SORREL DOWNER

Journalist and producer based in Spain working for UK press. My focus here is safe travel and tourism in Spain. I also cover current affairs, business, architecture and rural regeneration, and work / have worked for The Guardian, BBC, FT, The Times, Conde Nast Traveller, Business Life, Reader's Digest, Evening Standard.

COSTA RICA: SAN JOSE

San José isn’t the easiest or most photogenic of capital cities, and if you visiting Costa Rica on a tight schedule with a deep-felt desire to spot scarlet macaws and empty beaches, it may not be for you. But thanks to a new generation of hipster entrepreneurs, it’s becoming a better place to live. Instead of nights in the US-style strip malls of the suburbs, it’s possible once again to head down to, well, downtown, for good times. Concentrate your drinking and snacking efforts around Barrio Amón.

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Craft beers are on the rise in San José, and the coolly scruffy temple to microbrewing (and the giving of punning names), is Steifel Pub in Barrio Amón (50m east of INS). Friendly service and dozens of brews (above and below). Expect lively crowds and local brews with laddish names (‘Japi Endin’).

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The best music venues used to be clustered around the university, but it turns out old coffee baron houses make top spots for intimate performances too. We like El Sótano, self-styled jazz club and art house, Avenida 11 y, Calle 3, Barrio Amón, San José. Live music usually Monday-Saturday, starting around 9.30pm.

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And I bet right now she is off to the super-comfortable Alma de Amon (calle 5, avenida 9 & 11) for cocktails.

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PHOTOS: Andres Madrigal, Costa Rica Traveler.

For more on San José and good places to include on a see-everything first trip to Costa Rica, see The Guardian

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