It can be quite a challenge to find fine-quality meats at a reasonable price in Costa Rica, especially beef. Unless you raise the cattle yourself, or your neighbors do (which isn’t that uncommon, actually). The sole purpose of this post isn’t to bad-mouth the local restaurants that serve steaks. But the American restaurant chains in Escazú like Outback Steakhouse and Tony Roma’s just don’t have the quality of meat that you’re paying for. The single time I’ve been to Tony Roma’s, I ordered filet minion with a baked potato and what was served to me was a big ball of tough, undercooked (to my taste) meat. So, you can’t blame it on me wanting a medium-well steak, because it was medium-rare from all angles and still tough as leather.
My husband and I had a similar experience when buying steaks from the grocery stores like Hipermas, PriceSmart and even AutoMercado. Same story, tough, over-priced meat with an almost-gamey taste that you needed a chainsaw to cut and chew through. Alas though, we were turned onto Don Fernando, the butcher shop in Escazú just past the Scotiabank and Mas Por Menos toward Santa Ana in Plaza Colonial.
There certainly is cheap food in Escazú, at Don Fernando Carnicería. The assortment of cuts that we love include ribeyes, NY Strip, beef tenderloin, pork chops, chicken breast, turkey dogs and CHEESE. Glorious cheese, without spending an arm and a leg for it. Anyone who has spent even just a few weeks in Costa Rica will find that cheese is like gold here. For no apparent reason really. It’s made in the country but anything other than the local white ‘squeaky cheese’ is priced like an English import.
Our regular favorites from the butcher shop are ribeyes, turkey dogs and mozzarella cheese. Take the ribeyes and rub some Willingham’s seasoning (sorry folks, only available through mail order from the USA) or your favorite steak seasoning on them and grill ‘em up. We had a side of baked potatoes with black beans, butter, scallions, cumin, cilantro and salt & pepper.
Additionally, the carniceria or butcher shop, next door they have a Don Fernando restaurant where they’ll cook up your newly bought treasures if you can’t wait to get home. They also have a regular menu, which includes everything they offer in the way of meats from the other side of the kitchen. We have made a vow, even if it means going out of our way, to hit up Don Fernando to get all of our carnivorous needs.