About The Curator: José Pablo González

Owner & Chef Al Mercat Restaurant , SJO CR.

Hotel Belmar´s Chef  – Monteverde, CR.

For each of our destinations we engage in exhaustive “curatorial” work, not only do we evaluate each hotel and tour we want to recommend but also every spot where we find great food. From local “sodas” to big name restaurants, also cafes, little places on the road, hidden treasures…We devote ourselves to this “hard work”, we have tried every single of this spots and now we want to share them with you. Let’s eat and bon appétit!

Because of his grandmother’s way to share love via her delicious dishes, from early childhood José was exposed to Costarrican traditional cuisine, and that instilled in him a profound respect for authentic traditional flavors and gastronomic diversity.  Later on he enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu Academy in Paris, where he graduated with honors and went on to work in several Michelin starred restaurants and travel the world.

Coming back to Costa Rica in 2011, he opened Al Mercat, and more recently became the executive chef at Monteverde’s Belmar hotel.

The beautiful plating of his dishes, made with seasonal fresh traditional ingredients grown at his “finca” or acquired at traditional farmer’s markets, sets and example of how to rescue traditional regional cuisine through investigation, incorporating inventive new ways of preparing them applying his education and a profound respect for team work.

José became part of the team that “curated” the itinerary that we present now to you.  Our intention is to present you the unique ingredients and gastronomy that dots every beautiful region visited, from home cooking at firewood stoves, mountain inns,  eat-while-standing snacks at local fairs or first rate restaurants in San José or at the coast.

Us at Localista and José had very much fun putting together this gastronomical journey that sometimes took us back to our childhood comfort food and sometimes surprised us in new ways.  We want to share it with you and hope you will find it as inspiring as we did!


Welcome to San José!  We will be waiting for you to take you to a small beautiful boutique hotel with excellent gastronomy.  Rest of the day at leisure.

Day 2 friday

There’s no better way to begin your Costa Rica journey than to spend the day at the beautiful Pacuare River and its pristine white water rapids that traverse the deepest rainforest.  And when the day is over we will have made reservations for dinner at one of the best restaurants of the city.

Day 3 saturday

Saturday is market day in San José, so naturally you will explore with us an organic farmer’s market, where we will explain all about the local fruits, vegetables and artisan fare.  Then, we will take a stroll on the historic center of town to learn about costarricans, a population that grew up with no army and universal healthcare; and just in time for lunch, we’ll visit the Central Market, and its labyrinthic passageways full of spices, coffee grains, meats and hidden restaurants with extraordinary local dishes.
Dinner tonight is to be enjoyed at Al Mercat, where you’ll meet José Pablo, owner, chef and co-curator of “let’s Eat!”, and he will talk with you about his modern take on traditional Costa Rica gastronomy.

Day 4 sunday

After a hearty breakfast it’s time to head for one of the world’s most famous cloud forests:  Monteverde. We will direct you through a coastal road where you can lunch at a popular restaurant and sample typical seafood dishes. Your hotel in Monteverde has the best restaurant in town, a delicious Sunday brunch and cocktails inspired by the surroundings.  After a visit to the property’s full blown organic orchard you will sit down with one of the quakers: Monteverde’s founder families members, who will recount the history and their conservation driven philosophy.

Day 5 monday

You will start early in the morning with a hike on Monteverde’s Reserve trails along a naturalist guide who will point to you interesting species of this unique eco-system.  Then, for lunch, at her authentic traditional farm, doña Hermida will present you with a “gallos” lunch (the costarrican version of tacos).  This place is worth visiting to discover with her all types of edible and medicinal plants, flowers, vegetables, fruits, legumes and roots.


All about coffee! The plantation, harvest, roasting and of course, the best way to brew it to have a gourmet tasting so you can decide which bean is the right for you.  This you’ll have at on organic finca as the first activity of the day. Then we continue to the best canopy zip line adventure in the country, some of this lines are over half a mile long over the cloud forest!

And tonight you’ll say goodbye to Monteverde with a special dinner with wine and cocktail pairing at your hotel.



Road Trip! today you start making your way towards the mythical Poás Volcano.  We will direct you through some beautiful small rural towns strewn across sugar cane and coffee fields, and in the afternoon you will arrive to a nice boutique hotel nestled among a coffee plantation.


The mile wide open crater of the Poás Volcano is one of the most iconic image of our country.  You will have your chance to contemplate it today, will the cloud surrounded volcano let you?  Make sure to walk among the fern trails and discover the Botos tourquoise lagoon. After lunch you will go down one of the most beautiful scenic roads through waterfalls, river gorges and rainforest towards the caribbean plains where your eco-lodge at the edge of the Sarapiquí river is located.

Day 9 friday

You’ll know you are smack in the middle of a world famous bird watching site, the birdsongs will be your alarm clock.  With an expert guide you will locate them and appreciate a myriad of colorful species.  Then we prepared for you to discover the rainforest on a horseback ride, finishing with a special lunch on a heart of plant plantation where you’ll learn how to grow and harvest it and then enjoy it in half a dozen recipes!  On the afternoon we head to the caribbean coast.

Day 10 saturday

You will wake up in a bungalow surrounded by a tropical garden with a trail that leaves to the beach, where you can rest all day!  And for the afternoon you will have a cocoa experience with a family cooperative that makes the best organic chocolate in the country. We have secured a spot for you to have dinner at our favorite restaurant in Puerto Viejo.

Day 11 sunday

Cahuita town is a sleepy coastal little town nearby Puerto Viejo that possesses a beautiful maritime national park.  Today you will explore both the parl and snorkel the reefs teeming with tropical colorful fish. For dinner you will have a taste of Costa Rican caribbean cuisine.

Day 12 monday

After spending the day at the beach we have organized for you an afternoon stroll through town with a Puerto Viejo local, who will recount the town’s history, talk about the cultural melting pot and show you interesting places and founder families homes.  Your last dinner at the caribbean will be reserved at a high quality restaurant that combines italian flavors with caribbean spices.



After breakfast and one last stroll on the beach, is time to go back to San José.  Or maybe you are up to extend your journey, Tortuguero channels maybe?


Transfer to the airport, we wish you a happy return home.


Want to know more?

Need more days soaking in El Arenal thermal waters? Do you want a private specialty coffee tour on San José? Let us know!