The Top 10 Gluten-Free Restaurants in San Jose, Costa Rica

Who needs gluten when you have food like this?
Who needs gluten when you have food like this? | © March Verch / Flickr
Jenn Parker

San Jose is the cosmopolitan hub of Costa Rica. It offers residents and visitors an eclectic mix of cultural scenes and gastronomic experiences. While traditional Costa Rican food such as gallo pinto, patacones, corn tortillas, ceviche, casados, and even salsa Lizano are gluten-free, the capital city has a variety of restaurants that are perfectly suited for those who are gluten-sensitive or have full blown celiac disease. These are those delicious places.

1. Árbol de Seda

Bistro, Cafe, Restaurant, Fusion, Gluten-free, Vegan, Vegetarian

© Árbol de Seda

Árbol de Seda is a completely vegetarian cafe. On top of being a meat-free restaurant, they also whip up some truly delectable vegan and gluten-free options. Everything on the menu is hand crafted with careful attention to detail and an obvious love for sharing extraordinary dishes. The menu has everything from savory soups, garden fresh salads, and spring rolls, to vegetarian versions of some of Costa Rica’s classic dishes and unique twists on brunch items. And don’t forget about refreshing smoothies, sweet treats, and a variety of kombuchas and coffees.

2. El Buho Vegetariano

Bistro, Restaurant, Fusion, Gluten-free, Vegan, Vegetarian

© El Buho Vegetariano

El Buho Vegetariano sources all of their organic produce straight from sustainable Costa Rican farms. Their menu constantly changes depending on what ingredients are available at the time. Aside from creating an impressive array of vegetarian dishes, many of their plates are also gluten-free and/or vegan. It is immediately apparent upon walking into El Buho Vegetariano that everyone involved is passionate about what they contribute to this unique restaurant. Not only will your body thank you for feeding it such high quality and healthy food, but the environment will thank you too.

3. Kalú

Bistro, Restaurant, Central American, Coffee, BBQ

Simply delicious!
© Courtesy of Kalú

Kalú is an exceptional restaurant that serves up a fantastic selection of artisanal gourmet and healthy dishes for all different palates and dietary restrictions, including gluten-free and vegetarian options. This classy establishment harmoniously blends art and modern design with an element of warmth and coziness. Kalú has an inspiring menu complete with soups, salads, tapas, sandwiches, kid-friendly plates, desserts, and a great selection of wines, sangrias, beers, and non-alcoholic concoctions.

4. Mantras Veggie Cafe and Tea House

Bistro, Cafe, Healthy, Fusion, Tea , Vegan, Gluten-free, Vegetarian

© Mantras Veggie Cafe and Teahouse

Mantras Veggie Cafe and Tea House is a health food lover’s utopia. Mantras only uses the freshest ingredients that have also been locally, organically, and sustainably sourced. They have a tantalizing selection of vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, and raw dishes that even regular meat eaters would find exceptionally satisfying. The menu is bursting with colorful salads, flavorful soups, filling sandwiches, cold-pressed juices, exotic smoothies, and homemade desserts.

5. Soda Tapia

Diner, Restaurant, Central American, Gluten-free, Vegetarian

© Magnus Brath / Flickr

It would be outrageous to talk about amazing restaurants in San Jose that are also gluten-free friendly without including a traditional Costa Rican soda. Soda Tapia is a highly raved about soda that has been serving up all the Costa Rican classics since the 1950s. Quite a bit of Costa Rican food is gluten-free, so you can eat until your heart and belly are content here without a worry in the world. Load up on sweet plantains, gallo pinto, arroz con pollo, patacones, and ceviche. Soda Tapia is open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays, so your weekend craving for a cascado will never go unsatisfied.

6. Café Rojo

Cafe, Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Bistro, Vietnamese, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free

© Andrea Nguyen / Flickr

Café Rojo is a cute Vietnamese-inspired restaurant. Their concept is a build-your-own-dish approach. You first pick your base, two of the four options are gluten-free, and then pick whether you want vegetarian add-ins or fish, chicken, or pork. They have a wonderful selection of hot and cold coffees and teas too. Café Rojo makes everything in-house and uses only the finest and freshest ingredients. This adorable place will surely surprise you!

7. Furca

Bistro, Cafe, Restaurant, Central American, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, Steakhouse

© Christopher Paquette / Flickr

Furca is a contemporary farm-to-table restaurant that also caters to vegetarians and gluten-intolerant patrons. This stylish establishments has both indoor and outdoor seating and is a perfect choice for all types of occasions. The menu is filled with creative salads, share-worthy appetizers, and entrees that will blow your tastebuds away. The plate presentation is as amazing as the food. They do a great job at providing upscale dining in a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere.

8. YummyLab

Bistro, Cafe, Restaurant, Central American, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, Soup, North American

© Laura D'Alessandro / Flickr

YummyLab is a delightful little restaurant that is especially famous for their brunch menu. They pride themselves on creating creative artisanal dishes made with locally sourced and organic ingredients. The most challenging part of dining at YummyLab is making a decision as to what you want to order! They have dishes that will appease both the carnivores and vegetarians in the group, as well as those with dietary restrictions such as not being able to eat anything with gluten in it. Aside from the exquisite brunch, they also make an assortment of soups, salads, speciality dishes, and desserts. The drink menu is pretty enticing too.

9. Limoncello

Restaurant, Italian, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, Mediterranean

© Mike Mozart / Flickr

Limoncello is a lovely traditional Italian restaurant. They are very gluten-conscious and even label items in the menu that contain gluten. Their menu includes all of the Italian favorites and many of them with a unique twist. They have a great selection of antipastos, appetizers, salads, seafood, and meat dishes, as well as pizza and pasta. Vegetarians and meat eaters a like will love Limoncello. Don’t forget to look through their amazing collection of wine that is available to perfectly accompany your chosen dish.

10. Taj Mahal Restaurant

Restaurant, Indian, Vegetarian, Gluten-free

© TMAB2003 / Flickr

Taj Mahal Restaurant has received Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence for five years, and four of those being consecutive. It is the best Indian restaurant in all of San Jose. The offer an ethnic Indian dining experience and have an al a carte menu as well as a chef’s tasting and executive lunch menu. What’s amazing about the menus though is that they use symbols to indicate chef’s recommendations, lactose-free items, and gluten-free items. They are famous for their curries and naan. There are plenty of vegetarian options, as well as chicken, lamb, beef, and seafood plates.

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