with an Irish pub called the Green Dragon. Think escargots ($8) and chateaubriand with béarnaise and mushroom sauce ($18).
I love Baalbek Bar and Grill (tel. 506/2267-6683, www.baalbekbaryrestaurante.com, noon–midnight Tues.–Sun.) at Los Ángeles de San Rafael, about 5 km below Monte Cruz de la Montaña. This upscale Lebanese restaurant boasts sublime views as well as splendid Mediterranean food such as mehshe (chicken and rice rolled in cabbage leaves, with hummus and salad, $12) and baba ghanoush (grilled eggplant with tahini, $6.50). Choose from the elegant downstairs restaurant or more intimate booths with hookahs upstairs. It has live music, from blues to Arabian, plus belly dancers on Saturday night.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition