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Cafeoteca-Kalu: Family Eating in San José

by Jane Wangersky | October 8th, 2015 | Restaurant Destination
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grilled chicken plate (400x400)Cafeoteca — a “space for the diffusion of coffee as culture” may not seem, at first glance, to be the most family-friendly place to eat. However, this space is also home to Kalu, a restaurant with something for everyone in the family, even those too young for coffee.

According to Kalu’s Chef Camille Ratton, the only cooking that never goes out of style is the kind that tastes good. With an outlook like that, you can expect to find classic rather than trendy dishes, and you can certainly hope that it tastes good, both important when kids are with you.

The space is open to lots of natural light, with a light-colored theme and modern decor. The menu, sprinkled with English words, combines mostly Central American and Asian dishes, with a more international selection on the children’s menu.

And we may as well start with that children’s menu (for under-12’s only). You get the feeling they understand kids’ tastes when one of the first dishes is pasta with just butter. Other items include mini burgers, quesadillas, ham and cheese panini, and grilled chicken. All are served with sides such as tomatoes and potatoes, and a choice of cookie, ice cream, or the traditional alfajor (known in every Hispanic country but different in each), and all meals cost 4500 colones.

Now, for the teens and adults — Kalu offers a regular menu, a small but varied gluten-free menu, weekend breakfast and brunch, and of course there’s all that coffee next door. You can order a la carte or by “formula”: for example, from noon to 3:00, choose a soup or salad, plus a sandwich or quiche, with coffee (of course) for 12,000 colones. In mid-afternoon, a tapa, mini-dessert and coffee cost 9000 colones, and after 6:00 a main course (“plato fuerte”) plus mini-dessert and a glass of wine will run you 14,000. Some of the more interesting dishes include salmon cured with coffee (appetizer), naan bread with salsa, and cajun shrimp on creamy pollenta (main dish). There’s a lot of fusion going on here.

The dessert menu is also international, and pretty long, so if you can’t choose, you may want to order the Paleta Kalu, with six mini-desserts, to share. Of course there are plenty of choices in after-dinner coffee, but other beverages are also well represented.

Some reviewers on TripAdvisor complain about slow service; however, the management seems serious about responding to complaints, and the vast majority of reviews rate Kalu excellent or very good.

Located at Calle 31 Ave 5, Barrio Escalante, beside Cafeoteca as noted earlier, Kalu is close to El Parque de Francia. It’s open — you might want to copy and paste this — Sunday 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday noon to 4:00 PM, Tuesday through Friday noon to 10:00 PM, and Saturday 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

Editor’s Note: Also check out this article on one of the best budget-friendly, and also family friendly hotels in San Jose.

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