Spending My 37th Birthday in San Jose, Costa Rica!

My birthday is the day after Christmas and since it often gets bundled with that holiday, I like to really celebrate (otherwise, it just gets lost). We usually do not go away for my actual birthday due to its proximity to Christmas, but this year, since Christmas was largely cancelled (thanks, COVID), we flew to San Jose, Costa Rica on Christmas evening and were there to properly celebrate my birthday on the 26th!

Christmas wine in JFK Terminal 5. They have really relaxed the drinking situation in T5 during COVID.

The day started out with complimentary breakfast at our hotel, the Sheraton San Jose, which is actually located in the ex-pat friendly suburb of Escazú. I was pleased that were were seated outdoors on an open-air terrace and the weather was gorgeous – sunny and about 70 F (21 C). I was even more pleased to learn that the hotel breakfast was totally delicious and honestly, some of the best food we had on the trip (spoiler alert, we did not love Costa Rican food). For my big birthday breakfast, I had the tastiest cappuccino and a plate of proper rice and beans, plantains, sausage, taquitos, and the most amazing chicken quesadilla-like thing in a yellow sauce, all topped with a spicy red salsa. Birthday off to a great start!

Excellent start to year 37. The quesadilla thing was amazing. I definitely had seconds!

Costa Rican cappuccino.

Breakfast complete, we called an Uber and headed into San Jose to visit the Jade Museum! I LOVE jade, so this museum was high on my list. San Jose’s Jade Museum is right downtown in a modern building next to the Plaza de la Democracia y de la Abolición del Ejército. The Jade Museum was cool, but focused less on jade and more on Costa Rican indigenous history than I expected. In any case, the Jade Museum was well laid out, had 7 large exhibits, and they gave me a free cloth face mask and Christmas ornament!

Plaza de la Democracia y de la Abolición del Ejército.

Modern interior of the Jade Museum.

Jade Museum.

Post Jade Museum, we walked around down town a bit, which was quiet as it was a Saturday, yet busier than expected during COVID, and shopped at the touristy Mercado de Artesania for souvenirs. This market is certainly touristy, but its a quick place to find all the standard tourist goods. We made a few purchases to bring home. Next up, I looked up what may be the only Irish pub in San Jose, Craic Irish Pub, for what I hoped to be a Guinness. Sadly, there was no Guinness on tap, so I had another stout and we split fried chicken and cheese sticks (kinda weird) and the most delicious friend small Reeses Cups! Those were great.

Despite the lack of Guinness, the atmosphere was on point!

Birthday stout! No Guinness, but it will do.

Kind of weird fried chicken and cheese sticks…

Fried mini Reeses! Best find!

We spent the afternoon back at the Sheraton enjoying its rooftop pool and happy hour in the Sheraton’s Executive Lounge.

Birthday pool visit. The pool was slightly heated and had fantastic views (see the cover photo) but it gets windy up there!

Drinks and cheese in the Executive Lounge.

Pre-dinner Birthday flan in the Executive Lounge.

My birthday dinner was at a very good Asian-fusion restaurant in Escazu called Gallo Rojo, or the Red Rooster. I’m going to write about this separately, but we enjoyed excellent dumplings, ceviche, and Bao buns. We finished dinner around 9 and had planned to call an Uber or taxi, but there was a 9 PM curfew imposed on the entire country due to COVID. Luckily, the restaurant owner drove us home – great service – and the perfect way to end by birthday!!

Birthday fried chicken Bao at Gallo Rojo!


Sheraton San Jose: Western hotel about 15 minutes from Downtown San Jose. Rooftop pool and lounge, multiple restaurants, and casino on site. An “OK” Executive Lounge available for those that qualify.

Jade Museum: Calle 13 y 13 bis, Provincia de, Av. Central, San José Province, San José, Costa Rica. Open daily.  I believe the cost was about $8 per person. Credit card accepted. Masks required during COVID.

Craic Irish Pub: Calle 25 83, La California, San José, Costa Rica. No website. Outdoor and indoor seating. Many, many beer taps, but no Guinness! Confirm hours (everything is constantly changing due to COVID).

Gallo Rojo: Del Bac 350 mts norte, contiguo a Zen Designs, Costa Rica, San Rafael, Costa Rica. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Check IG for most up to date information. Limited outdoor seating, but the restaurant is open air. Reservations suggested. Casual attire. Highly recommended.


Everything we did here was pretty inexpensive; nothing broke the bank. Costa Rica is actually quite budget friendly.


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