at the ark herb farm
The freshest herbs come from the Ark Herb Farm
Jalapenos restaurant alajuela sjo
Jalapenos is a friendly alternative if we have no dinner
a menu
Our menu is limited by our imagination
Our wine list is extensive
Let us help you with some wonderful wines
Grilled pear salad at the pura vida hotel just 10 mins from SJO
Perhaps a grilled pear salad tonight?
Grilled Snook Pura Vida Hotel Alajuela
We will have sought out the freshest fish at the market
amazing deserts near SJO airport
There are many things we can do with garden lemons

Chef Nhi will be Is In the Kitchen (if or when dinner is served)

Our main event is a

  • 3 course gourmet dinner based on what we find fresh at the market today. The cost is $39 plus tax, is served at 7pm (but always late) in a single seating and must be booked in advance - it is not always available. We can do this as vegetarian (and we can avoid one or two dietary things but you need to ask ahead).
  • 3 course gourmet dinner and market tour - same as above but starts at about 2:30pm on Fridays - we drive you to the farmers market (largest in Costa Rica) and select our dinner together. Introduction to neo-tropical fruits & veggies. The cost is $45.
  • If you have a group you can also order a 5 course tasting menu based on local foods - the price is $68 and includes a wine tasting with each course. There are no dietary options with our 5 course tasting menus.

For those who need a dinner and don't want to go out we can provide a "late meal" but we need reservations by the previous day - just let us know if you have any dietary requests such as "vegetarian" or "no cilantro". Our "late meals" are about $18.

Local Alternatives

There are no restaurants within walking distance. Otherwise there are a host of restaurants in Alajuela and two we like:

  • Jalapenos Central (Tex Mex run by our good friend Norman who won't steer you wrong) and
  • Carnes y Parrillas (excellent grill run by Norberto - good sangria too) - both are a short taxi ride from here and an easy taxi return. Taxis available both ends within 2 minutes usually.

Small hotels like ours do not have large staffs or big kitchens but, with some planning (advanced reservations), daily buying, fresh local ingredients and menu preparation we can put together some of the best meals you may have in Costa Rica.

Dinner Planning

. . . starts with a count of how many guests we have that day and an assessment of who we will be shopping for today and what ingredients will work together across some broad menu ideas.

On Fridays, for example we are likely to be at the Farmers Market and our favorite fish monger is likely to have excellent Red Snapper or Corvina or the infamous Bearded Brotulo. We will then shop for a complimentary first course, perhaps Crimini Crostini or and Asian Salad and ponder a dessert that will work with the theme for the night which include French Country, South East Asian Authentic, California Fusion. If Chef Nhi is not in that night, sorry, we will not compromise with a substitute . . . so dinner is not available every night.

A note from Your Waiter

"Some years ago, I announced that we had sold our first 2 dinners. 6 weeks later we served those 2 dinners and the guests were pretty happy. If only they knew the events that led up to that moment! This dinner took literally weeks to prepare and started with the observation that we can not live with this *%$#@&! (70 year old) kitchen. This simple observation quickly caused repercussions. The crummy old kitchen was completely demolished and rebuilt. We found a commercial oven and made really complicated decisions like "um er who should do the cooking?" and "who should be the waiter?". Many many dinners later, Chef Nhi will be bringing you the freshest ingredients prepared in a way you may not expect and tasting better than you ever imagined.

"Heck, I come here just for the food!" Signed:
Your waiter and by strange coincidence your webmaster

Here's a few examples from previous menus

Our first courses might include

  • Roast squash soup
  • Vichyssoise
  • Farmers Market spinach salad
  • Asian Salad with 5 spice shrimp
  • Green Papaya Salad
  • Spicey Wok'ed Eggplant
  • Teriaki Chicken Drummettes
  • Crimini Crostini with baked blue cheese etc etc . . .

Our main course might include

  • Apple Mustard Chicken
  • Roast Corvina, mushroom ragout
  • Sizzling Trout, butter caper sauce
  • Grilled Robalo (AKA Snook - the surfing fish)
  • Moroccan Chicken
  • Rosemary Pork Chop with veggy couscous
  • Grilled Pork Tenderloin, sage butter
  • Remind us of your vegetarian or vegan needs and we will make you a special plate
  • ad infinitum . . . i.e. the list goes on

Our dessert course might include

  • Frozen mango cream, fresh mango
  • Crepes Suzettes
  • Fresh Fruit Eclair, chocolate nibs
  • Guanabana Pannacotta
  • Creme Brulee
  • Chocolate Pot de Creme
  • Lemon Bars (3 pretty tasty things you can do when you have too many lemons in the garden)
  • Flour-less Chocolate torte and more and more - depends on what we find fresh at the market

And of course a selection of wines including

  • Cuvi Verdejo/Sauvignon Blanc from Spain
  • Montes Alpha Chardonnay
  • Montes Cherub Rose from Chile
  • Muga Rioja from Spain
  • Gascom Torrontes from Argentina
  • Gascon Malbec from Argentina
  • Muga Rioja Tempranillo from Spain
  • Broquel Cabernet Franc from Chile
  • Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir and more, so it goes

Soft drinks, San Pellegrino and Imperial beer, Guinness on occasion
. . . and such . . .