Finally, a place like that has opened here on the island.
Meet Snackbar El Tico.
This little place is on Matamoras Avenue, next to Bobo's Fish and Chips and across the street from Olivia's Restaurant. It is owned and run by Christopher. More commonly known by his friends as Tico. If you haven't guessed by the nickname, Tico is from Costa Rica. And, like most Costa Ricans, he speaks fluent English and has that sense of Pura Vida that is so prevalent in Costa Rica. It translates well to his new business.
Although his speciality of the house is michaladas and cheladas, he does have a full range of liquor. So if you want a Margarita, just ask!
Thanks to the Mrs., there are a few little homey touches around too. Like these bar top candelabras.
They look especially nice after dark when lit.
The centerpiece of the back wall is this colorful mirror. I would like to steal it!
But, the main event at Snackbar El Tico, happens on the weekends. That is when you get closest to the cantina feeling of the place. Order any kind of drink on Friday and get free ceviche de pescado. Do the same thing on Saturday and get ceviche de camaron. But, and this deserves a big drumroll, on Sundays you get chilpochole! Homemade fresh and hot that morning and delivered to your bowl.
Here's one of the helpers dishing some up for another hungry customer.
If you have never tried chilpochole, Sunday at Tico's is the time to lose your virginity with this dish. It is basically a spicy, red broth stew of fish, shrimp and crab. Delicious. A good one will be extra spicy since it is traditionally eaten as a hangover cure. Thus it always being on the menu on Sundays.
There is limited seating, but people are happy to stand against the wall, outside or anywhere there is space. Especially on Sundays. Although there are not too many tourists who frequent this place yet, they are starting to discover this little gem.
And the infamous Tico himself!
Given the tiny space they have to work in, the organization is excellent. Not a wasted piece of countertop anywhere.
I think Tico has every song ever recorded in both English and Spanish on his computer. When the place is really busy, the music is kept low and in the background. Never a need to shout over the music. However, once the place clears out a bit, Tico has a ball playing samples of all kinds of music for whomever is there.
Next time you are on the island, stop by. I think you will enjoy this place as much as we do. And be sure to tell him that Islagringo sent you!